I recently learned that Tucson-based Spectrum Printing made a decision to seek Idealliance’s G7 Master Facility Qualification with the help of G7 expert Jeff Collins, Konica Minolta’s National Color Solutions Manager. I spoke with Ken Huizenga, Production Manager, a few days after the process was completed to see how it went and what he learned. He had some interesting early insights, and we will follow up again in a month to get a deeper look at the benefits the company has achieved as a result of the Idealliance G7 Master Facility process.
Spectrum Printing, founded more than 30 years ago by the original owner, George Stewart, has grown from a business dependent on small duplicators to a full-fledged commercial printer with two half-size Komori offset presses and a digital department with HP Indigo and Konica Minolta digital presses. Today, the company has 24 employees and generates about $3 million in annual revenues.
“As we evolved over time,” Huizenga said, “the old-school craftsman approach got us by for a long time. But once we implemented digital, beginning seven years ago with our first HP Indigo, we saw this as a great opportunity to educate ourselves about a new print medium for the organization. Now, in addition to our Komori presses, we have an HP Indigo 5500, a Konica Minolta C1100 and a Konica Minolta C1085. Ensuring color consistency across all those technologies is a challenge, and that made the decision to go through the G7 Master Facility Qualification process with a seasoned G7 Expert like Jeff an easy decision.”
Huizenga explains that prior to going through the G7 process, each press had its own calibration process. Calibration for the HP Indigo ran daily, and calibration for the Konica Minolta presses ran weekly. While they didn’t match offset exactly, they were relatively consistent and matched well enough for most customer requirements.
On Day One of the process, the team tackled the digital presses. This involved adding a GRACoL curve, another specification created by Idealliance, to the Konica Minolta presses to get as close as possible to G7. “They were pretty close,” Huizenga reported. “They just needed minor tweaks. Now we have a G7 curve we calibrate to every time. If we have problem jobs or something we think doesn’t look right, we can print the G7 test forms to determine whether it is the press or the file, and that will save us a great deal of time.”
Day Two was a little more complicated, according to Huizenga. The company’s 6-color Komori Lithrone with anilox coater was the project for the day. “After initial testing,” he said, “we found that our RAMPAGE system was doing some crazy things. It caused a small percentage of black dots that were not supposed to be there, affecting the tint in some of the other colors. It took some time to figure out what it was doing. Once we did that, though, on Day Three, the final set of plates rolled up and passed quickly. I was very happy to know that our presses were dialed in and set up right. In addition to solving the RAMPAGE problem, we needed to make changes to the plate curve to get the press to pass.”
Huizenga used the auto-tracking densitometer on the Komori press to read the sheets, scanned sheets with an X-Rite i1iSis, and then also spot-checked them with an X-Rite 520 spectrophotometer. “Gray balance is what G7 is all about,” Huizenga added, “and it was interesting to see how the builds changed as we went through the process and what effect the curves had on L*a*b values as we adjusted them.”
Overall, Huizenga found the process to be very helpful. “It was great to be able to lay out all four of these sheets with the inkjet proof, which was also calibrated, and it was the best-looking set of sheets I have seen. Having a better proof and the correct curves would make any shop better. It will be interesting to see if we are running up to color faster, and not fighting to get colors matching as much.”
We’ll be checking back in with Ken in a few weeks to hear more about actual results! We’ll also be asking him whether the Idealliance G7 Master Facility Qualification has been used in selling the company’s services, and what the overall customer response has been to the improved quality and credibility that comes with G7 Master Facility Qualification. Stay tuned!
G7 Certification is expensive and complicated, right?
Nope, not really. And the benefits gained far outweigh the costs incurred as the Spectrum experience demonstrates. Here are some quick facts!
The costs associated with G7 Master Facility Qualification are:
- $350 Application Fee Plus:
- $150 G7 Color space compliance
- $100 G7 Targeted Compliance
- $100 G7 Grayscale
- Two Ways to Become a G7 Master Qualified Facility
- Send a staff member to an Idealliance G7 Expert/Professional Training (training events occur many times throughout the year in the United States and around the world).
- Hire a G7 Expert, which is easily done by locating a G7 Expert in the Directory at idealliance.org/g7
WHY PRINT BUYERS ASK FOR G7: If all print products have the same gray balance and neutral tonality as defined by G7, they will look remarkably alike to the human eye, a key component in effective brand management.
Print buyers are…
- Seeking consistent reproduction of printed work to maintain the integrity of brand identity.
- Seeking suppliers using global standards throughout the print production supply chain.
- Seeking suppliers validated by an independent source to be proven quality leaders.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A G7 MASTER: G7 Master Qualification is granted to a physical facility. G7 Master status indicates that the facility has calibrated certain equipment and systems to G7 gray balance and neutral tone curves and are capable of delivering G7-compliant proofs and print products. While many G7 Masters are printing companies, other graphic solutions providers such as creative and pre-media providers may also be qualified as G7 Masters.
G7 Masters are…
- Skilled, tested, and proven leaders in print production.
- Users of global standards to match proof-to-print across any process, ink, or substrate.
- Committed to reducing costs, speeding product to market, and improving their client’s brand image.
You can find out everything you need to know about G7 at www.idealliance.org/g7.