Have you wondered what a Press Check is, what might be involved and whether you need to do one for your printed project or not? In this blog we explain what role a Press Check plays in the print production process, what the difference is to a digital or spinjet proof and help you decide whether you need to do one or not.
What is a Press Check?
After artwork has been digitally set up by our pre-press team and after the proofs have been digitally approved, some projects may require a Press Check as well. A Press Check happens on the Press, as the job is being set up by our Printers and is used to ensure that colour, paper and the overall final results are to the clients expectations. A Press Check is not as common as it used to be, as our technology for digital proofing has come such a long way and is also much faster causing less delays to overall processing time.
When would I need to do a Press Check?
For most printed projects, checking the digital proofs carefully is sufficient but there are some instances where a Press Check may be requested by us (as your printer) or by you (the client) for reasons such as;
If your project is using a specialty stock, uncoated paper or a unique substrate where variations may be expected when printed.
Where accuracy of images is of particular importance like fine art and photography prints. Also printing skin tones can require some extra fine tuning, particularly where large surface areas of skin tones is to be printed on uncoated paper.
Printing catalogues where colour matching to physical products is crucial. For example we have done this for Puretec to exactly match the grey colour of their filtration products in their printed catalogues.
If your project is attempting to colour match a previous job, a press check may help the client work with the printer to achieve the closest possible match. Due to differences in machines, technology and materials an exact match is not always achievable.
If you'd like to do a Press Check to experience the excitement of your job in production and take some behind the scenes or in the making photo's or video - Yep! Most of the time we can accommodate this for you when your project is on our Offset Presses. Many of our clients, especially if it is their first project, love to see it come together and smell that fresh printed smell of many months of work finally coming to life! Security levels and Covid-19 measures permitting, all we ask is you tag us in your social media posts or blogs please.
In most instances, digital proofing is enough, but if you're unsure we recommend asking your account manager.
What things should I check during a Press Check?
You should bring with you any references to the desired colour or end result you're after such as any previously approved proofs, spinjets, corporate style guides, physical products, pantone swatches or previous print runs. During the press check look for discrepancies in the following;
Paper stock - It is the correct surface finish, colour and thickness (grammage) you requested/expected?
Final Revised Proof - Ensure that the version being printed on the press is the final proof, particularly if you made any major changes prior to your final proof. As the offset press prints sheets in sections, you may need to wait around to see a particular section if your project has multiple pages.
Overall quality of images - Paying particular attention to flesh/skin tones.
Brand Colours - Ensure colours match your media kit or colour swatch/s.
Image Brightness - Check images are not too bright or too dark.
Consistency - Check colours between pages/sections are consistent without variations especially when held together.
Press Issues - Hickeys, scratches, ghosting, registration problems are to do with the set up and calibration of the press and can cause different marks or misalighment in your print project. Your account manager will accompany you to the Press Check to help with scanning your project for any of these issues. Although rare, they can happen particularly with the volume our presses consistently process in a single day.
What can't I change during the Press Check?
It's not so much that you can't change something during a Press Check, but there are a number of things which should have been carefully checked in previous proofs during the Pre-Press stage. Changing some things when your project is set up on the press could mean pulling your project off the press, so other jobs behind it can continue without disruption. Pulling your project off the Press will disrupt your projects progress too, as it will need to return to Pre-Press, at the back of the queue awaiting required changes. These include things like:
Spelling or grammar issues.
Layout issues in your original artwork
Missing images, text or elements that's also missing in your proofs or original artwork
Major or complete colour changes
Changes of paper stock, particularly if your desired stock is not on site.
If you do come across a major issue which you think warrants pulling your print job off the Press for, be sure to discuss this with your account manager as there may be additional charges involved.
Types of Pre-Press Proofs - Pre Press is the stage where your print-ready file is digitally set up to print, prior to your project being set up on the Press for print production:
Digital - Some jobs at Printcraft are proofed in PDF form before they are printed , others are proofed through the Kodak Insight Portal and run to ISO standards. A digital book is made for all jobs when there is more than one page.
Spinjet - A spin jet is a physically printed proof, often wiro bound but not trimmed, and is used sometimes for books, magazines or alike that have multiple pages. This allows page elements, page order and count to be confirmed. However this option requires postage or courier of a physical proof to and from the client, which can cause delays and may incur additional costs. In most cases digital proofs are sufficient and quicker.
What happens if I want the colour adjusted during a Press Check?
The technological advances in print have come a long way. Our presses are state of the art Heidleberg Speedmasters with incredible capability and our staff are trained to achieve ISO Colour Standards. In most instances our passionate Printers can make slight colour adjustments on the fly and re-print another set of Press-Proofs while you wait.
What happens after a Press Check?
Once you're happy with the Press-Proofs, you give approval to print by signing a proof sheet. The pallet of printed sheets on the end of the press is then tagged as proof checked and OK to proceed. Sheets below this tag remain with the job and can be used in later stages for setting up folding machines, die cutters or for binding set up. Our Printers will then continue to print your project, after which it will spend some time drying before continuing on through the production process. Which may be folding, guillotining, die-cutting, binding, mailing, storage or distribution.
We recommending checking with your account manager about whether you need to do a Press Check. While sometimes recommended it can be quite time consuming. Where pheasable some of our clients bring their laptops in and work remotely in our board room while they wait between checks.
Printcraft has been printing since 1982, continually improving our quality through investing in technology and our people. We're passionate and committed to ensuring our clients achieve impressive end results. To get your project started with us, contact us or take a look at our range of services available under one roof.