What is a press inspection and what should your designer look for when performing one? Tips from Linda Lam, PCI’s Director of Design.
A press check or press inspection is a chance for a designer to review and manage the printing process while a project is in production and serves as part of a quality assurance process. Designers often attend press inspections on behalf of their client to ensure the design intent of the project is adhered to, the color looks flawless, and no details are overlooked.
When your designer performs a press inspection, they should concentrate on print quality and issues such as:
- Page layout
- Color separation
- Location of your graphics
- Whether the designer's corrections have been made
What to Expect Before & During the Press Inspection
Before your designer’s arrival at the inspection, the pressman needs to make sure the press machine is already operating. This will allow the ink to be a certain viscosity so the inspection can begin as soon as your designer arrives. They will be greeted by the pressman and your account representative—and potentially others—and taken on a plant tour. A press sheet will typically be ready when your designer arrives, or soon after.
What Your Designer Should Look For While Inspecting Your Press Sheet(s)
Overall look: Your designer should make sure to scan the entire press sheet in color-corrected light to evaluate the general quality. The printer will have a unique color booth.
Inks: Do the print colors match those in the Pantone ink book? Your designer will ensure that the colors match everywhere, and not only in one specific part of the press sheet.
Proof: Your designer will check that all of the corrections and changes they requested prior to the inspection (content and image tweaks) have been made. If not, the job should be pulled off of the press and a new inspection will be scheduled, at the expense of the printer.
Registration: Are the ink colors in the right places? Do the colors line up correctly and create a crisp edge? Your designer should use a loupe to look in random places on the press sheet, not just one.
Color Balance: Is the ink density consistent across the sheet? Your designer can use a gadget — called a densitometer — to run down color bars along the sides of the press sheet and take an accurate read.
Details: Are there any flaws in the printing such as broken type, hiccups, “ghosts” (light prints from the roller that pop up on the press sheet), scratches, etc.?
A press inspection ensures that you get the highest quality product in a manner that is cost-effective for the design shop, the client and the printer. Taking the opportunity to do a press check is highly recommended, especially for large, and/or complex print jobs.