The conventional pre-press process consists of three steps — producing the negatives, creating proofs, and finally making the printing plates. The proof is a sample, made from film, of how the printed piece will appear once it is printed and is used to determine if all the elements fit and colors are correct. After all the artwork and/or color corrections have been made and the customer has approved the final set of proofs, the negatives are produced. The image is then transferred onto the printing plate. A separate printing plate must be made for each process color used in the job. If a change must be made to the artwork after the proof has been made, the technician must repeat all of these steps.
Digital pre-press computerizes much of the plate-making process and can make plates directly from the digital art file with a laser. The process is much faster than conventional pre-press and is gaining use in the industry. Your particular label may be best served by either conventional or digital processes, depending on specifics that your rep can assist you with.