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Once you've given your digital file one last tweak its time to submit the job to the printer. A lot of happens between the time your CD lands on the salesman's desk. And the moment when that first trimmed and folded piece lands in a hopper in the bindery. First a customer service representative-- also known as CSR--will enter your job in to the printing company's job tracking system. The CSR will be your main contact during the life of the job. Next, either the CSR or member of the prepress staff will preflight your job.
Preflight is an industry term for what's wrong with this picture. At the stage the preflighter is looking for simple problems such as missing artwork or fonts. And more serious problems such as a file built the wrong size. If problems are found the CSR will contact you and ask you if you want to fix the problems or whether you prefer to have the prepress staff perform the surgery. The more serious the problem of course, the more potential there is for it have an impact on the overall job schedule, that's why preflighting is performed to catch those problems early.
Next, a planner or estimator will lay out the lifecycle of the job scheduling each part of the manufacturing process. At this point target dates are set for each stage, prepress, plating, press run, bindery and so forth and the cost of the job is established. Next, prepress staff will process your files perform any needed surgery and generate a contract proof. We'll talk more about contract proofs in a bit. Keep in mind that if the prepress staff has to modify your files that doesn't mean necessarily that you made a mistake, sometimes is to accommodate printing needs.
They may also generate a folding dummy which shows all the pages in final position, if it's a multi-page project such as a brochure or magazine. Once the contract proof is okayed the imposed files pages arranged in the correct order for printing are imaged to plates. Unless the job is printing on a digital press which doesn't require plates. Next, plates are mounted, ink is applied and the press is run up to speed. And after makeready which is setting up the press the ink density and the register and so forth. Finally, printed paper begins to come out of the press.
If you've never seen this you really should visit a printing plant to see what all happens to your job. Finally, some presses perform in-line finishing such as folding and paginating the printed paper some don't. Most jobs will be finished in the bindery department where folding, trimming, stitching and other finishing processes such as embossing may take place. Now it's really a printed piece. Now that you have an overview of your jobs' lifecycle we'll focus on one of the most important milestones in the life of your job, the contract proof.
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