DIGITAL PROOFING -- Bouncing a Process Check
While printing to standards can drive down costs, it can also eliminate some of the differentiation between shops, Zwang points out.
"We're running to the standard, but our version of it," points out Chris DeBone, production manager at Hagadone Printing. "The proof still has to match the press. We don't want to have to explain to a client that we're providing a standard proof, but it doesn't match the press.
"We tweak the profile for economic purposes," DeBone continues. "Making the proof and press match reduces the need for press proofs. But, our color is not going to match a shop down the street."
"Individual printers can print sheets that meet the standard and the color will look totally different," Birkett agrees. That's because the standards are still lacking in some respects, he believes.
From a business standpoint, DeBone says there also can be a less obvious downside to implementing standards. "As we are running to density numbers, more clients are just going with an imposition proof. We've lost a profit center in color proofing," he explains.
The question of whether or not to print to standards comes down to economics, says Jim Sewell, vice president of technology at LP Thebault. "Is nailing down these standards going to make us any more successful?," he asks rhetorically.
A proof is seen as a tool for assigning blame, so customers don't want to sign a contract proof because that makes them responsible for the final product, Sewell asserts. "We do more press proofs today than we did five years ago. In pushing to make our printing more distinctive, we're using coatings and stock alternatives that proofers can't match," he says.
As a final thought, David Flanagan, president of Cambridge Prepress Services, notes there is a large variety of proofing options, each with different capabilities. "We need to keep customers in the loop about what is being proofed at a given stage of the workflow and on a specific device," he says. "Everyone needs to understand the capabilities of each proofing system used."