Still Waiting for that Aha! moment

Everybody has heard about printing to specifications, but many printers still haven’t had any sudden flashes of inspiration over it. Are they missing something, or is printing to specs more a pain in the *** than anything?

Everyone has had, at one time or another, a sudden flash of inspiration that says, “I got it!” “Wow!” “This is Amazing!”

For some it’s the moment they first really visualized what Einstein meant when he said that gravity was curved space. For others, it’s the moment they suddenly notice that their little finger fits perfectly into their nostril,or that they could also peel a banana from the pointy end.

In either case, the sensation is an unmistakable feeling of amazement, insight and joy. And then the lingering appreciation of “Wow!” “This is really cool.”

I’ve been around a lot of printers when that look of joy spread over their faces as they suddenly see how the process control pieces would fit together to change printing for them forever.

But I’m not thinking about those guys.

I’m thinking about all the other printers who kinda sorta get the idea of standards based printing but find it more trouble than it’s worth. They redo their G7 qualification every 12 months and print “pretty much to standards” the rest of the year but don’t get too focused on it because, “Hey, we’re selling print, not color bars!”

Those are the guys I worry about. As far as process control is concerned, they’ll make the motions of doing it, but they feel like they’re being told to tuck their shirts in. Their customers push them for the numbers, and they aren’t seeing much return on the effort it takes.

What they are missing is that, when all the pieces are put into place-proofing, lighting, plates, and press-printing becomes a thing of ease as waste and makeready times decrease while quality increases.

One of the greatest things about printing to specifications is that everybody can play. No single brand of software or hardware is required. It can be done with new or old equipment. And it enables even small printers to compete with the big guys head-on.

So what is keeping some printers from having that Aha! moment about process control and printing to specifications?

It must surely be a sort of doubt…..not doubt about a particular product, but doubt about the whole concept of printing to specifications and process control  Something like the opposite of an Aha! Moment. We might call it a Nawh Moment. That’s the moment we think, “It couldn’t work that well.”, “It isn’t worth the trouble.”, “We’re too small” “I’m not ready.”

But there is another element, preventing printers from fully grasping the implications of printing to measurement, and it is what is sometimes called failure to connect the dots. I don’t particularly like that as an expression because it seems unflattering; but it does convey the idea of how someone could understand individual points within the print process, while not seeing how, when all put together by way of measurement, standards and communication, a much greater result can be achieved.

But I’m happy every time I see a printer that gets it. Printing is a old industry, but never too old for an Aha! moment.

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