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Possible problems when sending a PDF to print

FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
I was asked to create a poster for an exhibit at my work. Not my expertise when it comes to how to properly format a high-res poster for print, but I've done several in the past at my job and we never had an issue with the printer.

This time, when we sent over the PDF (16"x22") to the printer, they made a comment that it looks like we're not using professional design services and they would be happy to provide their services next time. Well, they're right, but that's because there's no budget to contract something like this out. In any event, whatever.

When the print job came back, there were two distinct diagonal black lines through the poster. Maybe 1/5th inch in thickness. We assumed it was a printer error so contacted them, this was their response:
We performed a flight check on the file and the line that you see printed is within the design of the file.
This is what is called a transparency issue. It appears that the file was not flattened before submitting, this could be
the issue in why the error occurred. The file would have to be corrected if we are to reprint and unfortunately a
reprint charge would apply.

Let me know if you have any further questions regarding this.

Part of me thinks they either didn't bother doing a very basic check of the file or are denying a printer error in the effort to stress that we should use their design services next time. Obviously I'm not catching any heat for this error, even if it was 100% my fault, because my bosses realize this isn't something I was ever professionally trained for.

But it is my understanding that any transparency issues would follow the shapes affected. There are no diagonal shapes, frames, etc. in this design. The lines go through the centre of the poster and do not follow any of the objects in any way.

When I saved the file from InDesign, I just used File>Export>High Quality Print, turned off the Tagging feature, and added crop marks. Is the misprint likely my doing or should I be recommending we find a new printer? My gut tells me that even if this is something I messed up while exporting, any decent printer would have said, "Hey, this needs to be changed before we print."

XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment · Website : www.nathanswyers.com

Posts

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Failing to flatten files exported as PDF from something like InDesign when transparency involved can indeed lead to weird stuff - do you have the file, or a picture of the error in question, or both?

    bowen
  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    Failing to flatten files exported as PDF from something like InDesign when transparency involved can indeed lead to weird stuff - do you have the file, or a picture of the error in question, or both?

    Thanks, @TychoCelchuuu‌

    I've put a photo of the error and the PDF we sent to the printer in a dropbox folder: https://db.tt/EGFHTD3o

    Now that I look at it again, it's not as thick of a line as I was remembering. Still, it's diagonal.

    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment · Website : www.nathanswyers.com
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    What about the file? That looks like a really strange place for a line.

    Ladies.
  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    bowen wrote: »
    What about the file? That looks like a really strange place for a line.

    @bowen

    It's there. Look below the photo and you'll see a link to the PDF.

    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment · Website : www.nathanswyers.com
    bowen
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    My biggest question is why didn't they use their expertise to flatten the PDF before hand if this causes issues? Why was there no QC after a print to verify it was correct before just hand waiving it as the customer's problem?

    Your PDF looks fine to me, I ran it through some of my programmer tools like image magick and a few of my custom tools for handling tiff/pdf on my end.

    Maybe their specific printer models is finicky, I don't know, but I can't see anything glaring (though I can't see layers in my tools).

    Sounds like a bunch of bullshit to me. Sounds like your boss needs to get his budget expanded too.

    Ladies.
  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited February 2014
    bowen wrote: »
    Sounds like a bunch of bullshit to me. Sounds like your boss needs to get his budget expanded too.

    We actually have a posting out now for a graphic designer, so that will be good.

    bowen wrote: »
    Maybe their specific printer models is finicky, I don't know, but I can't see anything glaring (though I can't see layers in my tools).

    Right, in which case the printer should be sending specific specs if the files they require are that precise, no? I've had things printed there before, too, and never had a problem.

    So how do I go about ensuring a PDF is flattened when exporting from InDesign (I'm using 5.5 at work). Just choose X-1a instead of "High Quality Print"?

    Figgy on
    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment · Website : www.nathanswyers.com
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Figgy wrote: »
    When I saved the file from InDesign, I just used File>Export>High Quality Print, turned off the Tagging feature, and added crop marks. Is the misprint likely my doing or should I be recommending we find a new printer? My gut tells me that even if this is something I messed up while exporting, any decent printer would have said, "Hey, this needs to be changed before we print."

    It sounds like it's unlikely on you since you don't have diagonal lines in any of the layers and I very much feel like a printer who doesn't ask about this sort of thing after they run a sheet is a pretty horrible printer and I'd go looking somewhere else.

    The response is vaguely accusatory while trying to upsell, that would annoy me. I would go find another printer, ask them to print this and if they don't come back with that line I would start making refusing payment sounds towards the first printer. They'd probably end up paid but not in a way that didn't make sure everybody there knows that person lost the account.

    bowen
  • DerrickDerrick Registered User regular
    edited February 2014
    Hey Figgy. I'm a graphic designer and I work in a sign shop currently, so I do things like this every day.

    Transparencies do weird things sometimes. This is true. And that's pretty much what happened here. The diagonal line looks like it follows the diagonal gradient where it fades to blue.

    Here's the thing about using large scale printers- they don't use pdf files. We have special programs for this, and they're called a RIP (Raster Image Processor) that converts the files to raster images. What likely happened is that their RIP didn't treat the transparency properly (fairly common), and they didn't quality check it.

    So yeah, if you gave them that pdf and they came up with that, it's a QA problem on their end. You can certainly help yourself in the future by flattening any images you send to be printed, but I wouldn't let that print leave my shop.

    So far as if you should find a new printer- ask them some basic questions. Ask them if they are printing the raw .pdf or if they are using a RIP. Ask them if they have photoshop/illustrator available. If they say no to the RIP and no to PS/ILLS then you're probably better off finding a better printer.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Derrick on
    Steam and CFN: Enexemander
    WassermelonebowenDaenriswrong_button
  • GaslightGaslight Registered User regular
    I can't claim any expertise in this area but based on my first impression of your OP, @Figgy, and now reinforced by the others who've weighed in here, it sounds to me like your printer is shitty/lazy and are now trying to wring some more money out of you to fix a problem they should have caught and corrected or at least warned you about beforehand if they were worth their salt.

    bowen wrote: »
    The bacteria in your poop exist everywhere.
    bowen
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