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The Importance of Color Quality Process Controls

Mike Todryk

Previously, we discussed what marketers should know about color quality process controls. Today we’ll tackle what to ask when evaluating your providers’ process controls.

Risks of Not Having Color Quality Process Controls

What is at risk when you work with a print production provider that may not have the best color quality process controls? Here are two major concerns:

  • Color quality process control is the only way to assure consistency across print technologies and locations. Without it, you run the risk of components in a mailpiece not having a shared appearance. There is nothing worse than the letter, envelope, and insert in a mailpiece having different shades of blue. Process control is critical to help prevent that.
  • Process control also extends to proofing. Proofs should be checked daily for consistency to the press standard they are emulating. Proofs that have drifted may not be able to be matched on press.

Be Sure to Ask the Right Questions

I’m often asked what kind of questions should be asked when evaluating a print production provider. Here are some of the most important:

  • Ask the print production provider if they are a G7 Master Printer. G7 Master Printers are held to a high standard of print production. Because of the G7 methodology, their printing should have a shared appearance with other G7 Master Printers, meaning even if you are using multiple vendors, you should get good results.
  • Everyone has seen Pantone books. What most people don’t understand is that Pantone has established color values (standards) for what all of their colors are supposed to look like. The books are printed like any other printed piece, and they are not always that accurate to what Pantone says the color should be. Our Color Technical Support (CTS) team has seen Pantone books with colors that are 3 to 6 delta E off the Pantone standard. All print production providers should be migrating to color control software that has the Pantone standards defined in them with Lab values. Ask your print production provider how they judge Pantone color matches on press. If it is still with densities to Pantone books, push them to upgrade to Pantone matches based on Lab Standards from Pantone or choose a provider that is already using a Pantone Matching system.
  • If you are printing on both coated and uncoated paper stocks, make sure that your print production provider sends proofs that are accurate for the paper stock being used. Proofs certified to one of the press standards like GRACoL 2013 for coated stocks or GRACoL 2013 UnC for uncoated stock are your best bet. Make sure you understand what standard is being used and how it will be verified. If you are not happy with the proof, don’t expect the printer can just “fix it on press.” Talk to them about what you are not happy with and what is needed to meet your standards. With modern proofing technology, the days of the proof just being “close” and “we’ll fix it on press” should be left behind.

Armed with the right knowledge, evaluating your print production providers’ color quality process controls doesn’t have to be hard. Don’t be afraid to ask the right questions. Remember, the print production provider is working for you. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact the IWCO Direct CTS team. We are here to help.


link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2020/01/08/evaluating-color-quality-process-controls/
Mike Todryk


Mike Todryk

Mike Todryk is a Manager Color Technical Support for IWCO Direct, the leading direct mail marketing services provider in North America. Mike has been in the printing industry for 25+ years, specializing in Color Management for the last 22. He cut his teeth in the demanding world of dye sublimation before transitioning into commercial print. Mike became a G7 expert in 2008, helping his company to become one of the very first G7 Master printers that was exclusively dye sub. Mike is the resident G7 contact for IWCO Direct in Minnesota. When Mike is not geeking out on color, he enjoys playing his guitar and spending time with his family.

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