A press pass is a check that is carried out to ensure that the actual final printed sheets are exactly in line with the high-resolution proof that you have approved. To understand the role of press passing, it is essential to look at the process involved in printing. We will take catalogues as an example.

Once the file is uploaded to us, it goes through the ‘rip’. The rip splits the file into the CMYK values of how it will be produced. This then gets saved. From that, we create a high-resolution proof that gives a representation of how the colours will look, which is then sent through for approval.

Once approved, the CMYK split is then transferred electronically to the press, and the colours will print to exactly those values. This is electronically scanned, and once the machine minder is happy that the scans match exactly, they will approve the job for printing. This is called an ISO calibration process which ensures what’s on the screen and what’s on the press match exactly.

Below are some reasons why we feel press passing is so important:

  • If you don’t press pass, the only thing that is guaranteed in terms of colour management is that the correct CMYK values are being scanned. The reality is very often that those colours need to be amended on press to ensure that they are a true representation on the creatives design.
  • The catalogues are printed on to different paper stock to the proof, so you are not truly going to know how the images look on the actual final paper until they go on press.
  • The digital proofing process uses a toner style heat transfer process which sits on top of the paper rather than using a ‘wet ink’ process that soaks into the paper, so again you are only truly going to know how that looks when the catalogue is on the press.
  • Very often images and photography have only been seen on screen or printed off on a non ISO calibrated printer, so very often the first time the images are seen in genuine high resolution are on the press.
  • With most photos going straight to digital now, they are often only viewed on a computer which has a light bulb behind it so the images can look very different on paper and this can be controlled at the press pass stage.
  • While modern printers are highly sophisticated and use state of the art printing processes, all printing is still a very subjective art with many variables that can affect the end result. This is something only the designer or someone who has a lot of experience of the products can know when it looks correct.
  • We strongly recommend a press pass as it’s the only way you can be 100% happy with the finished product.

Get in touch to find out more about press passing or how PSE can help you.

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