The right type of proofing saves you money and time.
Two types of proofing media is available: press proof and digital proof. Which one better suits your needs and budget? Let’s take a look both so you can make an informed decision. While China used to be known for producing very cheap press proofs (relatively speaking); it has been gradually switching over the digital proofs over the past few years.
What is Press Proof?
Press proofs are made by specialized printing presses using the actual ink and paper. As a matter of fact, the printing plates used by the press proof will be later used on the actual commercial production of the job. These specialized proof presses are semi-automatic and can only print one color at a time, so to print a standard full-color job, four of these presses are needed. Since the press proof uses actual ink and paper as the real commercial production, the press proof can be finished and bound just like a real piece.
What is Digital Proof?
Digital proofs come in a wide variety of different flavors. Most digital proofs are produced by inkjet printers. These inkjet printers are not the regular home desktop inkjets; they are professionally manufactured for the graphics arts and printing industry. The paper, ink, software, and hardware used to make a digital proof are much more expensive than a regular home desktop inkjet. Digital proofs come in flats and cannot be finished and bound. They are usually used to make sure the color and other elements are in the proper place.
Which is Better?
If the files have been proofed for color already (in-house or with your designer) and the contents are not likely to change, a press proof will provide a better sense of how the final product will turn out.
At-a-Glance Digital Proofs vs. Press Proofs
|Digital Proofs||Press Proofs|
|Finished and bound||No. Flats sheets only||Yes|
|Actual Printing Ink||No||Yes|
|Actual Paper Stock||No||Yes|
|Real Printing Dots and Screen Angles||No||Yes|
|Consistent Color from One Round to the Next||Yes||No|
|Cost per Initial Proof||Low||High|
|Cost per Subsequent Proof||Low||High|
|Good for Making Changes||Yes||No|
|Color Accuracy||Simulated; however, it is very close||99% to the actual printing|
|Color Consistency over Rounds||Excellent||Fair|
|Registration of Colors||Perfect||Fair|
|Turn-Around Time||3-7 days||10-14 days|
Common Draw-Backs of Press Proofs
|Manual Paper Feeding||Pressman can easily cause scratches, smudges, fingerprinting, etc.|
|Printing One Color per Unit||None of the four pressman will have complete control over the final collective full-color.|
|Real Printing Plates||Expensive to replace if there are changes to the file.|
|Binding and Finishing||Hand-made: will be less perfect, less sturdy, and uneven than the actual production piece.|
|Digital Proofs||Press Proofs|
|Cost to Replace One Page||$10||$107|
|Cost to Replace Two Pages||$20||$107 to $214|
Cost estimation is based on 64 page standard size catalog. Price shown here is for reference only and does not reflect actual cost.
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