How To Identify A Bad Print Job

How To Identify A Bad Print Job

Let’s start off this topic by defining the word “bad” as it relates to print jobs. There are two types of bad print jobs:

  1. Ones with minor imperfections that fall within tolerance

  2. Ones so flawed that they must be scrapped and redone

Minor imperfections can occur within any job. For example, foil stampings that are not as crisp, coating not as glossy, or the color not as bright as expected. Often, minor problems are a matter of expectation, not tolerance. The important thing to determine is whether these flaws fall within an agreed upon range of tolerance.

Tolerance refers to the degree of variation between a proof and its final product. Often tolerance is expressed as a percentage. For example, there might be a .05% color tolerance for run of brochures, meaning the color may not vary from the proofs by more than .05%. Tolerances are typically measured digitally. Computers - or to be precise, densitometers - are much better at detecting variability than the human eye. In fact, most people cannot tell when a job exceeds tolerance. However, printers, print buyers, and brand managers can, and they understand how important it is to ensure color accuracy and other factors are as close to perfect as possible. Companies’ branding must be consistent and recognizable, whether in Maine or Arizona.

There are tolerances for every aspect of printing, including folding, paper thickness, color, and others. Minor issues that fall within tolerance often cannot be improved. Luckily, most consumers will not be able to identify a flaw that falls within tolerance, even if you pointed it out to them.

What makes for a seriously bad print job? Common mistakes include:

  • Color not matching proofs or signed press check sheets

  • Missing content or pages

  • Missed deadlines

  • Budget overruns

  • Materials being delivered to the wrong address

  • Gutter jumps not matching

  • Cracking spine

  • Ghosting

  • Offsetting

  • Staples not holding

  • Curling paper

  • Ink not drying and smearing… the list can go on.

These mistakes typically mean the job has to be redone. Fortunately, all of these mistakes are the printer’s responsibility. They should cover the direct cost of rerunning the job. Unfortunately, a bad print job can still incur major indirect costs for you, including delays, added costs, unsold inventory, stress, and frustration.

What’s the best way to avoid a bad print job? The key is to choose a printing company with an established reputation for quality. Often, older printers have survived as long as they have because of their commitment to quality. Once a printer sacrifices quality for margin, it begins to lose its reputation and then its business. Seasoned companies know printing’s failure points, and they have systems in place to prevent mistakes from occurring. Additionally, the experience and talent of their employees minimize the possibility of something bad happening to a job.

Have a bad print job? It might be time to hire a better printing company. Contact me, and let’s discuss how I can help.

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