Printing and Purchasing

Archive for the ‘Print Procurement’ Category


Pastry Magnets printing on a Vutek Wide Format Press

Roll to roll inkjet printing on magnet material, solvent to UV, wide format. Printing six images [individual magnets] across the roll of substrate.

Now that you have seen how the magnet is printed, come in and try Cumberland Farms fall special Pumpkin Yogurt Muffin. Click the following link to find a store near you.

How to Ensure all Printers Print your Color Consistently!

When multiple printers are required to produce your printing, are they all producing the same look or color? If your corporate color isn’t consistent, consider the following;

  • Content/Asset library: Maintain a single source library where all images are stored. These images have the latest corrections. This is critical since many times the client uses an image and during the proofing process requests corrections. The master content library should be updated with the corrected image, when approved.
  • Profile press: Confirm that each printer periodically is verifying/adjusting their proofs to represent what each press will reproduce.
  • Color Proofs: Review hard proofs in a viewing booth with original art. Only review soft proofs on a calibrated [daily] monitor. Before utilizing soft proofs, have each printer verify their profiled presses/hard proofs are verified on the customers soft proof monitor. When viewing soft proofs use original art when available. Concerns using soft proofs include; how will spot varnishes, coatings or other finishing operations be confirmed that they align and trap properly? How will intricate folds be verified and confirm that images align when there are no hard proofs?
  • Viewing Booth: If color is critical, confirm that the viewing booth is correct and lighting is calibrated and at the correct temperature. [It takes 10 to 20 minutes for 5000k lamps to achieve correct temperature]
  • Printers Bars: Request six [6] consecutive full press sheets from each press sign off. Confirm that the press is not slurring, doubling, and the ink density for each color is correct.
  • Original art: Available as a reference when reviewing proofs or press sheets.
  • PMS Books: Confirm age of PMS book. The older and the more a PMS book is utilized the less accurate it becomes because light will denigrate the ink/colors. The other problem with PMS books is they are manufactured and with any process there can be variation between books. If certain PMS colors are important it is best to provide ink drawdowns.
  • Ink Drawdowns: Corporate colors are associated to a PMS color, however many times when ink drawdowns are provided via the printer they need to be adjusted to match the clients color and labeled accordingly, e.g. PMS 123 ABC. To ensure all printers start with the same color, send ink drawdowns, along with wet ink samples, for the substrate being printed.
  • Stock: Have all printers printing on the same substrate. The color of the substrate can change the color being reproduced.
  • Process Builds of PMS: Consistently use the same process builds, since one project may be built using several software programs and each may build PMS colors out of process differently. Your company may also want to adjust the standard tint build to improve the color reproduction.
  • Wet Samples: When ink drawdowns are approved a small container of the ink used for the drawdown is filed for future use. Wet samples don’t deteriorate as quickly as ink drawdowns or PMS books.

If I can assist with any questions, an audit or consulting project, in regards to printing or purchasing, please contact me via e-mail at

How do You See Color?

Color is everywhere we look today. Whether you are watching television, on your computer, you are outside, or reading printing, color is everywhere. Those in the printing industry know the importance of good color reproduction and the obstacles or limitations faced in that reproduction and the viewing of that reproduction.

“Color or colour (see spelling differences) is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, blue, yellow, green and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light (distribution of light power versus wavelength) interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors. Color categories and physical specifications of color are also associated with objects, materials, light sources, etc., based on their physical properties such as light absorption, reflection, or emission spectra. By defining a color space, colors can be identified numerically by their coordinates.”

Some of the obstacles or limitations faced in color reproduction or viewing are:

– Physical limitations

  • Color Blindness
    • Deuteranopia
    • Protanopia
    • Tritanopia

–  Lighting

  • Stray light
  • Glare
  • Light reflections
  • Ambient Light
  • Fluctuation in room Lighting
  • Color temperature

– Equipment or process capabilities

  • LED, LCD
    • Brightness
    • Contrast
    • Color temperature
    • Lithography, digital printers, etc.
      • Pigments

–  Substrates

  • Color
  • Surface

If there are color issues, hopefully the physical limitations of those reviewing color have been tested and reviewed. The following web links illustrate what color-challenged individuals see.


Have you taken a color test? Try one or all of the following tests to see if there are any challenges you have seeing color.


The Ishihara Color Test for Color Blindness


FM100 Hue Test by X-Rite [Farnsworth Munsell]


Color Arrangement Test

The Daltonien Test

Is Your Sales Representative a Solution or a Problem?

Sales representatives have a tough job especially in the printing industry. Traditional printing is shrinking for many reasons: the economy, reduced government requirements, the internet, digital and in-office print devices to name a few. Even though there are fewer printers today than before the last economic down turn, there is still plenty of print competition. For sales representative to differentiate from the competition be a solution to the procurement.

What a SOLUTION sales representative should do;

  • ListensBuyers know their company and its needs and should listen to what they say in order to see how their company can fill that need.
  • AnswersAnswer the questions you are asked. The buyer needs to verify that your company can provide the services you would be quoting.
  • Asks – Develop insightful questions for the buyer to order gain better insight in how their company can be a solution.
  • Provides Furnish what has been requested.
  • Is conscientious – Take care of all aspects of a project.
  • Shares – Knowledge and other sources the buyer could use.
  • Has integrity – When a commitment has been made, follow through with it.
  • Serves – Has a support team that works well together, pleasant, comprehensive, knowable, and timely.

What a PROBLEM sales representative will do;

  • Argumentative They try to tell the buyer what they need instead of providing solutions.
  • Doesn’t follow through Sales representatives give unfulfilled commitments.
  • Stalks After receiving a negative answer the Sales representative will keep calling, e-mailing, or mailing too frequently.
  • Circumvents Calling others in the company instead of working with through purchasing.
  • Changes the agreed upon pricing behind the buyer’s back If there are problems, they don’t tell the buyer.
  • ChargesAdd, or inflate charges which nickel and dime clients.
  • Is dishonest Make statements which are not true, such as “I’m about done with pricing” or “I have submitted pricing” when it hasn’t been.
  • Negative – A frequently used word.
  • Doesn’t share Won’t give information requested by buyer.
  • Only “ME” StatementsYou can only get the product from me.
  • Lacks respectWalks into buyer’s office without calling and asking first.
  • Divides and conquersAfter bid has been awarded, shares lower pricing with other stakeholders.
  • Lacks integrityRequests to be included in Request for Proposal [RFP], and commits to participating through the first round of evaluation, and doesn’t.

Are your sales representatives a solution or a problem?

May I assist with any procurement or printing questions? I may be reached at

A White Washed Print Shop

Have you been somewhere and the print shop was neat but something was missing? I have. I need to take you back to a previous visit of that print shop. During this visit the shop floor was a mess and un-kept. Rags were lying around instead of put away neatly. The folder was used as a shelf instead of folding printing. A glue brush, still with glue, lay on a bunched up rag on a table. A mobile rack had rags in numerous areas, as well as an inked plate, and a kinked plate lying on another shelf.

Would you give printing to a print shop like that? You would be probably thinking, “will they be able to produce my job correctly, or will it be a mess like their shop?” I mentioned to key individuals associated with the print shop, how messy the shop floor was, along with other matters of concern. Fast forward in time to a meeting which a senior manager, from the messy shop, and I attended. We talked for a few minutes and the shops appearance came up in the discussion. The senior manager enthusiastically mentioned how the shop had been transformed and offered a tour.

I took the manager’s offer to tour the print shop. During the tour I could see that the shop looked much neater, however it was more of a white wash. A white wash per TheFreeDictionary is:” Concealment or palliation of flaws or failures.” The following are the reasons for my statement:
1. Warehouse
o No list of materials
o No location identifiers such as isles, shelving etc.

2. Press Room
o Crinkled plate was lying on a shelf
o Stacks of a previously completed job not thrown out
o Used ink knife was lying around, un-cleaned
o Rags were laying around

Do you believe I am being too harsh? Please tell me what your opinion is. Would you send your work there? Hopefully the manager has taken my comments and is the process of improving their facility. I look forward to seeing the improved transformation.

Do you have Passion?

Do you have passion? No, I am not talking about romance, but are you motivated or get excited by what you do? Is there a spring in your step when you finish a project successfully? Do your eyes light up when you talk about what you do or do you talk in a mono tone voice putting everyone asleep? Are you enthused to learn new and better ways to perform your job; or do you make excuses when explaining why improvement takes so much time?

The Free Dictionary defines passion as “Boundless enthusiasm” and “The object of such enthusiasm”. I had a meeting the other day, with a mid-level manager, who is responsible for printing. The meeting, at times, was awkward. The manager presented ideas, that in his/her opinion might possibly be potential ways might help the printing department. There was no firm commitment or direction in the manager’s voice; no excitement, motivation, or commitment in the presentation. Maybe the manager wanted me to tell him how he should run his department because trying to grasp a firm direction was like trying to catch a greased pig in a large pen. I noticed, however, that this tone changed when I asked the manager to share with me about his/her background. The manager’s tone changed as they shared his/her education and previous work experience in printing, giving a greater excitement in his/her speech.

spot lightTo tell you the truth, a spot light turned on! Normally you see an image with a small light ideabulb showing the person had an AH HA moment! This pin pointed the key problem. To share more of the background, when I had talked with the CEO, there was an attitude of improvement and change. However, when I spoke to the workers there was a lack of dedication, and motivation for improvement change to name just two. In fact, when I talked and saw the results of the front line workers the first time it was infuriating. This organization has a huge dis-connect between the top management and the workers; however, taking the time to meet with the mid-level manager, it became clear. The mid-level manager had no passion, no love for what the organization produced and it transferred down to the workers under his/her leadership.

The CEO wanted to produce the best product; not the result ending in an inferior sub-standard product. CEO’s must have managers who have the same vision and passion for the organization to succeed. All the improvements and efforts to change the workers will be for not if the mid-level manager doesn’t care, neither will the workers.

One of my managers was James Gleason, who is a great example of what a mid-level manager should be. Jim had just been put in charge of Creative Services which was made up of procurement, print shop, designers, and account executives. He was a mid-level manager at The Phoenix insurance company. His background was that of a former Marine tank commander. Jim didn’t have a printing background, but he had passion, which resulted in a desire to learn about his new department and what it produced. Jim’s passion resulted in continuous improvement as well as greater responsibility.

Do you have passion?

Finishing your Map

This is a re-blog with a recommendation to ask your printer to provide a layout grid [illustrator document, for example] noting, trim size, fold positions, bleeds, panel identification for backup, to build your document too.


Determining how the map folds, panel sizes, and placement of cover panels should be an integral part of planning the map.  The objective is to develop a folding sequence that provides the greatest ease of use for the person trying to read it.  The exception to this is where advertising is paramount.  In these cases, the user is made to go past all the ads before they can get to the map.  If the image goes right to the edge of the sheet this “bleed edge” should extend 1/8” beyond the trim to allow for variation in cutting.  Panels/images that fold out, should wrap around the fold edge 1/16” to accommodate variation in folding.  If you’re printing on plastic, where the variation increases, you might consider 3/32” for a wrap.

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Should a Printer Receive Source Files?

One of the Linked In groups “Creative Design Pros” had a discussion topic called, “Original Files – to send or not to send?” Source files or Original files are the building blocks of the final design. These source files are the different layers/filters the designer uses to create the design using programs such as Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. Many designers flatten the files, minimizing the file size before sending to the client.

This topic was of particular interest from two different viewpoints, procurement and the printer. To summarize the viewpoints one group of designers believes the client only is paying for final art. They also believe that if the client asks for source or original files they are trying to dump the designer and go to someone cheaper, such as the following quote;

So fine, you want working files at this point you would like to end our working relationship anyway… here is the cost for the working files requested.”

The other view point is to work with the client and give the client what they have paid for, such as the following quote;

“My policy is, once they have paid the contracted/invoiced price set for the project they own the rights and therefore should have the files.”

As a former print production planner I have experienced the extra cost in time, materials, and effort to fix client’s files because they didn’t furnish original or source files. The following are several reasons designers should provide source files.

  1. When clients hire a designer to create/develop design files and flattened files are provided, it’s like purchasing a car without a motor.
  2. From concept to completed files, information within the document may need to be changed. When copy is part of photos and the files are flattened, the job will be delayed waiting for the source files [which will increase the cost of the job to prepare new files] or added costs for the printer to perform magic on your files.
  3. Many times designers haven’t properly prepared the furnished files for printing. Some of the issues are:
    1. Bleeds within the document weren’t ideal or non-existent
    2. Images that were not trapping properly
    3. Copy to close to the trim
    4. Page or panel sizes not built to the correct size
    5. Type alignment issues
    6. Glue tabs or pocket folders not built properly
    7. Shadows built in four color instead of black
    8. Low resolution images
    9. Imbedded fonts
    10. Files were not built consistently
    11. Color-corrected images needing to replace print file image

These are a several examples why the printer needs source files.

As procurement professionals, our job is to purchase the best product/job at the lowest total cost for our client. Knowing that no one is perfect, and some designers don’t know how to properly build press ready files, for purchasing not to request source files would be doing the client/company a disservice.

If you are in procurement or marketing and need print files, always ask your designer to provide source files, proof [phaser], folding dummy and a final PDF. The source files allow the printer to make changes or corrections easily. The proof provides a physical view. The folding dummy confirms what pages back each other up, and how the piece folds. The final PDF will illustrate how the source files will print and easy to electronically send to the printer. Problems happen in printing, such as type breaking differently from the designer because the printer may be using a different version of software for example. Before securing a designer, read the designer’s contract and ask for modifications as needed.

Printing: Paying the Right Price

When a customer’s order is complete, will they have paid the correct price?

In traditional printing, there are numerous variables that affect costs – these variables are driven by customer requirements, such as: quantity, number of colors, coating types, and finishing operations, to name a few.  In digital printing, however, there are fewer variables that affect cost.  It can be said that each variable produces waste and the printer estimates the price based on historical averaging of these known variables.

Conventionally[i], the delivered quantity of an order has been +/- 10 % of the quantity ordered, – for either traditional or digital printing.  Furthermore, the delivered quantity will most likely be different than what was ordered.

How will the customer evaluate the invoice during the auditing phase so to determine the proper price from the ordered quantity versus the delivered and the estimated price versus the invoice? The answer to this query lies in the billing technique used by the sales representative.  The easiest technique to use and comprehend is the “Thousand-Rate Price” [TRP]; however, it is generally inaccurate, because the customer has already paid for the fixed cost, as the following example demonstrates.

                          Quote                          Quote

Item                  Quantity A                    Quantity B

Quantity            90,000                         100,000

Pricing              $29,000                        $30,000

TRP                  $322.22                        $300.00

The “thousand-rate” price [TRP] is defined as: the estimated price [$30,000] divided by the order quantity [100,000].

Another technique is Additional-Thousand Pricing [ATP], which should be lower than the Thousand-Rate Price [TRP], because all the Fixed Costs [FC] have been covered in the base quantity [100,000] estimated price.

Fixed Costs [FC] are defined as: costs that remain constant, regardless of any change in a company’s activity[ii]. They include such items as: pre-press, plates, equipment and material make-readies, dies, etc.

Pre-Press                    $15,000

Plates                              1,000

MR Press & Bindery        2,500

Dies                                    500

MR Materials                   1,000

FC                                $20,000

The “Additional-Thousand” Price [ATP] is defined as: the estimated price less fixed costs divided by the order quantity or the variable cost to produce one-thousand pieces. The additional-thousand pricing can be sub-divided into two categories: arbitrary discount [ADATP] and variable cost pricing [VCATP].

Variable Costs [VC] are defined as: costs that change in proportion to a change in a company’s activity [quantity] or business[iii] and include such items as: non-make-ready materials; paper, ink, and non-make-ready equipment or production run costs.

The Arbitrary Discount Additional-Thousand Price [ADATP] is defined as: a discount percentage the sales representative has developed based on their intuition over the years such as discounting the Thousand-Rate Price by 30%. This discounted rate may or may not be a fair price, i.e. $300 x 70% = $210

                          Quote               Quote

Item                   Quantity A        Quantity B

Quantity             90,000             100,000  

Pricing             $29,000             $30,000

TRP                 $322.22             $300.00

ADATP             $225.55             $210.00

The Variable Cost Additional-Thousand Pricing [VCATP] is defined as: the Thousand-Rate Price with all Fixed Costs subtracted: TRP – FC = ADATP.

For illustration purposes, assume that Quote Quantity B is the ordered quantity, and the printer delivered a quantity of 102,000 giving the customer a 2% over run. Two percent over run is well within printing guidelines.

When evaluating the invoice the customer may use extrapolation or interpolation when there is a minimum of two different quantities per illustration.  For reliability when using interpolation or extrapolation, the estimated quantities should be within a reasonable quantity range of the billing quantity. When quantities are drastically different from the estimated quantities however, other factors within print production or estimating may influence the accuracy such as: plate ware, additional make-readies, price discounts on materials, arbitrary printer charges, etc.

Extrapolation would be used to audit the invoice pricing for the illustration above. The illustration below provides how the VCATP is determined.

                         Quote               Quote

Item                  Quantity A        Quantity B      VCATP

Quantity            90,000     –       100,000   =     10,000 quantity difference

Pricing             $29,000    –       $30,000   =      $1,000 pricing difference

TRP                 $322.22            $300.00           $1000/10,000=$0.10 each or $100/M

ADATP             $225.55            $210.00

Extrapolation is defined as:  the process of constructing new data points outside a discreet set of known data points.[iv]

Interpolation is defined as: constructing new data points between known data points.[v]

The following are three pricing examples based on the illustration:

TTP: 2 x $300=600 + 30,000 [Order Price] = $30,600

ADATP:  2 x $210=420 + 30,000 [Order Price] = $30,420

VCATP:  2 x $100=200 + 30,000 [Order Price] = $30,200

Alternatively the example showed a delivered quantity of 98,000, then $200 would be deducted from the 100,000 price of $30,000 = $29,800.

To sum up the arguments, VCARP is clearly the fair price for both parties, and additionally for the customer it is the best price, for most occasions.

The following are important keys to insure the printing is priced fairly:

  • When requesting pricing, always request a minimum of two quantities.
  • Use extrapolation or interpolation to verify pricing.


Your comments and your print-procurement questions are appreciated concerning this article and other related matters.

[i] “11. OVER-RUNS AND UNDER-RUNS. Over-runs or under-runs not to exceed 10% on quantities ordered, or the percentage agreed upon, shall constitute acceptable delivery. Printer will bill for actual quantity delivered within this tolerance. If customer requires guaranteed exact quantities, the percentage tolerance must be doubled.”[ ]


[iv] []

[v]  Ibid.

Why Companies should update their Client Addresses after Mailings.

Last week at the Post Office, a customer was picking up a package.  The customer’s comments to the Post Office Representative, illustrated bewilderment as to why the vendor had delivered their order/package to the wrong address since the vendor’s monthly mailings were delivered to their home.

Assuming the vendor is using the same address file to ship the product as to send monthly mailings, there are several possible reasons the product went to the wrong address. 1] The buyer has not requested the updated NCOA information from the mailer, 2] the buyer isn’t forwarding the updated NCOA information, or 3] the updated information isn’t being applied to their client database.

When preparing an address list for mailing, mailers compare the address file to the National Change of Address [NCOA][i]. The NCOA file is updated when people or businesses notify the Post Office they are moving by completing a change of address form[ii]. The results of the NCOA comparison is two lists; A] updated addresses and B] addresses with issues, also called bad addresses. The mailer should provide the customer a list of bad addresses along with the code description[iii] explaining why the addresses are bad. It is up to the customer to decide to mail, delete or update the bad addresses. The client can pay the mailer to research the bad address or they can use verification websites like “Search Bug” and “Melissa Data”[iv].

When ordering a mailing, buyers should request the mailer provide them the NOCA corrected addresses file. The corrected and bad address lists should be forwarded to the department responsible for managing client addresses. The customer, in my example, filed a change of address with the Post Office but neglected to provide the same information to the vendor. If customers would request the updated addresses from mailers, and update their client’s addresses, the package would have been delivered to the client current address.

Please e-mail your questions, comments, or send PDF’s of printing and mailing issues to

Thank you for your time.

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