Production Inkjet Is Not Ready to Save Your Life
How good are your sales folks at helping a customer choose the best print process? How well can they explain the differences between production inkjet from your other output devices? Explaining the benefits are quiet easy, but the differences are a lot harder. Because production inkjet is different, having a conversation about the print/color differences, the paper requirements, as well as the water solubility issues that may occur, becomes a much harder discussion. In some cases, the print graphics lend themselves to switching to inkjet just fine. But for others that require higher coverage and image/color quality, inkjet may just not be the way to go.
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with a lady at a conference in which I was presenting. She was quite upset with production aqueous inkjet. Her print requirements were very detailed—life and death detailed. She developed medical books, for which the image and color requirements had to be exact. An image of a spot on a lung, if not shaped or colored correctly, could mean the difference between different types of cancer. Since this book was a reference for such diagnosis, it is imperative for the images to be correct in all aspects for proper treatment.
The pictures in the book were large, in some cases full-sheet size less ¼˝ margin, creating heavy coverage. Her paper requirements were for 40# or 50# to keep the book thickness manageable. But, with using thin papers, the ink, too, must be thin and ink TAC must be reduced to eliminate paper curl. Reducing ink TAC to the levels for thin papers can cause a sharp reduction in reproducible colors in the color gamut, creating wrong or muted colors. These color shifts are especially evident in areas of mid-tone and shadow detail.
She proceeded to tell me that all of the printers based around her have shifted to production inkjet gear and that she was “pushed” into printing inkjet. And, in defense of printers who specialize in book printing, small run prints are more economical on inkjet. But, let’s not forget the reason why someone is printing and just direct them to the device that seems to make the most sense for the printer, but perhaps not for the customer.
Anytime you talk to a customer about switching to inkjet, have a face-to-face conversation with them with the actual product requirements, not just cost. All needs of the project must be discussed, not just that it will be more economical (for the customer or printer) to go this way.
I was very disappointed to hear that, for more than a year, not once did any of her printer’s staff talk to her about the “differences” with inkjet, and explain how the paper, weight, ink type, colorant, chemistry, TAC and machine all will be different than conventional printing. Never once did the printer discuss her image and color quality requirements and “diagnose” her needs. For her, it was like seeing many different Dr.’s who didn’t understand her ailment.
After an inkjet 101 discussion, she now understands the differences and, for her requirements, inkjet is not the way to go.
Production inkjet is a wonderful technology for many types of printing, but it is not right for everyone. The print requirements must direct the process. Or, in medical terms, you cannot “treat” something properly if you don’t have an accurate diagnosis.
Have you trained your print sales staff to diagnose the right print treatment for your customers? It could mean the difference between life or death...