Prior to a flexible package being printed, the design starts as a digital file. These files contain more than just the design, and each piece allows a pre-press coordinator to prepare your design to go from a digital file to a physical stand-up pouch, lay flat pouch, or roll stock.
Once you submit your artwork to your flexible packaging company, the next step involves getting your files “printer ready”. This phase, after the order and design file, is received, but before any printing has taken place, is referred to as pre-press. This is when a pre-press coordinator looks over your files to prepare your project for printing.
We know that as a CPG brand you want your package to make its way to the printer as quickly as possible. The sooner it’s on the press, the sooner your product will be in your consumers’ hands. However, when your file has issues, or you overlook a file requirement, delays can occur (whomp whomp). To help avoid delays and have your package in your hands quicker, we’re sharing the five most common mistakes that can stop the printing process in its tracks.
The Colors Are Wrong
Using the right colors in your flexible package design is incredibly important. There are two types of color models: RGB (red, green, blue) and CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (key)).
The RGB color model is used for designs that appear on a computer screen or electronic display. The screen you’re reading this article on right now — whether on your iPhone or laptop — is utilizing the RGB color model.
The CMYK color model, on the other hand, is used for designs that are digitally printed. Digital printers, like the HP digital presses we use at ePac, and the digital printers you have at your office, require CMYK. Additional hues are possible with CMYK, such as orange, green, and violet, which is referred to as “extended gamut”, and allows the printing presses to match a variety of colors more closely.
Many times, files will be submitted using the RGB color model. While this is great for the computer display, unfortunately, it isn’t great for a digital printer. Ensuring your designs are set in CMYK before submitting them to your pre-press coordinator will help get your designs on the digital press sooner.
The Images Are Blurry
Blurry images equal blurry packaging, which will cause just about any designer (or consumer) to go cross-eyed. Ensuring your images are high-resolution will allow for clear images once the designs hit the printing press. If possible, provide a vector or pixel-based image that is 300 DPI or higher. Anything lower than 300 DPI will appear pixelated or blurry once printed. Check with your package designer on the resolution of all of the images in your design prior to submission.
Your Package Dimensions Are Off
Creating a design that matches your exact package dimensions is key. You may know the exact size of your package, but if your artwork doesn’t reflect that, then you’ve got a discrepancy that will cause delays. Make sure that everyone you’re working with is on the same page about the size needs, especially your artwork designer.
The Text Isn’t Legible
Every great design will incorporate some form of text, whether it be your brand’s story or your product’s nutritional benefits. But if you’re not careful, that text can become illegible. Often times the way that text is displayed or the amount of text on the package can contribute to a package that is difficult to read and not pleasing for the consumer to look at.
The Barcode is Blurry
According to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), every product needs a barcode. It’s also what makes it possible for a consumer to purchase your product, which we all want. But, if you have the barcode incorrectly formatted, it will be too blurry for use. Ensure you submit a high-resolution barcode image that is in a vector file format. Your barcode also should be 100% black, not navy or other dark colors.
Let’s review the key things to remember as you start the pre-press process:
- Send in your design file in CMYK.
- Only send in high-resolution images – 300 DPI or higher.
- Know your package size and be sure the file correctly displays that size.
- Be sure all text will print legibly.
- Send in a vector image of your barcode and make sure it is black.
Find a Flexible Packaging Company to Work With You
Ensuring your design and digital files are print-ready is key to getting your design printed, filled, and on the shelf. At ePac, we pride ourselves on being your partner every step of the way. If you have questions about the printing process or want to learn more about working with ePac, give us a call or contact us today.