Pre-Press Proof: Challenges And The Alternative

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

Digital Printing Toner Wells CMYK BizhubNow 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.

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Digital Evolution: The State of Commercial Printing

Epson Digital PrinterJust as a pianist has affection and allegiance to the piano, a printer has a fondness for his press(es). The tune played as the various mechanical parts perform their individual functions in harmony will never be forgotten. But as the synthesizer and electric piano changed the scope of music and musicians, the digital press and toner have taken the industry by surprise creating a new breed of pressmen and press work. Being “mechanically inclined” is no longer a requirement, the future generation of pressmen are computer savvy, web surfing, toner wielding wizards.

Embracing Change

The idea that print is “dying”, as I see it, is simply a matter of wordplay.
The word “dying” provokes a negative connotation such as “ending, expiring or kicking the bucket”; wordplay. The truth of the matter is that print media is “changing, adapting and evolving”.

Lets take a step back and remember the faithful Letterpress. Slowly but surely faded away from print shops all over the world with the introduction of the Offset Press. Yes, there are many letterpress communities still in existence because there is still a passion for the art. But in business, passion alone does not pay the bills or fill the coffers.


Print Communication the Social Way

Digital Toner Wells

Communication has been in a constant evolution since the beginning:
Symbols drawn in caves; Eventually, the need for long distance and mass communication brought about the invention of telephones and printing presses. Furthermore, innovation and efficiency gave birth to the internet and social media.

The consumer is no longer to be considered one of many but one individual, changing the scope of business marketing and the tools it uses to target the consumer. This new Social environment requires marketers to change the message from Hello, everyone to Hello, you.


Digital Printing: Changing the message, one print at a time.


Our 2010 encounter with GraphExpo confirmed that there’s a new sheriff in town and he’s more efficient, has more abilities and is constantly growing both in capacity and awareness. This is the true current state of commercial printing.

Digital Press Speeding

Walking in, you notice the absence of the tantalizing aroma of press chemistry. The knocking sound; faint, lacking. Apprehension sets in, a slight shiver of concern triggers a bead of sweat to trickle down the forehead of many attendees.

As we entered, the modest noise level echoing the building pronounced the quantity of offset presses being displayed on the floor. Much of the collateral we amassed in our journey through the isles was about digital technology, Variable Data Printing (VDP), Digital Presses, QR Codes and PURLs.

The cover of “the magazine” distributed by the Printing Industries of America is riddled with QR Codes as are the interior pages and the title: “A Blueprint for Your Future”. If this does not warrant the fact that digital printing is here to stay, then nothing will.

Fear Not, Change is here!

There is no cause for alarm, this is fair warning.
No one in the industry expects to start seeing offset presses out on the curb tomorrow. Digital printing still has some work to do to catch up with the efficiency and cost that an offset press offers for large runs or even large format for that matter.

Print brokers, advertising agencies and designers are yet to really understand the advantages of Variable Data which is only starting to mature. Assembling a VDP campaign is no easy task at this point and collecting the data necessary takes time and lots of energy.

Until your local pizza guy can easily and inexpensively access the tools to create a database of his current customers, upload a picture of their favorite pizza and tailor a message to them specifically without breaking a sweat, it is the duty of the advertising agencies, print brokers and designers to promote and manage these types of campaigns.

This running sentence bears a very important question:

Is this a job for the printing company?

Some printing companies have already incorporated the “Print Agency” model. Everything from strategy to fulfillment is carried out by one entity.

Do you think that a printing company should involve themselves in the creative process?

Should advertising agencies start merging with print shops or vice versa?

We would really like to hear your thoughts on this subject,

please post a comment below…