Monday, July 21, 2014

The good, the bad and the printed

Back in 2012 we printed a really smart set of corporate inserts for a very good client (who shall remain nameless). These were produced on a digital press (a Xerox digital press to be precise). At the time the press was around 3 years old and was calibrated to match CMYK as close as possible for its technical spec. The result was a beautiful set of matching brochure inserts. The result: client happy, job done.

Last month, we were asked to provide a reprint of said inserts. We duly received a beautifully printed and commercially acceptable reprint of several thousand inserts. Complete with clean flat greys (the 'holy grail' as far as any digital print is concerned). We were really pleased with the result. Clean, crisp, quality print. As you'd rightly expect.

But there was a problem.

The print did not exactly match the original printed copies.

Now, I know what you are thinking, there is no way to match exactly to a print run that is 2 years old. Over time, paper changes colour, ink changes colour, the UV light, moisture and age can affect the colour. This is all true. It is virtually impossible to match exactly as any one will tell you. Even bank notes vary from batch to batch.

But this was not just an issue of time. One thing we had not specifically considerd was the IMPROVEMENT in print technology over that time frame. The stock is the same, the printer is the same, the technology on the other hand had moved on.

Yes, it's still a Xerox digital printing press, but this time its a brand new one. It prints a much closer match to process colour litho. It deals with tints in a really clean and smooth manner, with virtually no mottling. Amazing!

But, sadly for us,  a good reason for the aforementioned client to take issue. Because the colour did not match exactly to the 2 year old batch, we had to significantly reduce the price to keep them happy.

It's the first time we have ever had to reduce a price for a job that is produced to a better quality!

Bottom line is, we now have a caviat in our terms and conditions which refers to the fact that print can change and that an exact match is not always achievable due to multiple reasons. The annoying thing on this occasion is that the job is beautiful finished and commercially acceptable. It must be, because the client is happy to use them. As I would be too, (and you know how pedantic I am about print quality!).
Who is to blame - well, in this case it is us. We should have made the client aware of this possibility of a variation in print finishing. Yes,its a hard one to judge because the job is perfect. It's just not an 'exact' reprint.

To summarise and to avoid frustration and conflict, it is worth being mindful of emerging technology and the possible impact this can have on your re-prints, especially if your original is digitally printed. In future we will continue to strive to provide the best in print, but sometimes this may mean that an older job may match exactly to a previous one when compared side by side.

If you'd like to have a discussion about your print and potential pitfalls give is a call on 01332 291141 and we will be happy to bore you to death with the pros and cons of different print technologies as well as the numerous issues to be aware of.

No comments:

Post a Comment