process

Generating Greatness: G7® Master Qualification

This quarter has been an exciting time at Custom Color. Last month we received an A+ SAGE rating for being a high-performance promotional products print provider. This week we added another certification to our collection.

We achieved G7® Master Qualification, awarded by Idealliance®, a not-for-profit industry group dedicated to guiding print production best practices, specifications, and standards, worldwide. Custom Color joins a select group of print service providers who have successfully completed training, examination and qualification process of their print production processes, validating their capabilities to the highest level of global industry standards and specifications.

G7 is Idealliance’s industry-leading set of best practices for achieving gray balance and is the driving force for achieving visual similarity across all print processes. The application of this method enables printers to reproduce a similar visual appearance across all printing types and substrates.

Prior to our first G7 Master Qualification in 2015, our large format digital print services to clients in the hospitality, retail and trade show industries was thorough, but standardization was lacking. With a growing arsenal of printing equipment, we recognized that we had to ensure standardization across our presses so that mixed material marketing campaigns would appear cohesive in color. We looked to our Prepress Lead Larry, and the Idealliance G7 Master Program, to achieve further productivity gains to better serve our customer’s objectives for brand color quality and control.

“Ensuring color quality for our customers is vital,” stated Larry Legg, Custom Color’s Prepress lead. For the past two years, we have dedicated time and energy into achieving the accurate G7 gray balance. This color standardization in gray scale and color across our presses means assured accuracy and consistency for our client’s brands. “

"We applaud Custom Color for utilizing the G7 Master Program to assure consistency and quality in their proofing, brand color management and print processes," commented Steve Bonoff of Idealliance. "G7 Master Qualification demonstrates a level of control and expertise that places Custom Color at the top of their field. We applaud their leadership, commitment and support of the G7 Master Qualification Program."

Generating Greatness: G7 Master Qualification

Our G7 Master Qualification, in conjunction with our unparalleled customer service and top-of-the-line technology, are all reasons to think about switching from your current print services provider to a print solutions provider. Want to talk about it more? Contact us!

Ink Inquiries: Our Most Frequently Asked Questions

There is a certain unspoken mantra at Custom Color – it is best explained by Alan Weiss, author of Million Dollar Consulting. Weiss stated, “Ask your customers to be part of the solution, and don’t view them as part of the problem.”

We’re collaborators, we always include our clients in the solutions to their printing problems. Oftentimes, customers coming from the hospitality, retail and trade show sectors have questions about large format printing, the process, and its worth to their organizations.

We decided to compile a Frequently Asked Questions blog to calm the qualms of printing prospects and current customers. Without delay, a bit of Custom Color proficiency from the beginning of the printing process to the end:

Why does my company need large format printing?

As we stated in our Questions Answered blog, the reason that you must incorporate large format printing into your campaigns is because “it’s, hands-down, the easiest way to attract customers, increase brand awareness and boost sales.“

Fun retail fact: 53% of all customers’ in-store buying decisions are classified as impulse buying – if you’re not employing POP or POS displays, you might be missing out.

It’s simple! You provide art and specs and we do the rest.

Can you make __________________________?

If you can think it, we can ink it (we have t-shirts that say this, so we’re very serious). Our large variety of over 125 inventory items works great for a majority of our client’s projects. However, if you’re looking for something that we don’t stock, we can special order any substrates or accessories that your custom project requires.

I need this by this afternoon (or tomorrow, or the day after) - can you make that happen?

While we try really hard to meet every deadline that we’re challenged with, perfection takes a bit more time than a day. Our general turn around time from receiving print ready files, to production to shipping is five to seven business days. We like to dedicate our energy to each and every piece of a project, which our clients love.

What kind of proofs do you offer? When will I receive my proof?

Customers have a few options when it comes to proofs. If you’re looking for a proof of the entire art file at a reduced size, you’ll need a production proof. We can make our production proofs at any reduced size. Oftentimes, our customers ask for a mag proof along with their production proof. A mag proof is“magnified” and is the term that we use when requesting a cut out section of the artwork printed at 100%.

Full-sized production proofs is exactly what it sounds like – a proof of the image printed at 100%.

Proofs are sent after our prepress process deems your artwork error free and print-ready.

Can I alter the provided template?

Many of our promotional products require templates provided by our prepress peeps. While we encourage inking outside of the box, it’s important not to alter the cut files or bleed lines on the templates provided or else ink might not make it on your box.

Tell me how you prefer your files:

Lucky for you, our prepress lead, Larry has put together this art requirement guide that you can pass on to your design team. Following these art requirements will ultimately benefit your printing timeline – if we receive art-ready files, we can usually decrease the print turnaround time by one day, in addition to providing print perfection on our client’s projects.

How long until I receive my prints?

Our centralized location in the Midwest means that we can deliver graphics and kits to most of the country in three days or less using standard ground shipping.

Fed-Ex Shipping Map:
UPS Shipping Map: 

Printing technology? Pricing? Materials? Tracking numbers?

Our fantastic group of Happiness Heroes double as print professors – they can answer any questions about the printing process, substrates, pricing and tracking information. Have a question that we haven’t covered in this blog? We’ve got the answer to that, too. 

Basically...

Solving printing problems is our number one goal. We find that including our customers as part of each solution that we provide ensures that our customers are 100% satisfied with the final outcome.  Let’s celebrate solutions together. Print with us.


Jason Milbourne is the Vice President at Custom Color Corp. A designer, pre-press connoisseur, and Royals fanatic by day and a fantasy baseball pro and taco and craft beer arbitrator by night, Jason loves all things fun and crazy….just like his hair. Connect with him on LinkedIn, but don’t follow him on Instagram, because he won’t follow back. 

Printing Predictions: Expected Industry trends from SGIA Expo

The Specialty Printing & Imaging Technology’s SGIA Expo begins tomorrow and we couldn’t be more excited. This Las Vegas trade show is where the most qualified and educated print professionals convene to check out the printing world’s best products, methodologies and applications. The Material Men from Custom Color will be there to explore the exhibits and take part in a bit of large format fun. 

It’s important to recognize that customers don’t just want a print service provider. Clients, regardless of their industry, are looking for a print solutions provider: 

printsolutionsprovider

With that sentiment in mind, I thought it’d be fun to make some predictions about what I think we’ll see at the show:

Automation

WhatTheyThink recently published a commentary that addressed automation as the hot topic for this year’s trade show season. “Automation has become an integral part of general commercial printing, with more and more parts of the printing workflow more or less completely automated.

I think we’ll see automation in two different avenues: software and equipment. Everyone in the industry is looking for ways to streamline the standardized parts of printing. Furthermore, printing companies want to ensure that there is as little error as possible prior to printing and in the final product.

While we already automate our prepress process and sewing, we will be on the lookout for more ways to include automation in our preparation and production procedures.

Technology

Show attendees will definitely be on the lookout for the latest and greatest in printing technology. It’s a given that the floors of the Las Vegas Convention Center will be filled with printers and finishing equipment – many times these mammoth machines are the spotlight of the show. Software technology will also be a pretty big deal for many print shop owners who are looking for automation and process efficiency. 

Both machines and software work hand-in-hand to enhance print output – print owners want consistency in software technology and in machines. All production devices should work together to provide reliable results – this is what we’ll be checking out. While we have a pretty robust collection of software and equipment, we are always looking for technology that can enhance our output uniformity and speed.

Substrates

Doing a quick scan over the SGIA Exhibitor List and #SGIAExpo on Twitter makes us really excited about the many mediums that we’re about to encounter.

I’m seeing quite a few new large and grand format fabrics that will make their debut at the expo – I’m predicting that fabric will be the substrate show-stealer.

Print shops are always seeking out ways to clarify prints and provide more deep and vivid colors. The dye-sublimation process is the provider of the clearest prints and most bold and vibrant colors currently attainable. A variety of exhibitors at this Expo will flaunt this capability.

As a shop that has been printing on fabric for the past twelve years, we’re looking for the next advent in the fabric forecast.

Final Thoughts...

In effort to be the best print solutions provider that we can be, we’ll be on the watch for integrations that incorporate into our current processes and technology. While I’m not a prophet, I am confident that automation, technology and substrates will happen in Vegas, but won’t stay in Vegas…because they’ll come back to our Color Castle in Lenexa, Kansas with us. 

Next week on our Positively Printing blog, I’ll let you know how accurate my expo envisions were. In the meantime, I’ll be in Vegas, baby. 


Jason Milbourne is the Vice President at Custom Color Corp. A designer, pre-press connoisseur, and Royals fanatic by day and a fantasy baseball pro and taco and craft beer arbitrator by night, Jason loves all things fun and crazy….just like his hair. Connect with him on LinkedIn, but don’t follow him on Instagram, because he won’t follow back. 

Laminate to Accentuate: Finishing Options

The word lamination might send you into a tailspin of memories from elementary school. Laminated calendars, letter sheets and name tags are often the first memory that we have of the durable and reusable surfaces.

Fast forward into your adult and professional life – many of the signage that you come into contact with has some sort of lamination applied.  When large format printing is discussed, most people think about the act of printing and cutting – few people consider the finishing employed to protect the print.

On most all of our projects, we apply one type of lamination or another. Lamination serves two main purposes: to protect the final print and to alter the finish.

  1. Protection – Both liquid and film laminates protect the final print from abrasion, chemicals and UV exposure. Lamination added to outdoor prints extends the overall life by two to three years. Indoor prints that might be cleaned, walked on or exposed to dirt or debris should also be laminated. At Custom Color we even have a laminate to protect prints from graffiti.
  2. Alter the finish – Laminates come in many different finishes that can be applied to the print to alter the overall look. We stock glossy, matte and luster laminates but readily have access to laminates that provide shimmer and texture. Some prints are finished with a dry-erase laminate that transforms any print on a rigid substrate into a dry-erase board.

Our finishing arsenal is stocked with laminators. Jeremy and James man the lamination station of two roll and two liquid laminators. Our GBC roll laminator is a pressure sensitive laminator – this laminator is ideal for heat-sensitive inks. Our other roll laminator is an AGL thermal laminator – its heated rollers apply pressure to overlay the substrate with lamination.

Additionally, we have a liquid heat laminator and a UV liquid laminator. Our heat liquid laminator is often used for our wall murals and wallpaper while our UV laminator is used on rigid substrates like dibond and sintra. Customers often opt for liquid lamination because it offers a bit of a price break.

When asked what he loves about his lamination station, Jeremy explains that he loves getting to work on many of the projects that go through production. He said, “everyday is different” which makes his duties more exciting.  Over their combined 30 years of finishing experience, some of James and Jeremy’s favorite lamination projects have been for the Chief’s Hall of Fame, Fireball, Boulevardia and HyVee.

Your project could be added to their favorites list. To find out the best laminate for your project, contact us!

Inking It Right: With White Ink

Think about any banner, vehicle wrap, window graphic or POP display that you’ve seen recently. The chance of the graphic containing an element of white is high – try to remember any white accents or type. The graphic probably wouldn’t have appeared as appealing without the addition of white.

Those of us in the printing industry (and many of you not in the industry, frankly) understand that most printers operate through a CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) standard ink palette. During the UV printing process, very specific and precise amounts of CMYK are brought together to create the designer’s determined Pantone color. Oftentimes white ink goes unnoticed because designers are worried about “important colors”, because, well…it’s white.

Since 2008 we have been using white ink capabilities in our graphics. You might be wondering why anyone would use white ink. There are a variety of reasons:

  • Use white as an undercover on a non-white surface. If you’re using black sintra because of the black core and back, you would want to include white in your four color display for readability and quality of image.  
  • Overprint white on see-through surfaces to achieve full color saturation.
  • To insure that backlit graphics are visible when unlit.

White ink is an option – we think of it as an added value. When presented with the option of white ink, there are three directions that designers can take:

While white ink isn’t a “new” addition to the printing world, it is an introduction that pushes us to ensure that our prints continue to pop. Using white ink comes with its challenges – white ink must be opaque enough to cover non-white surfaces but also needs to be transparent enough for backlit graphics. Our dedicated UV press operators ensure that images and colors stay sharp, because perfect prints mean perfectly happy customers.

Does the possibility of white ink intrigue you? Thinking about how to leverage white ink on your next project? Contact us.


Brett Saunders is the Vice President of Finance and Development at Custom Color Corp. Brett spends part of his days wondering how to combine his loves of product research and development, Haribo gummy bears, large format printing, and all things Disney. The rest of his time he oversees the company finances and productivity. Connect with him on LinkedIn