Printing and Purchasing

Posts tagged ‘Quality’

Distractions

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

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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.

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:

CVS1 CVS2

  • 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.

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