Beyond the Brand Requirements: Using On-Press QC for Efficiency

Screen from ChromaQA, Color Quality QC software, showing ink Delta E, as well as recommended adjustments to improve Delta E.

For printers, being able to see if the print is good during makeready and production is important. Most press consoles do not have any easy way to see if a print is measuring to the print standard. Press consoles typically show metrics such as dot gain, density and even solid ink LAB values but they do not have a comprehensive ‘scorecard’ showing if the sheet is good, or if not good what needs to be corrected. The result of this is that press operators often do not know if a product is good enough, and the decision may be based on their judgement. This is a problem because different press operators and individuals all see color differently and have a different idea of what ‘good color’ is. This can cause issues, and is expanded exponentially when crossing multiple shifts, presses, and geographic locations. Efficiency demands consistency and standard operating procedures.

On-press quality control systems, also known as Color QC Software, give the press operator guidance on if the job is good, as well as corrections needed to move the job to where it needs to be to achieve a passing score. Print has a history of being craft based, and in many cases the press operator may move a job to starting density, take a quick look at it visually, make adjustments, and then run the job. With an on-press quality system the operator will move the job to starting density (or color), look at the score, and if needed make corrections, and then once the score is passing, run the job. The on-press quality system removes the operator’s opinion and visual bias, and makes sure that the job color is consistent regardless of operator or press. When based on a good calibration, this normally improves makeready and job startup time, making the press operation more efficient.

Excerpt From On-Press Quality Control for Packaging by Ron Ellis.