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Growing Digital Options in Package Proofing

Bob Scherer

If there is one thing that can be universally said of how digital printing has impacted the beauty industry, it’s that as technology advances, so do the number of options when it comes to the production of packaging.

Take, for example, format choices in proofs for approval, which until recently had been limited to two—a “hard proof” printed right from the press and an electronic proof in the form of a PDF version (portable document format) of the file. “While both show the customer what the print will look like, the hard proof provides the best, most accurate proof, that correctly represents the color and content that will print for the job,” explains Jeremy Effertz, graphics supervisor at CL&D Digital. “Another bonus is that the hard proof is also printed on the actual material that is required for the job.”

The drawback? Hard proofs require manual delivery, and, at best, the proof will be received by the customer the next day. Since many projects do not allow enough time for a hard proof, the alternative electronic proof option allows the customer to quickly see the content and color break of the file for approval. “But a PDF is not color correct,“ Effertz cautions. “It will show the difference between an area that is red or green or orange, but will not show the exact color that the press will print.”

A third option called “remote proofing,” currently in development, simulates the output of a press with a highly specialized inkjet printer. A color-accurate simulation from a proofer will basically allow for the creation of virtual versions of presses.

Options such as this will expand proofing capacity on-site and also offer the option of installing a virtual press at other locations, including a brand owner’s site. Though the proof printed from the virtual press is not on the actual material, the color would be an accurate representation of the actual press output. This scenario would provide an electronic proof that is also color-accurate.

Though the remote proofing option also requires color management software and added technology, such systems offer savings through the elimination of time-consuming back-and-forth adjustments of color matching. Relative adjustments to the files to match colors can be made before actually sending the files to the press. In addition, simulating the press with the proofer reduces the amount of time that the presses are dedicating to printing proofs, and, because the cost of the proofer is a fraction of the cost of a press, this concept allows an increase the “color accurate” proofing capacity.

Bob Scherer is the vice president partner of CL&D Digital and a 25-year veteran in the printing and packaging industry as well as a conference speaker and writer. His message is designed to increase awareness of what digital printing technology can do and how it can help manufacturers get their products to market faster and cheaper.

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