Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Master Printer series: Greenery is important

From our Master Printer

As our Master Printer visits customers to install new machines and to help improve the production at our existing customer's locations, he notices things that may help all who are interested in keeping up with the best production techniques and the latest technology.  This is the latest in the series of observations.

Spring is a time of upkeep

Spring is here and we've set our clocks accordingly and replaced the batteries in our smoke alarms..  If you have read previous spring cleaning posts, you have already done the suggested maintenance for all of your equipment.  If you are interested in a technician doing some maintenance on your machinery, just give us a call or send us an email.

However, there is another level of spring upkeep, Pantone® books.  Pantone is a universal way of conveying color to different vendors across a vast array of products.  These colors are referenced in all manner of marketing and printing and Pantone is a color palette in artwork applications.  Just for fun, the Pantone color of the year for 2017 is Greenery, number 15-0343 and hex code is 88B04B.  If you aren't familiar with what these numbers reference, you might check out our latest e-blast because it is the background color.

So how does any of this apply to a textile printer?

Most community based customers have an image in their head or a previous print job in their hand that they are trying to match.  Do NOT let them use a Pantone book to match these colors.  This is where your handy color book from the ink supplier is best applied.  These are standard colors that will suit most situations and will make your life easier.  Keep one of these handy for all your sales conversations.  Typically, these are actual prints of standard colors that are glued into place.  They will give the best representation for the customer.  And for your own production simplicity, try to lead a customer to the colors you already own and stock 2 reds, 2 blues and 2 yellows. This reduces your inventory costs and future headaches on repeat orders.

The best representation is a key word here.  Computer monitors are not all the same.  What appears scarlet red on your screen will appear differently when you send a PDF mock up for your customer to approve.  Also, the output device that you print from will give different results than one at the customer shop and will be different than the final print.  This is where the true color card is important.  

If a customer refers to a Pantone color and has had other items printed with that color, then it is advised to use exactly that color.  This is where your own book comes in handy.  These books fade with time so a new one should be ordered every few years.  Also, these colors are shown in matte, coated, and uncoated.  This refers to the offset printing process.  However, most textile printers refer to the coated color to match due to the final finish of textile inks.  Be specific when with your customer because the uncoated colors are darker with less "pop" than the coated.

The formula guide for the color is printed on the book.  Those rations will give you great results if you have the mixing colors in house.  If you need small quantities, your local supplier can mix the color for you.  If you have customers who refer to custom colors often, then a mixing system in-house would be a good investment.

Why would I want to mix my own colors?

In addition to customers who refer to Pantone colors there are other reasons to mix color in-house.

ShortStop Athletic Numbering System
We are sure that you have already run into the problem that your little league heat seal numbers do not match the direct print ink that you are printing for the logo.
On a sales note, that is one reason that Brown sells athletic numbering systems.  But, moving along.
How do you fix this in your current shop?  Many customers will custom mix these colors and keep them separate from the stock colors.  Use your Pantone book to match to the vinyl and mix your direct color based on that formula.  Again, we would really suggest direct printing the numbers as well, but you might still have to match to individual player names.

How does this pay out?

Pantone books have a bit of a sticker shock until you realize how often they are used.  Also, color mixing seems daunting until you have done it a few times.  However, quality prints, done quickly for happy customers make for profitable businesses.