Printing and Purchasing

Posts tagged ‘Print Buyers’


Distractions in design come in many forms. One form can be the quality or lack thereof in the printing process. The following photo illustrates one form of distraction because the page crossover doesn’t align. This can be caused from design files that are not properly prepared, layout, trimming, or folding. See the following example.

Cross overs

Print Quality

Do print buyers care about print quality? As I look at printing in the marketplace it gets me wondering if print buyers care about quality. I am not talking about the minor variations found in the normal production tolerances of equipment, but excessive variations as the following images show.

These two photos illustrate extreme variation or poor printing. These brochures came from one CVS store display rack. The main issues were folding, color, and cracking. The sources of these issues are:


  • Cracking can be caused by not scoring the substrate and laying the brochure on the form with the folds going against the grain of the substrate.
  • Folding issues can be caused by many problems such as: Out of register backups, substrate bouncing during the press run, poor trimming, and folder not setup properly.
  • Color inconstancy can be caused by fluctuating ink densities, water and ink imbalance, press not calibrated. To minimize color variation some printers print a PMS ink instead of process builds, however the gray appears to be a PMS and it was inconsistent too. This press appears to be out of control.

There are three key results purchasing looks for, Price, Delivery and Quality. Quality printers will deliver on time and provide competitive pricing because they have minimized waste caused by poor quality. Hopefully this buyer received a great price because this wasn’t a quality printing project.

Is your printing inconsistent? Share your story.

Cutting a New Store Sign

Cumberland Farms pole sign trimmed on a I-Cut machine.

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

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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