Friday, February 12, 2010

Why Do Print Projects Take So Long To Produce? Part 1: Washing

We have all heard about the dangers of cross contamination and why it is important to wash your hands so frequently when cooking. That isn't the only thing we have to wash though - think about all those fruits and vegetables we cook and eat? With fruits and vegetables, we rinse them with water so we can get any pesticides and herbicides off our food. With meat and poultry, we frequently wash our hands and keep everything away from our raw food to guard against E. coli and salmonella. Also, we wash utensils and plates while we cook to avoid a sink full of dishes that no one wants to tackle after a meal. By the end of your day in the kitchen, if you stop and think about it, you have spent half your time just washing things whether it is food, your hands or the dishes. No wonder so many people skip out on a home cooked meal.

Believe it or not we have to go through the same time consuming process of washing multiple things in a print process that you go through when you're simply cooking a meal in your kitchen. We have to wash our hands to remove potentially dangerous chemicals and to prevent grease and dirt from marking on a plate or a press sheet. We clean the tanks in the image processor to keep sediment from damaging the plates. We clean out toner in a digital press or ink-jet head to ensure a clear image. We wash the blankets on a press to guarantee a high-quality image transfer. In addition to the blankets on a press, we wash the rollers to prevent ink build-up and roller deterioration.

Today, even with technologies such as automatic wash-up devices that take away the need to clean a press by hand, the process can be time consuming and it must be done often enough to produce consistent, high-quality printing. Just like buying paper, washing is always going to be an element of the print process that you just can't get around. So the next time you say to yourself why do print projects take so long to produce, remember washing.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Reflex Blueberries

Would you eat blueberries while wearing an expensive white shirt or dress? Sure they may taste great, but they are exceedingly messy and stain everything they come in contact with. This is a characteristic similar to the rubbing results found in the printing of pantone color Reflex Blue. Reflex Blue is very common, as it is used to build a number of different PMS colors. However, the chemical properties of Reflex Blue make it difficult to dry on paper. Some printers will say it never completely dries, but despite this here are a few things you can do to eliminate issues if you must work with Reflex Blue:

• Do not design Reflex Blue where it will come in contact with other white space on your print project. Reflex Blue will rub if not dry and your clean white area will have blue marks all over it.
• If working with a coated sheet, aqueous coat Reflex Blue to help seal and dry it faster.
• Give your printer a few extra days to allow Reflex Blue to properly dry (ironically enough blueberries take longer to dry and dehydrate than almost any other fruit).

Also, before heading to press, be willing to compromise on color. Reflex Blue has been known to look slightly different on every single print run. This is because the chemicals it contains react with other chemicals in the printing and coating process. If you can accept that every single print run might have slightly different factors influencing it, then be willing to accept that Reflex Blue might look slightly different in appearance. Does every blueberry look the same? No, there are subtle differences in shape, color and acidity that distinguish each one you eat. Sometimes when you eat blueberries they appear to be a vibrant blue and sometimes they look bluish-purple. Expect the same with Reflex Blue. Yes, even in printing where color reproduction is a science, a Blue can look Purple!