GRACoL G7 Master Certification
Sponsored by IDEAlliance
IDEAlliance is an established industry organization that works to develop, educate and validate advanced standards and best practices in publishing and information technology.
In order to achieve the IDEAlliance G7 Master status, Supreme Graphics was trained by IDEAlliance G7 Expert consultants to proof and print using the new G7 Methodology. The IDEAlliance G7 Master qualification mark means that Supreme Graphics uses the most modern technology, techniques and process controls and standards required to produce high-quality printing.
The G7 process has generated a great deal of excitement among print buyers because by following this methodology, Supreme Graphics can print on virtually any type of press and on any substrate while maintaining a common visual appearance.
What Is G7 and Why Should You Care?
By Margie Dana
If you are a print buyer or graphic designer, and the term “G7″ elicits a confused “Say what?” from you … read on.
The term is new for many in the industry, and it’s often confused with “GRACoL” and “GRACoL 7.” Time to fix that! For this Tip, I interviewed Randy Allen, digital prepress md proofing systems with the goal of repeatable, consistent color and images from proof to press, press to press and even facility to facility. The G7 specification is managed by IDEAlliance, and the biggest breakthrough is its emphasis on gray balance “target values” to monitor and control color.
Manager of Concord Litho in Concord, NH. Randy served on two G7-related panels at the 10th annual PIA Color Management Conference in Arizona in December.
MD: Randy, make believe our readers know nothing about G7. Please define it for us.
Print buyers, agencies and marketers want to be able to make things “look the same,” regardless of where or how they’re printed. G7 is an improved method for matching color across multiple devices. It’s all about calibrating printing presses an
The ‘G’ stands for the new calibrating Gray values and the ‘7’ for the core colors in our ISO printing rainbow . . . Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y), Black (K), Red (M+Y), Green (C+Y) and Blue (C+M).
For print buyers, G7 means that if you are working with two or three firms – say one in New Hampshire, one in Chicago and one in Texas – and all of them are G7 Masters, you can be more confident that the vibrant reds and yellows in your new marketing campaign will “visually match” across all three locations, regardless of whether it’s printed heatset web offset, sheetfed, inkjet or digital … and whether it’s a point-of-purchase display, brochure, self-mailer or packaging.
G7 has proven to be very adaptable and reliable across many printing processes, though I think you’ll find it most widely adopted in sheetfed shops right now. It’s getting us to color faster and more reliably, which is saving makeready time, reducing paper waste, and, best of all, making our customers happy. Three of our most color-conscious customers have raved about what their product looks like now compared to a year ago.
MD: So many graphic arts terms are confusing. Is G7 synonymous with GRACoL or with GRACoL 7? If not, can you clear up the confusion, please?
I know, I know – total alphabet soup! The acronyms are different, but related because they all involve IDEAlliance, a membership organization that’s been a real driving force for creating specifications and best practices in the industry.
Here we go: GRACoL stands for General Requirements and Applications for Commercial Offset Lithography, the guidelines that have become the de facto rule of the land in printing shops everywhere for producing high-quality color print. These guidelines were developed by an IDEAlliance committee starting back in the mid-1990s.
The term GRACoL nowadays pretty much refers to the committee itself, while its published guidelines are “GRACoL x” (GRACoL followed by the version number) like GRACoL 6, which came out in 2002, and the new GRACoL 7 in 2006.
When GRACoL 7 came out, it was after a bunch of research and press runs. It emphasized visual appearance-based proof to print, introduced the new gray scale calibration technique and more.
And then came G7, IDEAlliance’s “Proof to Print” process. It’s the way you get to the goals and specifications laid out in GRACoL 7 – by employing the new gray scale calibration techniques based on principles of digital imaging, spectrophotometry and computer-to-plate (CtP) technologies.
Then came the “G7 Master” designation, which is the “seal of approval” granted by IDEAlliance to printing companies, ad agencies and premedia shops who have successfully gone through the training, testing, press form auditing, et cetera to meet the requirements. You have to renew/retest annually to maintain the G7 Master status, so that helps guarantee that once a plant is approved it will stay on its toes and maintain the methodology.
MD: How does G7 help your customers?
Customers benefit because they’re getting the very best color management available today. Printers who are G7 have to prove that they can match proof, plates and press sheets – so the customer is getting a shop that runs tighter process controls than just using a pressman’s eyeball for color.
Let’s not forget, the statistics point out that one in 12 men are colorblind! By using G7, you are measuring color with hand-held spectrodensitometers, which provide accurate numbers of where you are printing. Color has always been subjective, so why rely on human eyes when we have equipment capable of measuring color so accurately?
Also, like I mentioned before, G7 Masters can produce proofs that can be easily matched at any other printer who has gone through the same process, so your files become portable, interchangeable.
G7 also benefits the printer. G7 means that instead of just using SIDs (solid ink densities) as your measuring tool on press, you now have the option of using a spectrodensitometer to measure gray balance. If your color is off, by measuring the gray balance it will help you know what direction to go.
In the plant just last week on our largest web, the press foreman came up to me and said, “That job we had on second shift last night, I had to sign off on the color. I ran the job up to density and could not believe that it matched the proof exactly. Fastest makeready I have ever had on that type of job.”
MD: Do your customers have to prepare their files any differently, because of G7?
No. If the customer provides their file and we proof it, we now have even greater confidence that we can match the proof. What’s great is we can accept G7 proofs from other firms, including advertising agencies and premedia shops, and really have a leg up on getting to color swiftly. We scan the G7 colorbar on the proof to check that it’s within the correct range and we’re off and running. An important caveat is that the paper you proof on should be what you plan to print on for the most reliable results.
MD: What is the significance of Concord Litho’s “Master Printer” status?
Being a G7 Master Printer means we have invested the time and money to calibrate presses to plates to proofs, to train our people on the methodology, and are vigilant in monitoring the process daily by reading colorbars for solid ink densities, gray balance and dot gain.
It shows that we took the effort to become better and more consistent day in and day out, that we are firmly committed to industry best practices and modern color management, and that we want our customers to have the best looking print that “plays well” with all the other components of their campaigns.
For all printers it should reduce waste and makeready times. And, being a “Totally Selfish Prepress Guy,” it keeps me from getting 3:00 a.m. wake-up calls from the foremen saying they can’t match color on press.