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    ISO 9000 & Quality Management in the printing industry

Quality management and quality assurance in the printing and paper processing industry

The ISO 9000 standards exclusively deals with quality assurance. Confirmation of and compliance with the quality requirements of the products are not within the frame of these standards. Furthermore it is not the aim of these standards to standardize quality assurance systems that has already been put into practice by individual companies and organizations. Therefore it is necessary to lay down quality criteria for the printing and paper converting industry outside these standards. As a consequence every company must work out a quality assurance of its own taking into consideration the specific internal conditions and situations.
In order to guarantee a common language, ISO 9000 starts with definition. Below, are the most important definitions given in this standard quoted in a short version:

Definitions according to ISO 9000 

Quality means the total characteristics and properties of a product or an operation referring to their suitability for compliance.  
Quality policy
The overall quality intentions and directions of an organization with regard to quality, as formally expressed by top management.
Quality management
That aspect of the overall management function that determines and implements the quality policy.
Quality system
The organizational structure, responsibilities, procedures, processes and resources for implementing quality management.
Quality assurance
All those planned and systematic actions necessary to provide adequate confidence that a product or service will satisfy given requirements for quality.
Quality control
The operational techniques and activities that are used to fulfill requirements for quality.

Quality characteristics in the printing and paper converting industry

Quality characteristics are features by means of which the quality raw materials or finished products can be assessed. Raw materials in our branch of industry are paper, carton, inks, and varnishes. Finished products are the products of manufacturing and converting process.
When dealing with quality and quality assurance in the printing and paper converting industry, the following items have to be clarified at first.

  • How is quality defined for printing and paper converting products?

  • What does quality assurance comprise?

  • Which measures and measuring means are used for an assessment of quality?

  • How is the quality measuring values evaluated?

The quality of a printed product

The above statement gives a definition of quality in accordance with ISO 9000. A definition, which is much simpler and easier to understand, is “a finished product with which the customer is satisfied”. In order to avoid complaints and disputes about quality, it is necessary to talk with the customer when accepting the order e.g. about possible operational and technical problems which could have a positive or negative effect on the quality of the product. 

At the beginning of every quality assessment it must be made clear: 
Quality in printing can only partly be measured. 
There is no way to measure what the human eye sees.
The only measuring means are densitometers  or spectrophotometers. Densitometers measure ink densities respectively ink layers; spectrophotometers measures the places of ink respectively colour values. Nevertheless, a quality assessment can be made with these measuring means.

The quality of a printed product is not governed by the print quality alone. At all stages of production, significant quality characteristics have to be met.

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