Tue 16th April


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From Proof to Print: How your job is produced

Have you ever wondered what happens to your order?  Your work goes through a number of processes here at Printworks before you receive the finished article. There are different stages depending on whether your work is large format or not, so here is a guide to the journey of an online business card.

Stage One – Checking the Artwork

With all of our artwork, we take great care in checking its specification so that it’s ready to print. We will check:

  • The resolution is 300dpi
  • All elements of the design are set up in the correct colour, either CMYK or spot (Pantone)
  • Any special finishes are included as part of the artwork
  • The document is the correct size and number of pages as specified
  • The document has bleed
  • The correct overprint settings are used if required
  • All black text is set to 100% black (i.e one solid black and not a mix of all four CMYK colours)

If any of these checks bring up a problem we will either ask you to edit the artwork accordingly, or we will correct the artwork in the studio.

Stage Two – Setting up the Artwork for Print

Now that the artwork is ready for printing we create an imposition. An imposition is where we position the artwork on a sheet that can then be made into plates for the printing press. Online business cards, for example, would be laid out and tessellated to fit a sheet, using specific rules for positioning depending on whether the documents have more then one side as well as number of pages. This sheet will include all cutting marks and a colour bar to allow accurate colour matching at the press.

Stage Three – Creating a Colour Proof

When the artwork is set up for print we produce a colour proof on our high quality Epson digital printer. This printer is colour calibrated to our press so that what is printed will colour match the finished work to within a high degree of colour accuracy. This way we can check the colour of your finished print before it even reaches the printing press.

It is important to note that for spot colour work, i.e.  Pantone, we do not need this stage as Pantone inks are already guaranteed for colour consistency.

Stage Four – A Second Round of Checks

The imposition is ready to go and we have an Epson colour proof, the next stage is for all the printouts to go to our proof-reader for thorough checking. They check the printing sheet against the approved artwork to check that all the details and design match, ensuring that nothing has corrupted or changed during setting up for print.

Stage Five – Printing

Now the artwork is ready to be put on the printing press. One of our experienced press technicians will take the sheet artwork and create plates that can be used on the press. For CMYK work the artwork will be split into its four constituent parts (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Keyline black) and a plate will be created for each. (For Pantone work, the job is split into the specified colours)

These plates are then loaded into our press. Our print technician will use the Epson colour proof as a colour accuracy reference during printing. In the simplest terms the press works by inking up each plate in its corresponding ink and as the paper is fed through the machine it is pressed against each plate in turn to build up the full design, leaving the press as the complete printed sheet. In most cases there is also fifth plate which puts a thin laminate layer over the entire printed sheet, you will see this as the protective matt finish on a matt laminated business card for example.

Stage Six – Finishing and Packing

The printed sheets are now ready to be made into the finished article. In the case of an online business card this would simply be cutting down and packing securely for shipping. However for some products this could also include folding, drilling, numbering, die-cutting or attaching multiple sheets together either by glue binding or stitching.

In the case of the card below, the card is die-cut to shape for its rounded corners.

And that’s it, a printer’s six degrees of separation from screen to finished product.


2 Responses to “From Proof to Print: How your job is produced”

  1. Rey Chun says:

    Interesting post. It’s nice to have the chance to see “behind the scenes”. A lot more technical than I expected it to be in the digital age

  2. Laura Harris says:

    Great to get an insight on what the process is and everything that goes into the finished article.

Leave a Reply to Laura Harris