Continuous Improvement – Expanded Proof Options for Uncoated Paper Projects

There’s no doubt about it: proofing processes have changed a lot since Lithographics first opened our doors in 1975. When we got our start, the common proofs were Bluelines, Kodak Matchprints, and Dupont Chromalins. Over time, expectations and technology evolved, and we’ve changed along with them every step of the way.


Today, many projects are approved based on soft proofs, which work by simulating how a print project appears on a computer screen. But many projects still require hard high-resolution proofs, which provide a guide for the pressroom team to follow.


Hard proofs are often requested by customers on high-end projects or complex jobs because they provide a more accurate visual verification map for a project. When the stakes are higher, it’s important to have the highest degree of accuracy possible at every step in the process, in order to avoid small mistakes that cost time and money. At Lithographics, all our proofs are calibrated with our presses to G7 standards. G7 methodology is the best way to ensure color consistency from proof to press, and we are proud to be a G7 certified printer, offering consistent color, better control, and less waste.


While our hard proofs are nearly identical to the final product, the process to produce a proof on our Epson proofing equipment is different than printing. During the proofing part of the process, it’s also important to keep in mind that paper can have a significant effect on the look of the final piece.


For example, colors can appear brighter on coated paper because the ink sits on top of the coating. On uncoated paper, ink is absorbed into the fibers of the paper rather than just sitting on top, which can have a softening effect on images and large blocks of color. This is just one of many reasons why choosing a paper type is such a small but important detail when putting together a printing project!


Recently, we are seeing more clients choose uncoated paper for a number of reasons. When environmental concerns are a significant factor, uncoated paper is a popular choice because of its physical makeup. Whereas uncoated paper is, as the name suggests, “plain” paper made from wood fibers, coated paper has a fine coating of white clay particles that fill in the tiny gaps in the sheet’s surface and create a smoother finish.


The clay coating, however, means that coated paper is, by percentage of weight, less wood fiber than uncoated paper. As a result, uncoated paper provides more material for recycling.


Clients are also turning to uncoated paper more often for a very simple reason: there have been significant improvements in uncoated paper and printing processes. In the past, coated paper has been the main choice when color brightness or a smooth texture has been a top priority. With new developments and processes, uncoated paper printing now offers smoother surfaces and better inks for the purpose, which make the final products more appealing and polished.

In today’s market more than ever, there is a growing need for more paper choices. Supply chain issues that began in 2020 have continued to ripple forward – and probably will continue to for a little while longer. Wood pulp itself has gone up in price 50.2% over the past year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the price of paper rose 14.2% in the same period.


As a result, projects may need to be switched from a coated sheet to an uncoated sheet simply for availability reasons. Having flexibility with paper types may also affect the timeliness and costs of printed projects.


Lithographics is always focused on continuous improvement in all areas. Recently, we undertook an initiative to increase the accuracy of our proofing process when customers choose to use uncoated paper. Our expert team worked on calibrating our proofing processes with our presses specifically for uncoated paper. Following these calibrations, we were able to produce hard proofs that reflect what images will look like on uncoated paper.


Many publishing clients print on uncoated paper, which can provide a quality product with a reasonable cost and timeframe. Lithographics has the expertise to support publishers and other enterprises who want to print on uncoated paper and get a great-looking piece.


If you would like to see samples of proofs on uncoated paper, please contact us!