Print Inspection: Are You Still Trusting to Luck?

In Printed Product on March 25, 2013 at 11:33 am


This article is currently featuring in the news blog on the M Partners web site: What is quality in terms of a printed item? How do you evaluate perfect print? Do all brochures need to be exactly the same? Things get a bit more exacting when you talk about postage stamps. Flaws in printed stamps have been known to sell for large sums of money, making fortunes for those that spot them, and making headlines for print for all of the wrong reasons. Money: now there is another thing! Perfection in a £20 note is imperative. Quality is king.

On the subject of money, we also need to appreciate the purchasing power of the great British food producers. Drive a hard bargain they most certainly do, and packaging, of course, is no exception. Customer inspections are now forcing significant financial penalties on printed packaging providers when defects are found. In a market where thin margins are standard, the only solution is to provide detailed inspections post printing, prior to dispatch.

Printers up and down the land are screaming on reading this post: “Our print is perfect!” If we asked for proof, however, could it be provided? Many high security items, as well as packaging, are checked by human eye. How reliable is the human eye? In “technical speak” the human eye can see a variance to a Delta-e level of 5 or perhaps 4 on a good day. An electronic inspection system can work to level 1.

Customers in all walks of life are now demanding 100% inspection, 100% quality. They don’t, of course, expect to pay more for this. What is the printer to do? A change in mind set is required perhaps. Whilst inspection systems might have been seen as an added cost, they now need to be viewed as an essential investment. People are an expensive overhead, and none too reliable when it comes to quality examination. Kit might be an expensive up front cost, but it will be able to pick up on the tiniest flaw, if desired, and will work tirelessly for many a year. Automation will provide an effective ROI by both eliminating customer claims and providing an additional sales argument for your business.

With all of the many challenges facing printing, this basic one of quality produced can be met and answered immediately. We firmly believe that printers will ignore this issue at their peril. Once more we need to take a leaf out of the Japanese business handbook: 100% inspection, 100% quality is recognized as the Japanese standard. Why not make it the British standard too?


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