The printing industry can certainly seem like magic sometimes. You order a stack of flyers or business cards and then, miraculously, a few days later you have the finished product in your hand. There’s no witchcraft involved, of course — just the science of printmaking, a combination of skill, expertise, and, of course, some very specific prepress equipment.
But don’t worry — we’re here to peel back the curtain on the printing process. Today we’ll be discussing everything that goes into designing and preparing for a successful print run: prepress equipment and methods. Let’s get started!
What, Exactly, is Prepress and Prepress Equipment?
The concept of “prepress” is pretty straightforward when you get right down to it. It’s right there in the name: prepress is pre-press, i.e. after a printer receives a new order (and usually a graphics file) from a client but before they actually print the order.
…prepress hardware explores the desktop workstation, input devices, and output devices.Printing Industries of America
There’s a lot that takes place during prepress, making it easy to break down into multiple steps. While each print house goes about these steps differently and through the use of different types of prepress equipment, here’s the general gist of what happens next:
Taking place typically right after a client submits their graphics file, pre-flighting is when a staff member takes that file and reviews it carefully to ensure it’s in good shape for translating into printed form. It takes a good eye and a strong attention to detail for pre-flighting, which is why most pre-flight checks are done by experienced graphic designers that know the digital layout and design programs used by the print industry inside and out.
Pre-flighting is important because it’s pure quality control. It catches issues with the graphics file that may need to be corrected. If there are margin errors, if images aren’t formatted properly or if they’re the wrong resolution, if colors need to be converted to CMYK, or if any other elements need to be corrected, this all happens during pre-flight.
Once pre-flighting activities are done, the majority of print companies will create a proof. This is a “rough draft” of how the final product will look when it emerges from the printer, and it’s often shown to the client to allow them to provide feedback and to gain a better understanding as to how their finished product will look.
In some cases, digital proofs for print projects can be created in PDF format and emailed to a client for feedback. In others, physical proofs may need to be made, such as to demonstrate how a foldable brochure or mailer will look. This step is obviously important to both printer and client, as making sure everyone is on the same page before moving forward is a must.
Additional Prepress Steps
After a project has gone through preflight and it’s been proofed by both the print house and the client, there’s not much left to prepress. If the project is going to be completed on a digital printing press, the final step is simply to send the completed file to the printer; however, if you’re using offset printing, there’s some specialized prepress equipment that comes into play: the creation of printing plates.
Offset printers make use of physical plates that are needed to transfer ink to whatever substrate you’re printing on. These printing plates are custom-made for each print job. This obviously slows down the prepress process quite a bit, but there are advantages to offset printing that make it worthwhile, especially when it comes to offering large volume high-quality print runs. Either way, the creation of printing plates is typically considered the last step in the prepress process.
The Prepress Equipment at Las Vegas Color Graphics
As a full-service commercial printer, Las Vegas Color Graphics has invested in the latest technology and printing equipment.
Our prepress printing equipment includes the following:
- Kodak Prinergy prepress workflow rip/server manager
- Kodak Synapse Insite workflow Web Portal server
- Kodak Trendsetter Computer-to-Plate Digital Platemaker
- Fuji Plate processor
- Fuji FinalProof GxT Digital Halftone Proofer – 21½˝ X 25½˝
- Epson SureColor P9000 Inkjet Proofer – 43” X 60”, plus bleed
- Epson Stylus Pro 7880 Inkjet Proofer – 23” X 60”, plus bleed
- Epson Stylus Pro 9880 Inkjet Proofer – 43” X 60”, plus bleed
- Xerox DocuColor DC252 – 13˝ x 19˝ maximum sheet size
- 8-Core Xeon Mac Pro Workstation
- G5 Dual-processor Mac Workstation
- iMac Intel Workstation
- Microsoft Windows PC Workstation
Partner with Las Vegas Color Graphics for Access to the Best Prepress Equipment and Processes
Here at Las Vegas Color Graphics, we know that fine attention to detail makes our customers happy. That’s why we’ve earned a reputation as the Las Vegas region’s premier print house for the last 40 years — and much of that reputation comes from the care and attention that we pour into our prepress equipment and processes.
We employ some of the most talented and experienced graphic designers anywhere to handle our pre-flighting and proofing processes at Las Vegas Color Graphics. We have the most advanced prepress equipment and software needed to ensure that the project you envision in your head translates to exactly what you want to see on paper each time and every time. Contact us today to see exactly how we can make your printing dreams a reality!