Pre-press is the stage prior to printing where your print-files are readied to go onto the presses. A technician will check your artwork is in order, remove information from the file that is not relevant and double-check the file for any errors that may cause a problem at the print stage. After this has been done you will receive a Proof PDF ready for sign-off.
If you are happy with your Proof, the artwork then gets sent to press through a process called RIP (raster image processing). This is where your artwork is separated from the PDF into all its relevant colours (usually CMYK, but sometimes also with Spot Colours), and made into the aluminium plates ready for printing.
A proof is the test which is used to double check everything before printing the entire run. You can either get an electronic PDF proof, or a physical (hard copy) proof. It gives you and the printer an accurate impression of how the finished product will look, and gives an opportunity to check things such as artwork quality, placement, colour and spelling.
Printer’s marks are added on to your artwork before we send you the PDF proof. In summary, these are a series of lines and marks applied to the artwork to ensure your artwork will be placed exactly where you intend, that it will properly cover the desired area, and that the printing is correct in terms of ink.
Pagination refers to the process of dividing a document into pages and laying out text and graphics onto a large sheet of paper, known as the parent sheet. Specialist software is used to put the pages in the correct place for the plates so that when the parent sheet is printed on both sides and folded (to grouping known as a signature), the pages all line up in the correct order.
Printing plates are the thin metal plates that are etched with the specific colour for your artwork. For a CMYK print one plate will be etched for each of the colours (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). The ink is added to the plate and a rubber drum then rolls over it to pick up the image. It then transfers the image to the paper.