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Acceptable Tolerance on Finished Piece

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  • Acceptable Tolerance on Finished Piece

    What is the acceptable tolerance, according to industry standards, on a finished piece? Example: 11x17 cutsheet offset printed piece. Have heard conflicting information on what is acceptable: +/- 1/32 " for a total of 1/16 " or +/- 1/16 " for a total of 1/8 "

  • #2
    Re: Acceptable Tolerance on Finished Piece

    In my opinion the customer decides what is acceptable, Some copy is more forgiving than others. A page with lots of white space is more forgiving then one where you have a key line boarder on a letterhead that stops 1/16 from the edge where ANYTHING less than perfect will be noticeable.

    You need to know what YOUR standards are then make sure the client understands what they are getting from you.


    • #3
      Re: Acceptable Tolerance on Finished Piece

      From a finishing standpoint, 1/16" was an acceptable tolerance. But there is no question that when something comes up about processing any given project the customers input is absolutely the first consideration before changing dimensions. Experience counts in this arena as sometimes you can get by in certain situations (i.e. direct mail) and other times the specs. need to be exactly as the client has requested as say with an Annual Report.. Job by job basis in todays market. is the way I see it.

      John Weaver
      On Demand Bindery, Ltd.


      • #4
        Re: Acceptable Tolerance on Finished Piece

        Ok, for my 2 cents.

        Tolerance is not an industry standard like an eighth of an inch bleed is. My preference is to try to get nothing in live copy closer than 3/32" to the trim or fold. Running large format multiples when the stock becomes more a part of this is why I use this as a mean. Yes, I have done 1/16", and yes it worked. Was I happy, No!

        If your question is how much can the actual finished cut size vary I would say unless the copy or parent size dictates a difference less than, or really no more than 1/32" difference is our tolerance.

        It is more and more than the copy is smaller and smaller to get a 4 pound bag to fit 6 pounds. Please keep in mind that 23" x 35" paper is almost never 23" x 35" when you get it from the box or skid. When it's larger - GREAT! When it is not, between gripper and trying to fit control bars for slur and color can be horrific. Most of us don't have the luxury of sending it back since it probably is due on press the moment it is opened or arrives anyway.

        Each step in the process offers a chance to have a margin get lose or tighter to the trim or fold, we have bleed for a reason. The heaver the stock, this is less of an issue and keeping the grain running with the cylinder on press and with the folds on the folder helps a lot too. If everything comes in just like it should and everything registers and folds right, wonderful, this is not what I see -- especially in the lighter weight papers.

        More margin is easier, and yes the customer is always right. Too tight is a job back on press and our customers have been most understanding about why we all want to avoid this. One thing that has worked well is we ask if we can slightly oversize the piece or trim with slightly more margin if we need it. So far we haven't had any issues, unless we fail to point that out.

        So, for final size no more than 1/32" for final size and for copy to trim no less than 3/32" to live copy is the best mean I can offer. We have some customers that say we can vary and give us tolerances otherwise we stay with the numbers I mentioned.

        If you are looking for the best measurement that will stand up in court, my advise is to stay out of court.



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