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Who Is Responsible For Mechanical Ghosting - the Printer or the Buyer?

Answered by Ali Westcott, Concord Litho. Featuring Chris Allegrezza, Plant Manager, Concord Litho

I just completed printing 500,000 brochures (5" x 7", tri-folded,2-sided) on a web press. 4/C with dull varnish. Printed on 100# Utopia 2 dull book.

I went on the press check and signed off on the press sheet.

Two days later, I received 100 printed samples and noticed on the front cover a small area that appeared to be banding from top to bottom. I contacted the printer, who reviewed the job and informed me that the problem was cause by "mechanical ghosting".

Is this something that could have shown up, after the press sheet had completely dried? I had two others with me on the press check from my office and am having a hard time believing that none of us saw this?

Should the printer assume any responsibility for this?

Can you provide me with any background information on mechanical ghosting?

Question submitted by Sharon Higbee

In direct answer to Sharon’s question above … chances are the the “banding” you mention was there all along. It’s unlikely that it developed off-press (although this does happen with another phenomena called “gas ghosting,” which is a completely different animal that’s even harder to predict or combat, and one that develops AFTER the job is off press . . .sometimes 48 hours after). While we haven’t seen the actual piece Sharon mentions, from the circumstances and symptoms she’s describing, we think the problem was likely caused by a combination of design and paper choice.

“In general matte and dull stocks are challenging in terms of drying because of their moisture content, and also for the press crew to watch and maintain the right ink and water balance,” says Chris Allegrezza, plant manager of Concord Litho. “Add a troublesome design to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for mechanical ghosts.” See the accompanying educational article “Ghostbusters: Don’t Be Haunted By Mechanical Ghosting” provided by the experts at Concord Litho for more information about how to avoid mechanical ghosting.

So who’s responsible for mechanical ghosting, the printer or the print buyer? Here’s our take on it: If you signed a proof but did not sign a press sheet (you didn’t go to the Press OK), and your printer did not bring up any concerns to you about mechanical ghosting (because of your design, for example), then the responsibility belongs to the printer. But if you went to the Press OK and signed the press sheet, then you are liable – though we would imagine your printer would work hard to help you through the issue (and keep you as a customer). The best thing to do is to try to avoid this situation altogether by proactively planning your job – including sharing your design – in the early stages with your print provider.

Answered by Written by Ali Westcott, Concord Litho
Featuring Chris Allegrezza, Plant Manager, Concord Litho.

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