Advances in digital technology such as portable document files have made the on-site press check slightly less necessary. Print buyers with challenging titles to produce (or those who love to visit the factory) still need to come in for on on-site press check.
The Operator Must Be Prepared
Make sure all proofs, samples, and/or previous printings are press side. The operator needs to know in advance what is to be matched for color. This may seem like a no-brainer but there could be samples or other materials not in the place they should be (with the pressman) because of a miscommunication or oversight.
Call your printer and make sure they have everything they need to complete the press check. Your printer should also be following up with you but it never hurts to double check things. Confirmation in advance can save time and money for everyone involved.
Make sure there is enough paper on hand to complete the whole process. You don’t want to stop early and then re-start later because you will not like the result. Press tests can tend to have more make-ready than normal.
You also want to be sure that the paper being used is as you have requested. The goal of a press test is to make sure paper can be printed the same or near the same as what the customer already has produced or what they are looking for. Printing on paper other than what you requested could mean that you don’t get what you want.
Communication with Your Printer
It is important to plan and communicate when the test is to be completed and who are the parties involved. Press checks generally take a long time and any delay can cost more money. If you have unforeseen circumstances that will cause a delay, call your printer and let them know.
The same is true for printers. A good printer will communicate any delay or change in schedule so that both their time and the time of their customer is respected. A press check is a very involved and time-consuming process with a lot of moving parts. Lack of timely communication can make the process very frustrating.
The Operator should have the job on slightly earlier than planned. Approximately 1 hour before the press check is enough. This helps ensure that any obvious problems are identified and allows for time to correct things before the customer arrives. When the Customer gets to the press the operator should have a sheet that is very close to what is wanted.
Whoever is to give approval should closely inspect the printing and check all of the attributes that the operator should have already looked for. Registration, clean dot reproduction, content, and color are all core elements that should be closely scrutinized.
If there is coating of any kind on images, it’s good to talk about what the coating will do to the image. In some cases you can actually coat to see the difference that the coating makes. Film Lam is the only coating that we can do with wet ink and it is just to show the color difference. We normally wait for the ink to dry for 24 hours before coating to ensure best adhesion. Ink has to be dry before you can UV coat.
If everything is “good-to-go” the print buyer will sign-off and the run can move forward. Sheets that are satisfactory to the buyer should then be saved for a later date. Once the operator has the green light it is his/her responsibility to maintain the consistency throughout the run. Many printers will save an un-coated sample to archive so we can use it each time we reprint.
What things do you look for in a press check? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment below.