September 24, 2021

PQX (Print Quality eXchange) Information (ISO 19303)

Many printing companies are being asked by certain brand customers, to purchase specific color software to measure their prints then send the data back to the customer.  Some printers have had to purchase nine different color measurement software programs to accommodate nine different customers. The burden that this puts on the printer is completely unreasonable. Not only does the printer have to purchase nine different programs that they don't need to manufacture proper color, but they have to personnel trained on how to use these nine different programs, and they often have to place custom color bars on the job (manual process), in order to measure (often also manual process). 75% of the printers in North America are running on less than 5% margin, and this request is degrading profitability even more.

That is why ChromaChecker is supporting the PQX format. This allows the printer to use ChromaChecker in an automated way to assess any print process, and create a PQX file of the job that can be sent to the brand customer to prove that the printer met the customers expectations for the given job. Any color assessment program should be able to accept a PQX file because it is an ISO standard, and this eliminates the need for the printer to operator a different program other than ChromaChecker to assess quality compliance of customer jobs.

This is reminiscent of the early 90’s when printers were forced to buy every page layout program on the market in order to properly print customer files. It didn’t matter that the printer had one main program that everyone knew and had standardized on. To accommodate the customer, print providers/service bureaus invested vast amounts of money purchasing each software program. This all came to a halt with the acceptance of PDF as a standardized, portable way to share files for printing. PQX will provide the same standardization and portability in the color realm, by encapsulating color measurement data for communication purposes. 

The cost of purchasing another software program to appease an individual customer goes well beyond the initial monetary purchase. These other factors need to be considered:

  • Training time and costs incurred to train users on specific software, only on a specific customer’s job.
  • Upgrades and Support contracts for the client’s specific software
  • Billable time for your employees to measure the color bars, off line, using the customer’s specific software. Was this additional investment of time calculated in the original job estimate?
  • Additional space on press form to put customer color bar on printout. This will impact the size of paper, initially quoted to print the job, which increases costs significantly with long runs

It is easy to see how a such a request quickly destroys profit margins!

 

Consider what a 5% profit margin means to a printer that has been asked to purchase $5,000 in software. The printer then must sell an additional $100,000 of print business to cover the cost incurred by one customer’s demand. And, this doesn’t include any additional hardware that might be required. It is unconscionable to ask printers to purchase new software and training for individual customers!

The time has come to standardize on PQX (Print Quality Exchange) for color data exchange, analogous to PDF for document exchange. This allows the printer to continue to use the software they choose, on their presses, and all their employees know. They can export the data to a PQX format to meet all customers’ requirements. PQX will eliminate the need for customers, and software vendors, to bully printers into purchasing their specific software for their individual needs. Like the early days of PDF, certain companies will try to force this issue as long as they can. However, if printers become educated about this solution, pressure can be placed on individual customers to support open standards and force them to accept PQX.

 Learn more about PQX by joining Idealliance.

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