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FLEXO Magazine : February 2009
Preparing for Prepress Pre-purchase Advice for the Printer/Converter By Simon James T here is a lot of increased interest among printers/convert- ers to invest in in-house prepress departments. A task that was solely left to trade shops is now seriously considered by printers as a way to gain additional control in the production process. With an in-house prepress department, a printer/con- verter can control the timing of jobs, along with gaining control of the entire process from design up to the point of manufacture. However, building a prepress department is not without its pitfalls. There is a reason why trade shops have held this respon- sibility for so long: it requires a very extensive knowledge base to do the job correctly, as well as a commitment to investment in hardware and software. There are a number of considerations a print shop must make before beginning such an endeavor. INVESTIGATE TECHNOLOGY One of the best suggestions is to take a tour of an existing prepress operation. Explore how the firm handles its work. Learn, firsthand, how complicated packaging prepress can be, and what kinds of technology are required to get the job done. Look at the tools that are used and who the vendors are. Get a sense of how the trade shop staffs its production departments. - A printer must be very careful about investing in the entire prepress workflow, because it requires a large leap of faith, par- ticularly if there is not access to good, experienced people. It is also important to employ qualified personnel. All of the best equipment and software will not help anyone if the right people are not in place. This is a difficult problem. It is tough to take someone who used to work a flexo press and suddenly make him/ her responsible for prepress. There is a reason why printers/con- verters have relied on trade shops for so long. Although software has made prepress easier than it was before, there are still many technical issues required to make sure that a file-and ultimately a plate-will be prepared adequately for press. From our experience, it is not rare to see printers make the decision to bring the entire prepress process in-house. However, as they learn how complicated it can be, they decide it is best to do so, step by step. A common practice is for printers to start by making their own digital plates, utilizing the prepress expertise of prepress partners to provide the corrected files ready for the platesetter. As time progresses, printers will explore other por- tions of file preparation, until they are comfortable enough to do everything on their own. FEBRUARY 2009 www.f I exog ra p hy.o rg FLEXO
Sustainable Winter 2009