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Why press operators complain

Sep 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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Now I am sure you can think of a thousand reasons, but there is one that tops the list. It centers on what they affectionately call the “[…] Prep Department.” This is for a number of reasons that cause great frustration:

  1. No color bars.
  2. Wrong color bars.
  3. Color bars running into the job.
  4. No side guide mark.
  5. Side guide mark running into the work.
  6. Side guide mark not on the edge of the sheet.
  7. Trim marks that run into the work.
  8. No trim marks.
  9. No register marks.
  10. Register marks placed incorrectly.
  11. No lay back and center mark.
  12. Work does not line up properly.
  13. Work does not back up properly.
  14. Imposition incorrect.
  15. Missing pages or misplaced pages.
  16. Scratched plates.
  17. The list goes on and on.

All of the above will be caught at press during the makeready. At that time, the plates have been made, proper colors put in the press, plates mounted, blankets washed, work brought into register and, finally, the color is balanced to the proof. Then we find the problem and have the plates remade. Now, that is a lot of wasted effort.

Some plants believe in inspecting plates to eliminate the above issues. Frankly, I think that is not the best idea for a number of reasons and it can cause problems. My reasons are as follows:

  1. Finding an error on a plate after it is made is still an expensive correction.

  2. We cannot see the image well due to the color of the coating on the plate and the background color.

  3. You cannot see the images in color nor combined.

  4. Chances of scratching with additional handling are great.

Here's the easy solution:

  1. Place a large-screen, high-resolution monitor in the prep department and have an operator look over the file prior to making the plate. It is amazing how many items are caught and corrected early. Catching the sure remake saves many dollars.

  2. To make the pressmen really happy, put on ESPN at lunchtime and invite them to the prep department!

Raymond J. Prince is a leading expert in pressroom technical and operational issues. He is vice president and senior consultant, operations management, NAPL (Paramus, NJ). Contact him at (605) 941-1492 or e-mail