Pantone Releases New Service: Pantone Certified Printer Program. Why?

This month Pantone rolled out its own certification program, the “Pantone Certified Printer Program.” According to Pantone, this program aims to help printers gain a competitive edge by:

  • Maintaining the highest achievable levels of color reproduction accuracy
  • Optimizing their operations from prepress to final output, to ensure greater consistency and efficiency
  • Reducing make-ready times and waste while maintaining color accuracy
  • Displaying a seal of approval from the world’s leading color communications and control company

It seems to me these are some pretty large claims from a company whose core focus is color. Don’t get me wrong––I am a huge proponent of using the Pantone Matching System in the graphic communication industry, but I just view this as a transparent effort to increase revenue. Is this a move to make up for the failed attempt at revamping the entire color-matching system with the Goe color system? (Funnily enough, the Goe color books are now given away for free in the value bundles with the purchase of the standard Pantone matching systems.)

Okay, enough with the wisecracks. The real thing that turns me off is this: Pantone ink colors were put on this earth to make colors consistent no matter where you print them. The agreement is that everyone who prints PMS colors has a swatch book printed by Pantone to match the printed sheet to. As far as I’m concerned, if the press sheets don’t match the swatch book, well then try again! I would like to extend my personal services to any plant that thinks it needs this certification. I will personally come and match the swatch books to the press sheets––and for half the charge of Pantone!

One valuable aspect of this certification program could be its effect on the ink room. If Pantone were to offer just an ink room certification, I think that would be beneficial. Through my tour of various printing plants, it has been scary to see how some printers mix and store their inks. It runs the spectrum from a full-blown ink mixing and storage room to coffee cups full of PMS colors sitting on a table next to the press. I must say, though, if the inks were mixed correctly, both situations should produce the same results. (It’s amazing to see what those coffee cups can produce!)

All in all, I just don’t want to see another certification program become the norm just so we can print another seal on the back of your annual report. I mean, we are going to run out of room one of these days with all the various logos of sustainability and certifications of due process. By no means do I want to see this program fail––I just don’t see the value in it. But, I may be wrong––I have been before. Can someone show me the light?

Author: John Mehl

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