What Are Proofs in Screen Printing?

What Are Proofs in Screen Printing?

All printing providers aim to ensure that the final product meets or even exceeds clients’ expectations. As any seasoned professional may tell you, even the smallest error in the final print can be a cause of disaster. In large-scale orders, which are common to screen printing, this can be detrimental, which is why we consider print proofing to be essential proof. But what are proofs in screen printing, and why are they important for the print to come out exactly as you wish?

This comprehensive guide will delve into the nuances of printing proof in screen printing, examining its role in the final product and explaining its unique advantages. It will also offer a comparison of hard vs soft print proofs and discuss potential costs.

What Are Proofs in Screen Printing?

When explaining what are print proofs to our clients, we like to say that they are samples or prototypes of the final printing product. In the printing industry, proofs are the exact replica and are provided as a representation of the desired outcome. They are the last chance to check for errors in printing prior to the printing material being sent for printing or production.

We create printing proofs and deliver them to our clients for approval. If the client is satisfied, the proof is then sent to printing. By using proofs in screen printing, we ensure that the money and effort the client puts into the printing material is not wasted on a faulty product.

We should note that print proofs are usually created to resemble the same materials and calibrations as in the final product. While some might consider this prototype unnecessary, it’s one of the essentials for successful printing. It’s also worth mentioning that not all printing proofs come as samples, and some may be digital. 

Overall, printing proofs are a measure of caution. This is significant in all types of printing but especially important in large-scale orders. For instance, services such as screen printing are usually reserved for bulk orders. In such scenarios, printing proof is vital, as it may help both us and the client avoid a costly mistake or dissatisfaction.

What Are Proofs in Screen Printing?
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: photo_gonzo

Why are proofs important?

For us, printing proofs is an effective way to check client expectations and ensure we are on the right track. For clients, they offer an opportunity to see if the end design is as effective as their initial idea. This final product sample also serves as a chance to finalize the design.

Clients may check for potential mistakes and recommend tweaks if necessary. This is why we send printing proof to our customers and encourage them to take their time and examine the print thoroughly. 

Overall, the proof printing process ensures that valuable time and resources are not spent on a faulty screen print. While reprinting on a screen print is possible, it will require extra effort and will likely pose an additional financial burden. 

Trying to offer clients the best screen printing services, we believe that printing proofs can help achieve excellence in every piece we create.

Soft vs hard print proofs 

A soft print proof is a digital file that offers the client a visual display of the final screen print on their monitor. This is usually a PDF file that simulates the final product’s appearance. Soft prints are an excellent way to speed up the printing process as they help the client better understand what the end print will look like.

They are usually sent as sample screen prints. Issuing just a soft print might be enough in simpler projects like business card printing or flier printing.

Hard print proofs are the physical samples that we send to our clients. Hard proofs are preferred in more complicated projects that involve varying ink shades, die cut sections, and anything that requires special review before beginning production. 

Benefits of Proofs in Screen Printing 

To ensure that potential clients gain a deeper understanding of what is print proof, we will look into their advantages. Some advantages might be more obvious than others. For instance, it’s logical that print proofs might improve the end product’s quality. 

However, we will have to dig a little deeper to discover the complete potential of print proofs. Here are some of the biggest advantages of proofs in screen printing: 


While screen-printed samples might initially seem like a costly investment, they can spare a lot of effort and resources going to waste. As those familiar with screen printing will tell you, the setup for this printing process is time-consuming. 

This is one of the reasons why placing a larger screen printing order is preferable. To ensure their efforts are not in vain, many printing manufacturers produce a couple of screen-printed proofs rather than just one. These replicas can ensure the client has enough printed samples to review and a clear chance to verify the printing accuracy. 

Technical considerations

While digital printing proofs might seem unnecessary to some, looking at the image on a different screen can offer a different perspective. Small details may be overlooked when looking at a design on a single monitor, which is why sending digital proof to clients can be valuable.

Digital proofs usually specify aspects such as color, artwork size, and print location. This shows clients exactly how the final screen print will look like when the design is transferred onto the garment. It also gives them a final chance to make adjustments. 

However, print proof in screen printing also stands as a representation of printing quality. It gives clients a chance to evaluate the accuracy in print and the overall appeal. 

Are print proofs free?

Whether or not a print proof is free mainly depends on the type of proof in question. Generally, soft prints are free of charge as they don’t require using any material or setting up production. In contrast, hard print proofs replicating the final product call for more effort.

Manufacturers may put a price on more complex hard proofs that ask for special attention to detail. Still, this may vary based on the manufacturer. It is best to openly discuss the pricing practices beforehand to ensure they fit your needs.

Benefits of Proofs in Screen Printing
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: photo_gonzo


When explaining what are proofs in screen printing, we must emphasize that proof bridges the gap between a concept and its realization. Whether it’s tangible, hard print proof, or a digital example of the final product, print proof allows clients to review what’s to be the final print. 

While primarily, print proofs in screen printing might aim to ensure the final product aligns with the visual expectations of a client, they also serve as an epitome of print quality.