September 22, 2021

ChromaChecker Benchmarking procedures for buyers of offset presses

When purchasing any type of print manufacturing device, it is critical to understand what the full capabilities and limitations are for the device before purchasing to ensure that the production device will be able to meet your customer's expectations and generate a profit for your organization. We have been involved in multiple situations where the printing device was not capable of meeting the customer's requirements either due to not sufficient gamut (unable to produce the critically important brand colors) or the inconsistency of the print within or between the pages was beyond customer expectations. When this happens, the print service provider not only loses an important customer but they also are left with a printing device that can’t meet customer expectations which can cause bad financial implications for the organization.


Through years of experience, we have developed a set of procedures that provide practical solutions to this problem which reduces the risk of purchasing printing devices that won’t meet expectations. ChromaChecker has developed benchmark procedures for all types of print manufacturing devices including digital presses, large and grand format devices, and conventional print devices like sheetfed, web, flexography, and screen presses. The procedure described here is specific to offset presses. Regardless of whether it is a new or used machine, the potential problems are the same. The condition that the press is in when it is demonstrated to the potential buyer may not be the same after the press is disassembled, moved, and reassembled in the customer location. We have seen multiple situations where the reassembled press never met the initial conditions that the press was sold under. And most buyers do not have an accurate, scientific way to prove that the press is meeting the initial purchase criteria, until now with this procedure.


Two key variables affect the device's capability to meet customer expectations, the first is precision, and the second is accuracy. Precision is all about consistency, and there are three types of consistency that have to be assessed:

  1. consistency within the page
  2. consistency between pages
  3. consistency between jobs.

When measuring consistency related to offset presses, it is critical to assess the difference between printing units, which directly affects the consistency within the page and will help determine the resolution of any unacceptable consistency issues. The second key variable is accuracy which relates to how close the device is matching a given reference. Accuracy is dependent on the precision being sound and also applying tone curve or ICC Profiling to workflow to accommodate the simulation to the given reference.




This document presents a number of scientific principles according to which a purchaser can benchmark a printing press to create a precise record of the press capabilities related to meeting customer expectations for print variation, and if determined acceptable, allows the purchaser to use this data to ensure the press is reassembled in this same condition at the production site. In addition, this benchmark can be used in the future to assess which parts on the press may need replacement due to wear and aging. 


We have developed this benchmarking procedure with the print service provider in mind and enabled the steps so the printer (with some onsite expertise) can perform the entire benchmark entirely on their own, no need to pay someone else to assess your equipment.


It is possible to independently perform all tests, from customizing the test forms to the interpretation of results. It is possible to partner with an expert to help perform all steps, but also in this scenario, the purchaser should understand the essence of the method in order to consciously use the information obtained in the future to keep the press in optimized technical condition.


The tests proposed here do not provide absolute certainty as to the full technical condition of the press, but they confirm fundamental, important parameters that are often overlooked using other methods, which become critical in situations where color precision and accuracy is extremely important.  The numeric results apply directly to a person's color expectation requirements for precision and accuracy. It should be remembered that the operators, raw materials, and devices involved in the process will affect the results, so great care should be taken to document and control these variables. The purpose of these benchmarks is to discover potential problems that are difficult to diagnose with commonly used methods.


Benchmarks- First, determining the precision of printing units. Within the unit, and between unit consistency benchmark. Print this form on each unit with the same consumables (ink/plate/substrate), and measure the results to document precision. Make mechanical adjustments until results are within expectations. If the press can’t be made to meet expectations, then the press is not acceptable for given work.





When reports show acceptable precision, then print the second benchmark file. Benchmark #2 assesses precision related to between unit and between job consistency. It can be used to assess accuracy to reference. Here is a sample report:


When the report shows acceptable results, then the company can print the third benchmark file.





Based on the completed benchmarks, the press capabilities will be clearly documented, and this becomes the baseline for what the press is capable of. This baseline will be used for the comparison when the press is relocated, or to assess the results of war and tear over time to get the press back into an expected condition.  This is a new way to quantify presses capabilities related to the expectations for how the press will be used.

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