Most printers in Europe prove compliance of quality color printing standards through a rigorous auditing process, but there exists no such certification process for printers in North America.
To ensure North American printers achieve a color reproduction workflow that meets international printing standards, Rochester Institute of Technology will develop and offer process audits and certification services to North American printers.
"Industry leaders in the printing area have been asking us to take the lead on becoming a certification body due to the lack of any rigorous, third-party assessment in North America," says Robert Chung, Gravure Research Professor in RIT's School of Print Media. "RIT is an autonomous organization with the reputation and the know-how to fill this much-needed demand."
The program will be rolled out in two phases. The first phase involves RIT conducting a printing standards survey to determine the extent printers conform to well-defined printing standards.
In May, the university will launch an Internet-based survey and host a free printing conformance clinic. Participants will take an online survey, download test forms, conduct a press run and submit color acceptable sheets to RIT for a free "check-up." Upon color measurement and analysis, RIT will offer feedback to the participant, similar to a medical lab report, in terms of value, aim point and tolerances.
Once survey results are compiled, RIT will present its general findings (no specific company and scores will be mentioned) to the Printing Industry Center partners at its annual meeting in November 2010.
"The U.S. printing industry has been left with a huge void in the area of standards and process conformance," says Chuck Koehler, color expert at Heidelberg USA. "This is a perfect time for RIT to offer this type of program to the printing industry. The program should also incorporate training components to educate the U.S. Printing Industry in standards and specifications and their implementation."
Elie Khoury, president of Alwan Color Expertise and chair of KEE Consultants, is an advocate of international printing standards and quality management systems and praises RIT for taking on this role. "RIT's leadership in process standardization in the North American graphic industry is noble, necessary and realistic. RIT is, in our opinion, the only U.S. organization that can succeed at this ambitious project."
In the second phase, RIT will consult with auditing bodies in Europe and work with printing experts in the ISO/TC130 committee to develop process audit and certification services protocols that reflect the best practice for all. RIT will also offer public seminars to train companies about the importance of printing standards, methods and tools that are needed to achieve conformance.
RIT has been in discussions with IDEAlliance about how RIT's role as an auditing body will complement IDEAlliance's consulting efforts.
"IDEAlliance prides itself on being an industry organization that is active in promoting and developing printing standards," says Joe Fazzi, IDEAlliance vice president of print media. "As a steward of standards, we believe this system-level printing standards audit established by RIT is of tremendous value for our members."