We all know about the Male Code, that collection of rules that governs the behavior of guys: Always split the lunch bill in two, no matter what, never speak in a public restroom, and never, ever, ever ask for directions.
But how about the male code in the pressroom? Pressmen are mostly guys, does some form of the Male Code exist in the pressroom, and how does it affect performance?
The central tenent of the Male Code-never, ever, ever ask for directions-is probably the biggest obstacle to great presswork. Presses are pesky things, subject to all sorts of mechanical and atmospheric conditions. These variable factors affect press performance, especially in the area of dot gain. Now, a pressman has limited control over dot gain, but dot gain is easily changed by the use of plate curves. Problem is, plate curves are set up over in the prepress department, and getting a change made would involve asking for help-a direct violation of the Male Code.
Overcoming the Male Code in the pressroom is a tough problem. We will talk about the many different ways to get over this obstacle in future posts (hint: they all involve communication); but the quickest way to overcome it is to go around it by making communication automatic. Presses have had scanning systems as a fairly common process control feature for a number of years, but they have all lacked a very important feature: the information stops at the press console. All that detailed information about press behavior and dot gains never reaches the very people who could do something about it over in the prep and plating department. Communication breakdown? Absolutely.
Today there is a solution. Data-sharing process control systems are able to take press performance data-density, overprint, TVI and gray balance-and deliver it instantly and automatically to the prep department, and creates plate correction curves that can be imported directly into any platesetting rip. The result? The prepress guys can see how the press is performing without having to bother the press guys, and the press guys never have to violate the Male Code by asking for help!