Advantages and Disadvantages of sending a PDF vs Native Files to a Commercial Printer

Most service providers and commercial printers use a PDF workflow. Here’s a look at the advantages and disadvantages of sending a PDF vs Native Files.

The biggest advantage of sending a high resolution print ready pdf file to your commercial printer is that if the pdf is created properly, there is almost nothing that could go wrong getting the file from client to proof. Apart from how the ripping software handles layers and drop shadows, all the text and graphics will remain how they were designed. Text will not reflow because of font issues, images do not have the chance to relink incorrectly and you can see how the file will print by viewing it on your computer.

The main disadvantage of sending only a pdf, is the service provider or printer can not easily make changes or corrections. If changes are needed, you the client will have to make and resend a new pdf file. There are some 3rd party software solutions to this, such as the Pit Stop plugin from Enfocus, or the service provider can take the chance and open the pdf in Illustrator, but that is not a stable solution.

Native Files
Native files include the output file, support files and fonts. Advantages of sending native files are the ability to edit the output file and make corrections or changes. Any color corrections to images are easily made with the jpg or tiff files.

When sending native files, you can run into the problem of the service provider not having the software you are using, or having newer or older software may cause some options used in the design to not be available. There can also be an issue with fonts reflowing or going from Mac to PC could produce unwanted results.

It is always best to be on good relations with your service provider or commercial printer. Visit their shop and ask questions. Before you begin to design your project, discuss how the final piece will look to see if there are any areas that need special attention, like folds, die cuts or indicias. Your service provider is there to walk beside you with your project, making suggestions to help you create an award winning design.

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