It is interesting to note that ISO 1, the first and presumably the most important International Standard, specifies a standard temperature of 20 °C.
Yes, that is it. Just a standard temperature. Well, not quite, ISO 1 also defines the concept of a standard reference temperature and that is the clue to its importance.
When measuring the length of a standard metal ruler, for example, it is important that measurement is always done in the same environment because temperature is the most important environmental factor. Many other measurement standards depend on ISO 1 and we all expect to be able to buy a nut to fit our standard size bolt.
Today it is impossible to produce anything more sophisticated than a potato print without the help of standards, although in practice even that may be difficult. This document is being typed on a QUERTY keyboard which is producing ASCII characters presented in a PDF document and displayed on an HDMI display to name only a few of the several hundred standards being implemented.
In the area of print production, a hierarchy of standards starts with standards for measuring paper, ink, and colour characteristics. Building on these printers can produce work using one technology or method that can be matched on another. This is useful for printing proofs or a small number of reprints on a digital press. ISO standards ensure that the colour of two packages produced in different regions precisely match on the supermarket shelf. In recent years we have seen the adoption of higher level, more complex standards to measure the effectiveness of our business processes, production efficiency and environmental impact.
In many cases standards are adopted "because we have to" and "our customers expect it". These in themselves are motivation enough, but ISO standards bring other benefits as well. Clear communication with customers and accurate print production may both have an initial cost but have long term benefits because they avoid miscommunication and rejected prints.
The last twenty years have seen the development and widespread adoption of standards for communication of images and documents: JPEG, TIFF, PNG, HEIF, PDF, XML, HTML, and others. We have also seen standardisation of colour communication using CIELAB and ICC Profiles and huge improvements in the precision with which we can press ink onto paper and other substrates.
The use of standard printing conditions is almost universal (be it by choice or by default) for four-colour printing. Control of packaging printing using special inks benefits from a range of standards for specifying aim values and controlling the printed result. We are taking steps towards measuring and controlling the environmental impact of print.
The ISO process is designed as a two-way, consensual process. At each step-in document development, drafts are shared with an international community of experts for review and comment. The comments are reviewed and resolved with these experts who correct any problems identified and select the best ideas suggested.
This can be a tedious process at times but anyone who cares about the future of the graphic arts is encouraged to get involved.
If you are interested in finding out more about the work of PAI/43, or getting involved in the standard development process, contact the committee manager here:
Delme Stephenson - Delme.Stephenson@bsigroup.com