Friday, February 3, 2012

Who is responsible for print shop color?

In basic terms:

It is management's responsibility (with input from prepress, press room, and sales) to establish what the presswork color targets and tolerances (dot gains, standards, specifications etc.) are for the presswork - because those are marketing/business decisions. Then provide the tools (training, resources, equipment) to allow prepress and pressroom to achieve those targets.

The responsibility of prepress is to align proofing to the target established by management as well as to maintain proofing within the tolerances established by management because tolerance targets are also marketing/business decisions. Prepress must also output plates that enable the press operators to align their presswork to the proofs with the press performing in a repeatable, stable, cost-effective condition.

The responsibility of the press operator is to manage the press in such a way that the films of the appropriate inks are laid down in a manner that meets the targets and tolerances (hue, trapping, etc.) established by management and that the halftone dots on the plate are reproduced with fidelity on the various substrates (avoiding slur, doubling, etc.). Also, the press operator needs to make sure that all press-related consumables (fountain solution, inks, etc.) are within the tolerances needed to achieve the management defined targets for pressroom output.


  1. Quit a bit for "management" to control here I believe.
    The press operator (press room) should be charged with keeping his press in a consistent state of control. Preferably an industry standard such as Gracol or Fogra depending on his file provider.
    Prepress needs to produce their materials to a repeatable deliverable which is smack in the middle of one of those industry standards. Usually it's someone or some group in Prepress charged with maintaining the consistency of the viewing conditions, application settings, profile building, etc. Also calibrating and monitoring the proofing system whether it's Approval, managed ink jet printer, or monitor soft proofing.
    Management insures that both ends of the process are managed and staffed with appropriate people and the tools they require.
    If the prepress is in control and producing files within the middle of the standard and the pressman keeps his press in the middle of the agreed to standard condition (easy to do today with plate setters) then on any given day regardless of humidity, temperature variations, etc. work can be produced end to end with everyone being satisfied with the end product.
    Strict process control end to end will insure that everyone's needs are met to expectations.
    In the end the staff is "responsible" the managers only job is to see that all the pieces and parts are available for their staff to do their respective duties.

  2. How many printers have one individual dedicated to just color management? Is color management more often managed by one person or a group of people throughout an organization? Can you offer any recommendations on justifying the need for a single person to manage this entire process?