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Getting The Job Done – Quality Control

February 3, 2012
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Hello! I’m Masha, and I’m the new intern at Igloo Letterpress. I am a senior in High School at the Linworth Alternative Program. For the second semester of our senior year,  we all go on two 8-week long internships throughout the world. I am not-so-secretly in love with printing, so I was instantly drawn here! Everyone is very nice, and every day brings an exciting new challenge.

I’ve learned a lot so far since my first day nearly two weeks ago, and I thought that it would be interesting to share some of the things we do to get an order ready to go.

Quality control is just what it sounds – we go through all of the printed pieces and make sure that they live up to our standards. Some factors include lining up the crop marks, consistent color, and crisp lines. I’m going to show some examples of a printing of business cards that we recently did for Fine Citizens, a web design company. Their cards had a lot of elements that we wanted to get just right, so there were a few cards thrown out during the quality control stage.

Let’s first take a look at the perfect Fine Citizens card, one that passed every test we could throw at it:

Just look at that. There’s still little bit of texture in the orange fill, and everything is lined up perfectly. Ah.

The edges on the back are nice and crisp, what a joy to look at!

Here are some examples of ones that didn’t make it and the reasons why:

This card is the most obvious example in this post. Each color is applied one at a time on press, and this card is from the test sheet that is used to line up the crop marks for the second color.  It was used to get the darker second color aligned with the rest of the image, and so the shadows and Fumi’s last name are completely off.

Here the shadow for “Fine Citizens” is not as obvious as in the last example, but still off enough that we considered the card a dud.

The “fine” in “finecitizens.com” is not fine at all. It’s all filled-in and not crisp in the slightest.

We were even more scrupulous about finding those kinds of little mistakes. We even rejected these:

Each project requires ink to be added in different amounts to maintain the color consistency.  It can be a little difficult to get the perfect color every time. Here I’ve juxtaposed 3 different cards so you can see what I mean:

The shade in the middle is the one we were going for. Many cards were taken out because they were either too light or too dark.

Isn’t it interesting to see the little messups that letterpress can make? I find it fascinating and somewhat charming. While here at Igloo we might be a bit picky with what we give out as the final product, it is very understandable why we do it. Igloo Letterpress has standards to uphold, and we can’t just sell products that printed willy nilly! And especially with a brand like Fine Citizens, which is so dependent on its signature color, there’s only so much deviation that we can do with the orange background.

So were you surprised with how different the prints in letterpress come out? I have to admit, I was a little at first, but it makes more sense now that I know that I know the production process. In fact, in the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing different parts of the process with you, so stay tuned! And if you ever want to come by and say hello, I would love to gush and chat with you. I am here every day when Igloo is open, and I would love if you could come and visit.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2012 3:53 pm

    GREAT post Masha! I can’t wait to hear more and hopefully run into you in the shop! When will you be there until?

  2. February 3, 2012 4:59 pm

    as a fan of letterpress, i really loved seeing the quality assurance process! the attention to detail is admirable, and it’s a little sad to see the rejects… poor guys! however, high standards are a must, and it’s great to see what passes/fails. thank you!

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