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Printing Mistakes in PDF Files Prepress: Prevent Font Problems with FlightCheck

Printing mistakes happen. Printing mistakes caused by fonts, color and images quality are the prime culprits that damage smooth print workflows. These printing mistakes are just some of the topics covered by the Graphic Arts Institute [GAI] training program in San Francisco. The GAI is located in the Northern California Print Center, home of the Printing Industries of Northern California [PINC] and a number of other print-related businesses.

Preflighting is an important first step toward eliminating print mistakes, believes Michael Carling, executive director of the Graphic Arts Institute. “We look for problems with fonts, images, CMYK vs. RGB and difficult gradients.” One tool used for preflighting at the GAI is FlightCheck by Markzware. The examination begins with a check of native files created by staff and students. Using FlightCheck is part of the training that students receive at the GAI facility.

The GAI offers printing companies the opportunity to broaden their employees’ experience with electronic prepress, press and Web technologies. Along with the 20-inch press, the facility houses more than 30 computers, state-of-the-art software and a Creo CTP platesetter driven by a Delta RIP. The in-plant program uses a four-color 20-inch Heidelberg Speedmaster press to produce fliers, brochures, booklets and envelopes printed in print runs up to 8,000 units. Many of these printed pieces include information about PINC’s and GAI’s health program and health insurance program.

Font problems

Fonts are one of the biggest problems that cause printing mistakes. FlightCheck easily handles preflighting to catch font problems before printing. “A lot of the files from the on-staff design team come from different computers,” Carling says. “Those computers are not dedicated to the RIP.”

To combat a potentially bad documents, the design staff creates a PDF. Staff and students also use software for preflighting their PDF files.”It is easier to get interoffice approvals with PDFs,” says Carling. “I like the PDF file sizes because they are smaller, and our RIP handles native PDF. Often, the trapping is not correct. FlightCheck tells me where the problems are. That is where preflighting plays an important role,” Carling says. The big PDF hurdle at the Graphic Arts Institute is creating good native files before they’re re-created as PDF files. These measures mean a bad plate is rarely created at the GAI in-plant.

The software examines all images in a PDF document and determines the type, the mode (such as gray scale, indexed, RGB, CMYK, Lab, etc), the image resolution, the effective resolution (calculated based on the scale factor applied to the image), if the image contains a halftone or transfer function, if an ICC profile has been applied, if the image contains additional channels, if the ink density (highest pixel value) is greater than the specified amount, and so forth. FlightCheck does preflighting and provides reports to warn of all of these issues.

Prevent Font Problems with Markzware FlightCheck before Printing

FlightCheck can prevent font problems and other printing problems before you print!
This preflight solution also helps you to
collect files and package fonts.

Hands-on training

Most of the more than 1,000 students who attend the GAI’s training courses are print professionals looking to enhance their careers or to learn skills that will help them perform their jobs more efficiently – such as working with PDF files. Students receive hands-on training in more than 60 classes. Courses cover Web site development and design, press training and all forms of electronic prepress and design. Classes are taught by working industry professionals. One of the areas that the GAI gets help with is HTML and XML training. Carling does not have a huge demand for these courses because the printing companies that offer these services are well versed in how to set up Web pages and employ Webmasters. They often get help from an academy that teaches Perl scripting, CGI and more.

When asked about cross-media applications, Carling says, “I think there is a great convergence of technology and ideas in that space. It is where the graphics content creator is going… One of the things that troubles me is the fact that many of the students are proficient in only one program.  Some might know Photoshop, but might not know how to use Quark or InDesign.” FlightCheck can be used for preflighting documents in Photoshop, Quark, InDesign, and many other file formats.

Prevent printing mistakes

“One of the best ways to help prevent printing mistakes is preflighting,” says Carling. When a CD disk comes in the door, a print company should be able to check it immediately for any potential printing problems. Many small shops have employees who check the files and then proceed to electronic prepress. But, he believes the larger the company, the greater the need for this specific service. “If you are able to pinpoint a potential printing problem early, it is easier to correct because you can enlist the client’s help.

“In the courses we teach, we see a major demand for PDF, but, as it gets easier to make PDF files, content creators must remember the native application files have to be good to create and print PDF files. The growth of online services and e-commerce means that the need for PDF file creation is only going to grow. These documents allow for greater interaction between clients and creators. Because of the amazing ability of PDF files to easily move via the Internet, it is easy to get customer approvals.”

To prevent printing mistakes, use FlightCheck, the software for preflighting, available via the FlightCheck page. Try the free FlightCheck demo and see how. See more printing solutions on the Markzware Products page.

Printing Mistakes in PDF Files Prepress: Prevent Font Problems with FlightCheck