Print quality control is often a comprehensive facet of business for professional printers. This largely depends on Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) which represent expected software application settings and manage color quality control. Color often depends on many factors, including ink, paper, and environmental conditions. After the SOP is formally adopted, many printers turn their attention to individualized customer service. This is likely to include bespoke cost and quality packages as well as random testing of the finished product to ensure its accuracy.
Print quality control is very important when mass-producing something like a textbook.
Different types of quality control processes are implemented in various industries. In manufacturing, for example, some quality procedures are used to prevent product defects, while others work to correct them. The printing industry also maintains quality control standards that generally relate to internal processes, individual projects and specific customer needs.
Print quality control usually starts with the printer’s standard operating procedures (SOP). These measures generally ensure consistent practices and color reproduction throughout the facility. A key point often addressed in SOP is software application settings for all workflow computers. Updated versions of the software likely have different default settings as illustrated by the Adobe® suite platform. These differences can lead to significant changes in color values and ultimately cause a distorted product.
The International Color Consortium (ICC) specification, published as an international standard in 2005, helped set the color standards for high-quality printing. This specification is a format designed to consistently move electronic data between different operating systems. In turn, flexibility is offered to customers and printers. To illustrate, customers are assured that their images and profiles retain color integrity throughout the printing process, and printers can create a profile usable for multiple operating systems.
Another aspect of SOP is probably color quality control. Managing this often creates predictable and repeatable image reproductions using devices such as printers, scanners and digital cameras. Similar to all print quality control, color management often depends on a number of variables. These include choosing ink and paper and exposing the product to light, air and heat.
Inkjet printers often use dye-based or pigment-based inks. Laser printers, on the other hand, often use toner. Several benefits can be gained from each of them, although some printers may prefer one product over the other. In many cases, these options are explained to the customer prior to product delivery.
Unlike ink, which may reflect the printer’s preference, the choice of paper is usually customer-selected. Products with a gloss finish or added optical brighteners may react negatively to airborne particles and ultraviolet light. This, in turn, can influence print quality in the long run. Therefore, some professional printers recommend premium archival paper, which is designed to resist fading, moisture, and wrinkling.
Exposing the product to the elements can further impede print quality control. Many companies wrap the prints in plastic sleeves and store them in cool, dark environments. The customer will likely receive similar instructions upon receipt of the product. Without these measures, dyes can run out and impair color balance or print sharpness.
Once specific operating procedures are in place, each print job often needs personalized attention. Customer service is likely factored into this equation, where printers try to exceed the quality provided by competitors and also meet customer needs. Price is likely to be an important factor in print jobs, as some customers may be willing to sacrifice a certain degree of quality in exchange for reduced costs. Thus, printers may need to provide options with graded levels of quality.
Measurements taken prior to product delivery generally indicate the company’s use of print quality control. Printing equipment, for example, can often test the performance and printability of the intended paper. This equipment can also demonstrate the purity, strength and drying of inks.
When checking a sample print, the color displayed can be inspected to determine consistency. If considering book quality control, the page sequence can often be reviewed for accuracy. Some print facilities establish staff committees that measure overall print quality control. Others, however, may rely on customer feedback to determine whether expectations have been met or whether a superior product may have been delivered.