Digital Printing provides its own world of distinct obstacles when it comes to getting your printing just right. We’re gonna help you navigate the best practices when it comes to preparing your files for digital printing. From beginning to end, we’re gonna make this as smooth as we possible can.

How to prepare files for digital printing

1. Source files are best.

The list of software for designing print-ready files is ever growing. High quality source files are best when preparing your work for Disc Pro Graphics. Packaging your inDesign source files makes it easier for any edits that might need to be made after you believe the job is ready.

This includes images, fonts and text frames in your artwork ready for your unique layout to be managed easily with last minute changes. If you are only providing a high quality PDF, then make sure your fonts being used are completely embedded so that any requested last minute changes are able to be followed through seamlessly. Providing these fonts will be critical when needing variable data printed.

2. Use C,M,Y,K not R,G,B in your documents.

When designing, your document needs to be displayed in a C,M,Y,K value, this will make sure that when the job is rasterized there is less distortion of color from your original expectations. RGB is great for computer displays but does not translate identically into print.

Images converted from RBG to CMYK will give you closer representation of what can be printed even though its not perfect, it will give you a better idea of how color shifts might occur, and allow you to make changes to the CMYK levels that could better utilize your design technique.

3. How to get the richest blacks

When printing a solid black using the standard 100% Black might not turn out as rich and full as you would like. Here’s a printing trick for making sure you get the richest black,

Instead of only using 100K, try using 40C, 40M, 30Y, 100K, this is Disc Pro’s Standard for rich black. Other designers sometimes user higher CMY values, believing they will get an even richer black but when it comes to digital printing this just adds to the complexity of the Dry Ink Toner fusing to the substrate. This rich black mixture we advocate for is a beautiful medium to get the best of both worlds.

4. Make sure and add bleed

During the creation of your documents bleed might be something that you don’t always remember, but if you want your artwork to go right to the edge of the sheet, you will need bleed.

Setup at least .125 in. or 9pt bleed in your inDesign and PDF document settings all the way around and drag your artwork over the edge of the trim mark. This practice becomes ever more critical the more complicated your print job becomes, folding, die cutting, and stitching, Just make sure when you export the PDF for print it includes the bleed setup originally in the document settings.

5. Embed your fonts

Often times many fonts are used then later an edit is requested but Disc Pro might have a slightly different font than the file you downloaded or possibly the font was created into an outline and can’t be edited easily. When requesting an edit before your project goes to print, if the font is embedded into the pdf document those type changes can be made on the fly without having to send extra files.

6. Test your fonts

Find out before going to print that your font doesn’t have any restrictions. Using inDesign, export a print PDF from your packaged file before sending it over and make sure you’re not being given any errors.

7. Special Pantone colors

Prioritizing communication about any Pantone colors that are designed into your artwork helps us bring your design to life. It might be a logo, or a specific piece of artwork that utilizes a specially chosen Pantone.

When printing digitally there are few things that can be done about attempting to match a Pantone accurately because of the limited C,M,Y,K color range. But simply communicate this to Disc Pro Graphics and we will let you know if our digital printing special 5th color stations are able to assist in getting closer than the standard CMYK conversion for your chosen Pantone.

It is very common to leave Pantone specific colors within a C,M,Y,K document for critical color specific projects. You can either decide to Convert the colors yourself to C,M,Y,K. Or leaving it within the document and being aware of this, Disc Pro can check the hard proof for a close color match that you intended.

8. White text on black background

How to get the brightest white text? Use a rich black. That’s the best advice when printing on white paper when your text is surrounded by large dark solid colors. But if you are printing on colored stock, Disc Pro Graphics has the ability to print white ink on black, or any colored stock and give you the added benefit of enhancing your design.

9. Grey colors in digital print

Grey colors are very difficult for digital printing. anything above 80% black tends to be very dark to the point of black, and below 20% starts to be inconsistent in color. So sticking between these percentages tend to give the best printed results.

Disc Pro uses a light black as our standard 5th station ink unit in our Kodak NexPress SX3300 and this gives us much more control over lighter shades. This comes standard from our digital job workflow. Light Black at 100% is equivalent to 40% Black. This increases the smoothness of skin tones, and large transitions of light shades of color. Unless using multiple passes this light black 5th color assistance is sacrificed when choosing a different 5th color station such as gold or white or dimensional.

Grey shift with less than 4% CMYK Difference is very noticeable

10. File trapping

Should I trap my digital files? Unlike offset the digital press Disc Pro Graphics digital presses can convert from your pdf and create trap where needed automatically. At Disc Pro Graphics with all the specialty color printing that we support, we have found that using trap is necessary for printing CMYK color over white ink on Black and dark colored stocks during the 2nd pass through the press to make these runs more consistent in color.

11. High Quality Photos

Assemble your resource files with at least 600 dpi, our NexPress SX3300 has the capability to print at this high of a resolution. If you are embedding a lower res photo, be sure that you might not like the quality if that printed image is stretched too large. If your photo is more dense than 600 dpi you can always downscale, if it’s too large to work with. But never increase the resolution of a photo to match a higher dpi believing it might come out looking better.

Conclusion

Digital Printing is growing every year, its capabilities are pushing the bounds of printing in ways that couldn’t have been imagined just a while back. This section of the print industry is changing rapidly and Disc Pro is keeping up with the latest demands of the Digital Printing frontier. I sure hope this was a helpful collection of amazing tips for file preparing for digital printing. Be sure and let us know if you have any more questions we can answer in the comments. And also check out our tips for Designing for Digital Printing.