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Getting Dedicated to Digital Proofing

(July 2006) posted on Tue Jul 11, 2006

Discover how a dedicated digital proofing system can accurately represent your production prints and save you money at the same time.

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By Mike Ruff

Many digital production printing devices are delayed and remain sitting idle while a computer operator makes adjustment after adjustment to hit a color target that a client has sent in or match a piece previously printed on another device. The answer to this problem is a calibrated, off-press digital proofing system for the production devices. The workflow should be set up so that the color is adjusted for the next job on a calibrated, off-press proofer that closely simulates the production device while the production device prints the current job. When the production device is ready for the next job, it's quickly up and running with no delay because the image has been proofed and corrected already. The printers who make the mistake of using the production device as a proofer eat up valuable press time and cost themselves thousands of dollars every month.

Making the right decision

Many poorly designed and marginally accurate systems have come and gone since the beginning of the move to digital proofing. There are now many high-quality, low-cost solutions from which to choose thanks to improved technology and color-management software. Inkjet proofing is the most prolific and economical. High-quality inks and media allow the inkjet proof's use at the highest level of graphic reproduction.

Digital proofing offers many ink choices: pigment- and dye-based inks, thermally activated colors, UV-light-activated proofing materials, and more. Each has its advantages and drawbacks, and sorting through these choices can be confusing. Just realize that almost all digital proofing devices sold today will work well if they are properly installed and calibrated and prepress operators are trained correctly.

All of these proofing devices have one thing in common. They all take into consideration the three elements of color common to all printing processes to produce an image: the color of the ink, toner, or colorant; the substrate color; and the percentage of color applied to the substrate. You can control all of these elements by way of color-management software. Therefore, this is an equalizer as long as the output of the tonal percentage is predictable and as long as the system can produce a tonal value that's equal to or greater than what your production printing device can generate.


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