Printing and Purchasing

Posts tagged ‘Designers’

Quality in Printing

Some people state we all want quality, but is that statement really accurate? How does an individual determine what is quality? If there isn’t a standard or set of project specifications can there be quality? Wikipedia states “Quality assurance, methodology of assuring conformance to specifications”. When one printed sheet or brochure is viewed by itself, it may be visually and mechanically acceptable but we can’t call it a quality printing project. To determine if a printed piece is quality we must view several printed pieces together to see how they compare to each other and to the standard or specifications [proof or original art].

As I review printing in my travels I am not seeing many quality printing projects. I don’t need the standard or proof for comparison either because I view several brochures together and they do not conform to each other. (read my blog “Print Quality”) If I am viewing non-conforming printing in the marketplace, why are print buyers accepting these projects? Why are so many in the printing industry producing non-conforming work? Is the answer because they don’t know what quality printing is? Or is it because they do not know how to produce quality?

I believe part of the reason for non-conforming printing is because some, not all, do not know the fundamentals of printing, because they were never taught. For a student to learn the fundamentals of printing, the teacher or mentor must be knowledgeable and experienced in the trade. Read our previous blog about the importance of the Job Bag a key fundamental in the trade. Individuals will practice what they have been taught, and when they have been taught the fundamentals, quality will improve.

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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When should Print Buyers Require Physical Proofs?

In today’s economic environment, buyers and printers are looking for ways to reduce costs.  Physical [hard or traditional] proofs such as; Kodak, Matchprint, Epson and Sherpa, add cost to the printing project.  Physical proofs are a direct-overhead cost.  The smaller the print quantity the greater percentage proofs are to the total project cost.  

Today many buyers accept digital proofs from printers such as Portable Document Format (PDF).  PDF proofs can be sent anywhere in the world via the internet and are inexpensive to create and deliver.  When print projects are short run [small quantities], pleasing color, digital, and require minor finishing, a PDF proof can be a good proofing option.  As the complexity of the printing project increases, the greater consideration should be taken for requiring physical proofs.

Physical proofs add costs to the project, but they also provide value to the buyer.  The traditional proof delivers an inexpensive likeness or mockup of the printed piece without the expense of plates and machine make readies.  Proofs, such as a Sherpa, can be cut, folded, punched, drilled, stitched, collated, etc.  These finished proofs allow the printer and buyer to review margins, back-up, crossovers, alignments, collation, etc. to confirm that the printed piece will represent what the designer or customer intended.

The print buyer should require physical proofs on the following projects:

  1. Saddle-stitched catalog with folio, type or art close to the face trim.
  2. Printing where the design has cross-overs or art which needs to matchups after finishing.
  3. Critical color.
  4. Complicated finishing.
  5. Large print runs.
  6. A project with large dollar value.

Note this is not exhaustive list.

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

Thank you for your time.

Knowledge itself is power

Francis Beacon said “Knowledge itself is power.” [] The intent of this blog is to be a resource of knowledge for buyers, designers, procurement professionals or anyone who may have questions concerning the procurement of printing.

When buyers have knowledge about the product they are purchasing, they will be able to purchase the best product at the lowest total cost. The lowest total cost may not be the lowest price, but when all the key procurement factors, such as delivery turn-a-round time, quality and price, are evaluated it is the lowest cost. The lowest price printer may have the worst quality and delivery turn-a-round times, where as the highest price printer might only have the fasted delivery time but lack the best quality.

Over the years I have held many different positions in printing and procurement. If I don’t know the answer to your questions I have associates who will. However for this to be a useful blog, I need your assistance. You can assist by e-mailing your questions, sending PDF’s of printing issues or comments to

Thank you for your time.

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