Proofing on Press?


Frequently our clients ask for a “press-check” on work we print on our offset press. Because a press check increases the amount of time a job takes, and increases waste significantly (most of our offset runs are under 1000 sheets, and some of them are as small as 100), we charge a bit more for a job that requires a press check. It’s rare that anyone finds a problem correctable by the pressman on one of these checks. The work is always in register, and with today’s computerized color controls and ink keys, color-bars and a photo-spectrometer, the color is pretty much always what the client specified.

Funny thing though. Almost half the jobs that are press-checked get pulled off press and go back to pre-press or to the client. Why? Because someone waited till the job was on press to PROOFREAD it. Or the person doesn’t “like” the color. How many times over the last 20 years have we heard “it didn’t look like that on my screen?”

We can’t help much with the proofreading thing (though we will call you if we NOTICE an error before the job is plated). But a recent project made us realize that there may be a reasonable solution for the “I don’t like the color issue.”

In the old days, high-end color separators maintained actual printing presses for the express purpose of PROOFING color. This was rendered obsolete by conventional “contract” proofs (Matchprints etc), which were not as accurate as “press proofs,” but were better than nothing. Matchprints were rendered obsolete by “digital” contract proofs, which were not as dependable as conventional matchprints, but again, were better than nothing. These were rendered obsolete by inkjet proofs, which were not as accurate as digital contract proofs, but were better than nothing. And today, most people rely on their screen to proof color. I can point to many reprinted jobs over the last few years which indicate that the screen may NOT be better than nothing for proofing color.

So in the end, folks are back to proofing color on press. But they are doing it by accident, under pressure, and on deadline. Maybe it’s time to press proof again? On purpose. The way we did it in the “old days.”

For $350, Reno Type can plate our 4-color press, bring it to color, and print 25 or so sheets on several papers. If you want to KNOW what your job will look like, or if your client needs to see how their logo will look on different papers, so that adjustments can be made, a press like ours can be a dream come true.

We’re not suggesting that you should print every job at Reno Type before you print it for “real.” What we ARE suggesting is that any job which is super critical (a brand identity in the early stages, or a catalog where people expect the colors in print to match the actual product, or fine art reproduction say), should have the critical elements stripped off and printed on a single press sheet. There is no better way to KNOW what something will look like ahead of time.

But you still need to proofread.

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