Prepress in the Digital Age

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FlightCheck can check digital files for print quality during prepress, before printingMarkzware‘s patented preflight technology for digital printing helps to catch printing errors, prior to document output. Since Markzware develops this solution to preflight digital files, we noticed this great article by John Giles, titled “PREPRESS IN THE Digital Age“:

“Everyone says they are different. Their shop is different. Their market is different. Their customers are different. Yet as I visit and chat with hundreds of printers throughout North America each year, it quickly comes evident that there are more similarities than differences. Whether the company is in a large metropolitan market or a small rural community, many of the challenges and opportunities remain the same. No matter what the customer mix or sales levels, there are trends that move the industry forward or, in some cases, hold it back.

I conduct digital audits and training for printers to evaluate how the company is doing in the prepress area and help develop a plan for improvement. This gives me a front row seat to see the changes in the industry. Here are the trends, both good and bad, I’m seeing in the industry in 2008.


The trend continues to show low sales for the prepress department. Whether it is from low prices or poor records, the sales level usually doesn’t reflect the amount of work being doing by the prepress staff. With everything from desktop publishing and design to website management, variable data, and W2P being performed by the prepress staff, it is hard to image that they are generating the low amount of sales recorded on the balance sheet.

For most shops, the sales levels are reactive rather than proactive. Prepress is just part of the job, and the creative or intellectual value of the department is usually ignored in favor of a priced based on the time spent on the job. Instead of selling value, most printers continue to use time as the prevalent pricing factor. Prepress continues to be a loss leader in many shops, but when you take a closer look, this is causing them to lose money that can’t be recaptured in printing fees.

Successful shops are trying to break out of time pricing and are looking to do more design work with higher value. Printers selling more marketing material, using color and technology such as variable data printing, are getting a higher price for their desktop publishing work. Watch for a trend of printers adding more marketing types of services to capture the value added dollar.

Prepress Employees

Prepress technicians are replacing graphic artists. The trend is for printers to look for employees with strong technical backgrounds in applications, the Internet, and variable data since creative services can be outsourced from graphic design freelancers or offshore document creation services. For most quick and small commercial printers, the bulk of their work comes from customer created files that usually require some prepress time to get them to output properly. The prepress employees need to have a basic understanding of software and equipment to get the jobs to print correctly, so most printers need a technician rather than a creative type.

Graphic designers may be required if a printing company wants to pursue more marketing based printing services. Too often, there isn’t enough “graphic” work to require a full time designer. The lead person in the prepress department tends to be a technician. The real need is for employees who are able to communicate the digital needs to customers, vendors, and coworkers and manage output.

Customer Created Files

The number of files created by customers continues to grow as more people use computers. Everyone thinks owning a graphic software program makes them graphic artists. The industry trend is to make it easier for customers who create their own files to buy printing. Successful printers are establishing certain standards as to how a customer must create and submit the file. Printers are requiring customers to use the PDF format when submitting files and using automatic PDF creation programs to assure they get good files. Prepress technicians get the file ready to print properly rather than redesigning the document…”

Prepress professionals can ensure print quality control for their documents. FlightCheck preflight software can preflight PDF files and more for print quality. FlightCheck warns you of potential printing problems, before it’s too late.

Try the free FlightCheck demo to see how FlightCheck can provide print quality control for your digital workflow. FlightCheck is available online from Markzware via the FlightCheck page. See more printing solutions on the Markzware Products page.

Prepress in the Digital Age

Title: Prepress in the Digital Age
Published on: October 15, 2008
Mary Marchese

Public Relations at Markzware

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