Providing a customer with a pre-press proof for an offset run has been an issue for printers and customers alike for a long time, specially when printing in Pantone (PMS) colors.
Some customers require a printed proof to be made before the entire job is run, usually for large orders. Because of the cost of setting up an offset press, only running 1 or 2 pieces can cost almost equal to the cost of the job itself.
Most of the cost of an offset print job is in the setup. Once the press is setup, all we do is feed it paper and ink. This is also the reason it’s not double the cost to run say 1000 vs 500 because the setup is the same, you basically pay extra for paper and ink.
The Pre-press Proof Alternative
Now that you understand why getting an offset press proof is expensive, there is an alternative that the digital age has bestowed upon us: The Digital Press Proof.
Digital printing, which allows us to quickly print one or two pieces with very little waste and setup time, is the best alternative to obtaining an offset press proof. It generally has a very low cost for a digital press proof and provides pretty close representation of the finished product being printed on offset.
Some digital presses can only print up to 18 inches. In this case, a large size proof would not be available in actual size. Another thing to note is that digital presses use toner while offset presses use liquid ink so the finish is not going to be exact either. Toner tends to have a glossy finish and would not be an exact representation of what the final offset prints will come out like.
Digital Press Proofs and Accuracy
The quality of digital presses is almost, if not in par, with offset. Sometimes we can’t even tell the difference without looking through a loop. Otherwise, the only thing that gives it away is the glossiness of the toner.
If you want your proof to be exactly what your finished product will be from an offset press, then a digital press proof is not for you. It will not be 100% exact. But, if you are OK with a 75-90% accuracy, a digital press proof might be for you.
It all depends on YOUR reason for requesting a pre-press proof
Are you worried that the type might be too small or an image will be pixelated because of the quality of the embedded image? A digital proof will be perfect to show you text size or image quality.
Do you need to make sure that a logo has exact matching colors and that the paper you selected doesn’t affect the color? Then a digital proof will not show you the end result that an offset pre-press proof will.
I hope this post helps you determine if you need a pre-press proof, the pros and cons of both and you can always contact us if you have any questions.