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In the prepress production phase, an expert technician will review your files, both manually and through preflight software, for any sign of a problem that may cause production errors. An electronic proof is issued once your PDF files pass the preflight inspection. We provide electronic proofing to all of our customers for free, and all projects are required to go through this process — unless you’ve printed with us before and are using the exact same production files. When you receive your electronic proof via email, you may have suggestions from your prepress expert for changes that should be made to your files before sending them into production. You’ll also notice that printer’s marks have been added to your files. These are special marks to indicate different elements such as trim, bleed, and center. If requested, hard copy proofs (for books and games) may also be created and sent to you for approval, usually for color purposes. Hard copy proofs are not available for domestic orders, but single-unit orders can be purchased before placing a higher volume digital-offset order.
Once you have approved your proof and sent your files to press, the next phase in prepress production is that your files are output through a process called the RIP (Raster Image Processing). During this part of the prepress production process, your images are separated into four colors and output onto four metal printing plates – one plate for each of the colors of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK). These thin metal plates are sturdy enough to be used for many thousands of printing impressions, yet also flexible enough to wrap around a rotating cylinder inside the printing press. Metal printing plates are not required for digital-offset printing, but the process is similar in the way colors are separated and then applied to paper substrates to create your art.