Learning about prepress hardware and software with respect to your package printing operation is essential to a smooth workflow process down the road.
By Molly Joss
Properly designed and implemented, front-end prepress hardware and software form the backbone of the time and money savings inherent in digital workflows. It also allows package printers to gain better control over job preparation and scheduling.
There are several approaches to creating a front-end system from scratch: do everything yourself; work with a value-added reseller or consulting company; or, work with a company that sells a complete line of solutions. No matter what route you take, it's essential to know the basics and what to expect throughout the entire process before you start.
What You Need
Before you set out to locate and buy a prepress system, spend as much time as you need envisioning what the perfect prepress system for your company would be able to do. Put these ideas on paper to serve as a private wish list. Most likely, however, you won't find a single system that meets all these needs and desires. You will be able to more quickly eliminate systems that aren't equipped with enough of the capabilities you need, such as the ability to handle more than four colors.
Everyone's list will contain a few of the same items. But since packaging jobs vary widely, a prepress system must be able to handle a wide variety of functions with a high degree of diversity. A system good at handling one or two different types of jobs isn't versatile enough.
In addition, prepress systems designed originally, or exclusively, for offset may be under-powered for flexo or other technologies in such crucial areas as sophisticated trapping, versatile, easy-to-use step-and-repeat, and support for multiple inks (four+).
Once you know what you need, you can start looking. Working alone or with a consultant, you might want to put together a system from stand-alone applications. You can also work with a supplier that sells all, or many, of the components you'll need, including the hardware and software.