Today, promotional graphics demand process color. Can your screen-printing shop deliver?
By Bruce Ridge
To fully understand process-color screen printing, a person must be inquisitive and willing to invest time in training. Moreover, since the whole subject of process-color reproduction is very technical and full of obscure concepts, the best results are attained when training is repetitive.
In our industry, only a handful of the largest, most successful printing operations have established comprehensive in-house training programs to convey these principles on an ongoing basis. More typically, shops rely on external training courses, such as our own travelling seminar program, to educate their employees.
The problem, as we discovered in our own training seminars, is that most participants attend one production-related seminar every two to three years. Many of our students never had been to a structured training program until they attended our course. This means that the ability to repeat and reinforce concepts is limited with external training.
Besides repetitive instruction, employees also benefit from a hands-on approach to training, particularly with a complicated, multistep procedure like process-color screen printing. Obviously, training in the workplace with the actual tools used for production is the ideal environment. But if an external source is the only practical option, then find one that incorporates as much hands-on training as possible.
It's also important that any training program, in house or external, encourages interaction between the trainer and the students. Demonstrations and examples should be followed by an open forum in which participants can share experiences, problems, and solutions and ask questions related to the training program or their own process-color printing experience.
Training starts at the top
At the end of our seminars, we always ask attendees to fill out a critique/comment form. The responses we get on these forms unanimously acknowledge that we have been providing information in a way that the attendees can understand, which is great!
But the forms also indicate that absence of real decision makers, people that can put a plan into action and make sure valuable new ideas are incorporated into a business's day-to-day procedures. So production workers leave the training program energized with ideas to solve common problems. But they often end up frustrated, finding little interest or support for their ideas and having no authority to enact useful procedures and methods themselves.
You can't overlook training if your aim is to produce high-quality process-color graphics. Whether you hone workers' skills in house or use outside training courses to educate employees, make sure your commitment covers the fundamentals of color theory, incorporates hands-on practice, and reinforces concepts through repetition. Finally, keep the lessons alive after class ends by giving workers the tools they need to fine-tune production and allowing them to put their new ideas into action.
About the author
Bruce Ridge is director of product and process-application training for Nazdar, Shawnee, KS, a manufacturer of screen-printing and digital-imaging inks. Ridge develops and implements the company's training programs on screen-printing products and application methods for both employees and customers. His background includes positions in product development and sales and seven years operating an award-winning graphics screen-printing business. Ridge holds a bachelor's degree in graphic communications from California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis Obispo, CA and associate degrees in graphic design and technical illustration.
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