On his The Blueprint blog, John Cronin noted that there is a focus in the reprographics industry on charging for digital services. The International Reprographics Association (IRgA) has created a committee to set standards for charging more. As an Autodesk employee sympathetic to Autodesk customers, I am saddened by this news. Imagine if an airline charged me more for booking a flight electronically instead of calling their 800 number to talk to an agent. After all, someone has to pay for web servers, internet connections, and software to book the reservations and collect the money. Extra charges for services like file creation (e.g. publishing plot files from a set of AutoCAD drawings) or file storage/archiving (keeping masters around for reprinting) seem like fair game, but should I really pay more for printouts because I email a reprographer a DWF file instead of providing a master copy? After all, the time it takes for the print operator to scan in my master is eliminated. In the grand scheme of things, this seems like a wash.
The IRgA standard lists the difficulties that reprographers face when working with digital files:
- The art and science of organizing and distributing high fidelity, project-critical content from digital files grows more and more complex every day.
- Additional expertise is required to handle jobs, and more communication is required – from the digital operator, to the salesperson, to the customer – to get the job right.
- As a reprographer accepts digital files, he or she must look for missing fonts and graphics, software limitations, corrupt files, file conversion problems, and other unexpected digital anomalies.
- 50-70% of jobs submitted in a digital format are incomplete!
To mitigate these issues, the IRgA standard suggests that when providing digital files, reprographic customers should:
- Include all support graphics and links.
- Include graphics in a proper resolution (for the equipment to be used).
- Include all screen and filter fonts.
- Include complete instructions with day/night contact numbers (based on your store’s hours of operation).
- Contact the store sales representative or owner if the job is complicated, or if it will require special attention.
- Include a color go-by for matching color or color samples. Color matching cannot be guaranteed without a go-by (aka: mock-up or comp). Colors on a monitor or local printer may not match the output device selected.
As someone also sympathetic to the reprographers' plight, if you don't want to be charged more, you need to do your part to ensure a smooth workflow that starts with design software, e.g. AutoCAD, Revit, Inventor, and makes it all the way through to the paper. Perhaps the extra charges should only apply if the submitted job was incomplete? DWF can go beyond paper, but it has to get to paper first. Doing that optimally costs everyone less - reprographers and Autodesk customers alike. By working together, everyone wins.