Certified Proofing Systems
Off Press Proofing System Certification
In 1999, SWOP introduced a certification procedure and accompanying Certification Mark for off-press proofing systems. Systems certified under that program are listed on this website as legacy and current SWOP Certified Systems. In 2005, SWOP celebrated its 30 year anniversary. Over the years, SWOP has been a major factor in the success of the Publication Printing Industry in the United States . This has been a result of a combination of attainable goals, dedicated people driving the process and an industry that is willing to improve itself. The SWOP Specifications are for the use of all those involved in the production of publications - including the advertiser, publisher, printer, advertising agency and prepress service supplier.
While SWOP proofing remains a gold standard in our industry, new digital workflows and recent advances in printing and proofing technologies require a radical update in the SWOP Specifications. The vast majority of those producing proofs today do so using brighter, non-SWOP paper stocks. And the industry now demands tighter tolerances and greater assurance of a close visual match from proof to printed publication. SWOP, working within the technical infrastructure of its parent, IDEAlliance, has responded to this challenge.
When SWOP merged with IDEAlliance in 2005, plans were set to aggressively modernize the SWOP specifications to meet new demands of the industry for improving proofing quality and the proof to press match. By 2006, SWOP approved a second proofing stock, the #3 stock typified by Fortune Gloss. In addition the committee ratified the use of the IDEAlliance G7™ Proof-to-Press Process for calibrating both proofing systems and presses to facilitate a close visual match between the two. In the summer of 2006, the IDEAlliance Print Properties Working Group conducted a series of web press runs, on behalf of SWOP, using G7 techniques to develop a realistic characterization of publication printing. The new characterization datasets that were developed as a result of these web press runs were recently balloted as ANSI/CGATS TR003 and TR005. These datasets, along with a new dataset for the GRACoL #1 sheet for commercial publishing now known as TR006, were used as the basis for launching a new “to the numbers” proofing systems certification program.
Prior to this, the SWOP Certification program combined a numeric evaluation of proofs produced on a sheetfed offset press based on target TVI values along with a human evaluation of visual similarity of candidate proofs to the reference offset proof. The new hard copy proofing certification program no longer relied on visual evaluation. Instead proofs are now measured and judged “to the numbers” of the characterization datasets developed from press runs. The new program was launched in the fall of 2006 and today over 60 hard copy systems have been certified to the tight tolerance of an average 1.5 dE.
The next challenge for SWOP was to address the industry shift to virtual proofing workflows. In April 2008, SWOP announced the first monitor proofing systems to be certified under their new "to the Numbers" program. The challenges of developing a “to the numbers” program for monitor proofing systems were huge. The ISO 12646 Specification for monitor evaluation was used as a basis for the program. Procedures were intentionally designed to be close to the procedures for hard copy proofing system certification where ever technically possible. Between December 2007 and March 2008, 30 monitor proofing systems underwent the new certification procedures.