This was originally posted on JimRaffel.com on Jan. 9, 2007. It has been revised for this blog. You can view the original here.
At the close of 2006, ColorMetrix CEO Jim Raffel presented three proofing New Year’s resolutions, which he promised to expand upon in 2007. Resolution #1 stated that printers should “increase productivity by decreasing time wasted to re-print bad proofs.” It sounds simple; and it can be.
First, printers must start measuring the color bar they output on every proof with process control software, such as ColorMetrix’s ProofPass. Implementation of color verification solutions allows for analysis of the historical data using a built-in trending module or exported data into an application such as Microsoft Excel.
By doing this over a period of time (we suggest a month), printers will be able to determine the normal variation of their proofing process. Not every proofing system has the same normal variation; nor do any two similar proofing systems have identical variation. Once the normal variation is known, reasonable and achievable tolerance levels for the proofing system can be built.
If the tolerance levels from the previous step of this process are not what is wanted, don’t be discouraged. We still have meaningful historical data which will allow us to make process improvements. Using this information allows us to dig into the database. For instance, we would be able to see that an inkjet proofing paper from a vendor has a delta E variation beyond what a printer is willing to accept over a month’s time. The key is that process changes will be made based upon objective fact and not subjective opinions.
The process changes made will continue to improve the ongoing process, which will result in fewer and fewer defective proofs. Each defective proof no longer being made has a cost savings associated with it. When you add up all these little cost savings, you can quickly calculate the return on investment of your hard copy, color proofing process control software solution. In our experience, the entire cost of the ProofPass system is recovered in less than one month in many cases.