Show me the Proof.

Author:Hrinya, Greg
 
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By Greg Hrinya

New product developments continue to drive the accuracy and repeatability of proofing systems,

When it comes to printing labels, proofing might not offer the same name cache as other facets of the process, but it is no less important. A label converter's customer requires an accurate visual representation of what a label job will look like upon completion.This is where proofing conies into play.

Proofs are designed to provide brand owners and printers with an accurate mock-up of the finished product.This will include everything from color matching to layout positions. The various software suites available on the market can account for printing processes like flexo, digital, offset and gravure. In today's digital world, a proof can consist of a PDF with the necessary versions of the job. Converters will need approval from their customers before proceeding with a print job, in order to ensure what goes to press is exactly as it is intended.

According to Mark Samworth, a color consultant at Esko, the proofing process essentially requires a color printer with a larger gamut than the printing press, and a color management system that can alter the colors on the proof printer to match the final result when printed on the color press.

Marc Welch, director of strategic accounts at GMG, adds that a spec-trophotometer is often used to calibrate and validate proofing, as well as proofing software.The software, also commonly referred to as a proofing RIP, drives an inkjet printer and integrates the spectrophotometer into the proofing process. With the technological advancements in the printing industry, it comes as no surprise that proofing has become quite technical and efficient.

"Proofing has progressed quite significantly over the past 40 years," explains Samworth."At first, it moved from press proofing to off-press proofing of film. From there, it advanced to proprietary digital proofing systems, where the color printer and color management system were together in one unit made by one vendor. Now, the color printer is a mass-market product--with thousands being manufactured a year--and is driven by color management software that performs the specialty function to make the device match the press."

Spectral data has also improved the proofing process. "The ability to use spectral data as opposed to L*a*b* data has really changed how profiles are made and what profiles can do." explains Jessica Harrell, technologies manager at Anderson &Vreeland. "Spectral data gives so much more information about the ink and how it changes in color in relation to substrate, density and dot gain changes. This creates a more predictive profile, but it also allows a profile to be created from less press data."

Even with enhanced technology, Samworth notes that virtual soft proofing--approval based on computer images--could work in certain applications, but the option is not a great...

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