by Ron Ellis
There has been a great deal of buzz about G7 in the past few years. G7 is a calibration method and set of print aims. (GRACoL and SWOP are charactization data sets based on using the G7 method). G7 is often thought of as a must-have for large sheetfed and web operations. In smaller more nimble shops many often wonder if there is any value in applying the G7 method, and if an ROI can be realized. After all, with smaller presses and shorter runs the savings are not as clear cut as they can be with larger presses. There are two main considerations to take into account. The first is what benefits you may realize from aiming at G7 targets. The second consideration is how much it will cost you to implement and maintain the G7 calibration.
Benefits of G7 Adoption
The benefits to be gained for G7 adoption are many. These benefits include faster makeready, less waste, and better proof matching, allowing the printer to complete more jobs per shift for less cost per job. The ability to quickly and easily match color also has a positive impact on profits.
If a printer has multiple presses the G7 method also makes it easier to match the same print condition on all presses – even in different locations. One example is Pro Print located in of Duluth, Minnesota. Pro Print has two 23×29” presses, three 2-color presses, a toner-based digital device, and a Presstek 52DI press. G7 calibration allows Pro Print to easily move work among its CMYK devices depending on a number of criteria, as well as to mix and match different parts of a single job among presses.
Calibration is only one part of the process. With G7 when pressroom conditions shift it is easier to adjust the press back to the target condition by using available G7 tools. There are marketing benefits as well. In some cases print buyers require that a printer be G7 qualified in order to quote on a job. Becoming G7 qualified also demonstrates that you are a step above the other printers in your area, and have reached a higher standard of quality. G7 adoption is a way to differentiate your business from the competition.
What is the ROI obtained through use of G7?
It depends on makeready time, materials use, and customer quality requirements. The more time and materials you are currently wasting trying to match a proof, the faster the G7 adoption will pay off. One of the benefits of using G7 is that you are not figuring out how to calibrate your press on your own. Instead you are taking advantage of the research and techniques pioneered and perfected by others in the industry. We as an industry are printing better than we’ve ever printed before – and there are definite benefits to improving quality today so that you are not left behind.
Costs of G7 Adoption
Of course there are costs associated with G7 adoption. Initial implementation of the G7 method normally requires several days of a consultant’s time, fees to join IDEAlliance, and the G7 qualification fee. You will also need software and a spectrophotometer to maintain and control the G7 process. Once implemented the G7 print condition requires process control and monitoring.
If proper procedures are not established and print conditions are not monitored then your G7 designation will be a false and temporary condition. Maintaining a proper printing condition requires discipline as the printing environment is constantly changing.
Some people accept the variations of printing, as well as mediocre proof to press matches. In addition not all print jobs require a high level of quality and maintaining equipment to industry standards. For these shops G7 adoption may not be the decision an owner wants to make.
Learn More About G7
G7, GRACoL and SWOP are maintained by IDEAlliance, and industry association. You can learn more information about G7 by visiting the IDEAlliance website: http://www.idealliance.org.
Ron Ellis is a Boston-based consultant specializing in color management, graphic arts workflows, and press calibration. He has provided installation and training services to dealers, manufacturers, and content creators since 1986. An IdeaAlliance G7 Expert and chair of the GRACoL Committee, Ron also specializes in creating internal working spaces for brands and agencies that allow them to work more efficiently with vendors, saving both time and money. Ron is published frequently in industry magazines, and has produced training materials for numerous printing industry vendors and publishers. Clients include:, Gannet, Hill Holiday, Pantone®*, Publisher’s Clearinghouse, Tom’s of Maine, TracyLocke, WB Mason, as well as hundreds of printers, agencies and content creators. He can be contacted at 603-498-4553 or through his web site at www.ronellisconsulting.com.
* PANTONE® and other Pantone trademarks are property of Pantone LLC