The rise of digital printing solutions in the last couple decades has significantly changed the way businesses and organizations address their needs in terms of marketing materials, internal documents and other commercial print products. Like most companies, yours is probably hoping to get the most value possible out of its commercial digital printing relationships. To accomplish that, however, it's important to understand how to integrate it into your own business processes.
Digital Files Are Critical
When dealing with commercial digital printing providers, the computer files they produce and the ones you hand to them are an essential part of the process. Most companies utilize some version of the Adobe software suite to prep their files, and it's a good idea to have at least one copy of Photoshop installed on your systems so you can look directly at work files as they're shipped back and forth between you and your printer. If you don't have someone on staff who's familiar with using these types of digital files, hire one. You'll never regret being able to open, modify, save and send them in a matter of minutes rather than struggling to deal with printed proofs.
Familiarize Yourself with the CMYK Process
CMYK is a commonly used term in the digital printing world, and it stands for "cyan," magenta," "yellow and "black." Using these four types of inks, you can generate a number of professional-looking printed products. Your computer monitor usually employs the RGB process (red, blue and green), and you'll still need RGB versions of products for use on televisions and the web. There will be slight differences in appearances between CMYK and RGB files, but just ask your printer to clear up any concerns you might have by showing you some output.
Proofs Matter a Lot
One of the main reason that getting occasional proofs your printer still matters in the digital age is that calibrating things like paper printers and vinyl cutters is rarely an exact science. They require diligence on the part of the digital printing company you're working with, as changes in accuracy and color levels can throw an image off very quickly.
As a project moves forward, you should periodically ask for proofs just to ensure that the appearance of the final product is headed in the right direction. If you live close to your printer, send an employee to pick up proofs to save time.