Q is for quality!

Quality is a subjective term relating to the expectations of the customer, printer and other professionals associated with the production of a job and whether the finished product meets those expectations.

I fuss about my customer’s quality expectations all the time. It is a personal and very subjective opinion, and every single client I deal with factors this differently. I’ve been told I’m over-concerned about quality standards by some, and then sometimes I get the impression that I’ve fallen short for other clients. What is quality to you and how do you determine it?

We mass produce printed products from automated equipment that can print, score, trim and bind at fast speeds. It is that automation or speed that allows us to print thousands and hundreds of thousand pieces quickly and efficiently. It is also that automation or speed that creates the need for allowances to be built into any job since all machinery has a tolerance. What I mean is that not every single piece of paper coming off an automated machine is going to print, trim or bind in the exact same way as the one before it. Go ahead and try to cut out ten pieces of paper by hand. If you take enough time you can most-likely get all the pieces cut the same. Now, fold each piece in half. Again, you might be able to keep all ten looking exactly the same if you spend enough time on the effort. Now, try binding some of the pieces together and I think you see my point. Every time you add another function to a job, whether it’s by hand or automated, the greater the odds become that the piece will have more issues that a client might associate with quality. Although printers have creeps and scores and other technical ways to ensure your printed pieces will turn out the way you want, there are other factors out of our control.

Tomorrow you’ll get the “rest” of the story…

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