Design Print: FlightCheck Preflight for Printing Quality Control

What Does “Preflight The Design” Mean?

To preflight the design is an important step in the print workflow. FlightCheck is the standard and patented preflight solution. Markzware, the developer of FlightCheck, asks the graphic designer, “Has this ever happened to you?”

The scenario: You’ve sent your marketing masterpiece that you have meticulously designed to your printer. The deadline is tight, but you made it. Then the phone rings. It’s your printer calling about printing problems involving your piece. You are about ready to scream because the client is waiting to get this job out to his customers.

You ask the printer what the printing problems are. The response: You sent low-resolution graphics, and have missing files and graphic items with the wrong color space. The job also has missing or stylized fonts. You think, “Ugh, why didn’t I know the file I created and designed was improperly prepared?” The reason is that this content creation did not involve preflighting the design. FlightCheck could have prevented this embarassment.

Design Print: FlightCheck Preflight for Printing Quality Control

Preflight graphic design for print, using Markzware’s preflight solution for print quality control

The word “design” means more than making a product look pretty. Of course, how a piece appears is important, but possibly more significant is how the piece works and functions. The design’s performance is the result of the designer’s objectives in terms of getting the reader to think and do something. Wikipedia’s definition of “design” includes this statement: “Designing normally requires a designer to consider the aesthetic, functional, and many other aspects of an object or a process, which usually requires considerable research, thought, modeling, interactive adjustment, and re-design.”

To ensure printing quality, it is imperative that the “mechanical design” is accurate. What a preflight solution like FlightCheck does is assist the “right brained” designer, by providing a logical/mechanical software solution that does the left-brained work for him. Preflight is a logical process in the overall design and construction of the piece to be printed. The end objective of the print workflow needs to be thought out well in advance, so that the piece will print as expected. If this doesn’t happen, the entire design concept is worthless.

In the new era of digital design, graphic artists must think beyond aesthetics and accept some of the responsibility once held by prepress and printers. While checking for printing quality control, a preflight solution, such as FlightCheck, provides in macro terms the benefit of “lean” manufacturing for both designers and printers.

To preflight the design and establish an effective print workflow:
• identify defective products
• eliminate overproduction
• reduce work-in-process inventory
• avoid over-processing
• stop unnecessary movement of people and of products
• wait

Graphic artists of days gone by may have had it easier than their contemporary counterparts. Primarily, they could concentrate on the aesthetics of great content, allowing others — prepress and print production people, for example — to deal with the mechanics of producing it.

The role of today’s graphic artist is a bit more complicated, thanks to the introduction of new electronic media and a shift of responsibilities. By and large, “prepress” has fallen by the wayside, leaving it up to creative professionals to be both designers and technicians, and to bridge the gap between design conception and final reproduction.

A design’s destination (print, online, CD-ROM, and so forth) clearly determines how a file should be created. A document bound for print will have different resolution, color-space, and trim-and-bleed requirements, for example, compared to content meant for the Web. It is important to know the output intentions, and it is equally critical to ensure that digital files meet those specifications.

The bottom line is to follow the basic rules of print production and to check designs with FlightCheck when preflighting during prepress. A systematic check of files before they go to a print vendor or are printed in-house is the best way to ensure printing quality control for error-free output.

One of the easiest ways to save is to pay close attention to prepress expenses. The costs of film, direct-to-plate or creating PDF files for print are enormous. And when there is a problem resulting in the job to be re-printed the costs add up, exponentially. Preflighting with FlightCheck, the thorough preflight solution, can save tons of time and money during the print workflow.

The printed word is a reliable format for reaching potential audiences. Creating eye-catching flyers and marketing material has been greatly enhanced by digital technologies. Page layout programs, such as QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign, have helped streamline the design and production process, which involves acquiring materials, designing the piece and checking the integrity of the file before final print, as when preflighting with FlightCheck.

Preflighting the design with FlightCheck takes only moments. Those few seconds can save graphic professionals hours of misery caused by having to fix printing problems that show up after film or plates are created. The savings in time, labor, money and materials can be tremendous to marketers eager to get the message in the hands of potential new customers.

Preflight your design before printing. Buy Markzware’s pre press software via the FlightCheck page. See more printing solutions on the Markzware Products page.

Design Print: FlightCheck Preflight for Printing Quality Control