Did you know that more than 5 billion pizzas are sold per year worldwide?  It is said that an estimated 300 slices are consumed every second. Actually, over 3 billion of these pizzas are sold in America alone, on reading this statistic I got wondering why pizza is that popular, after a little more probe it was easy to see that humans are drawn to foods that are sweet, fatty, and complex. As for Pizza, it has cheese which is fatty, meat or chicken toppings which tends to be rich in protein and sauce which is usually sweet and it of course requires a process to make this delicacy. One day I was sent to help pick up the pizza that was ordered for lunch, on the queue was a family with 3 slightly over fed boys placing an order, so it was as though they had to define the parameters- style of bread, type of topping, the sauce that will go on and the size of the pizza, it suddenly hit me that it is actually wise to plan the end from the beginning… If the finishing is to be perfect, all that will go in must have been adequately planned and provided for.

A brother of mine just moved into his new apartment, I so love the finishing but it was a similar lecture I received from the architect as he proudly gave his reason for doing what he did during the home tour at the open house. The finishing has been planned before the foundation was laid, meanwhile the story is similar in every service or manufacturing sector and in printing this is also not different.

In fact, if the result that should be achieved is very clear, it will be easier to align a process to achieve this, for those living in Lagos, the Apapa gridlock disappeared a few months back when the government and the port authorities clearly defined the end (finishing) and then evolved a system to help address the congestion.

A campaign for an e-call-up system or if you like an electronic truck traffic management system was brought up, then the eventual design of a system to ensure that only trucks ready to pick up their containers are allowed into the vicinity of the Port. I read somewhere that over 50,000 trucks are now registered as the system begins to stabilize with a visible disappearance of the grid lock, kudos to the Nigeria Port Authority for this initiative, this is what regulation can achieve for the betterment of the majority, not only resolving the gridlock but also the extortion that the gridlock brought and the traffic theft that will also disappear. No truck can be extorted when the roads are free and in turn cost of extortion isn’t passed on to the end users, neither will there be constant traffic theft when there isn’t a predictable gridlock, authorities saw this through so we can have a traffic free finishing as the end product.

In similar manner, the concluding part of any construction or manufacturing process embraces finishes which forms the final surface of an element. This finishes protect the element from the negatives that can come from impact, water, frost, corrosion, abrasion, and so on, apart from the protective ability of finishing, it also has decorative benefits.

Finishing operations occur at the end of the manufacturing process, preceding this is forming the parts and then secondary processes. These operations can add a logos to a part, enhance visual appeal, augment durability, or remove elements left behind during the manufacturing process. Whatever the case finishing enhances the effort that was put into the production process.

Let’s start drawing a parallel with our printing process, print finishing occurs after the ink is dry. This series of actions are usually value added operations, making your product more visually pleasing aside from simply wanting to give it that extra protection, there are a whole lot of print finishing techniques to ensure you get the desired effect; In paper print you could collate, cut, trim, scoring, creasing, fold, laminate, die-cut, perforate, number sequentially, coat(UV or aqueous), emboss or deboss, foil stamping, padding, binding, routing, edge staining and the list keeps growing with clients needs and printers creativity…

For flexibles and packaging, we can also add shrink wrapping to bind the flexible to the container. In textile printing curing the ink through a calendaring unit of course is finishing but as textile printers get even more value to the level at which they can personalize and make the textile unique enough, they will also add embellishments or bling – this is called Aesthetic finishes as this modified the appears or hand feel properties of the fabric. They also have the functional finishes that changes the internal properties of the fabric.

If we are to think of the bottom line, we need to then establish the fact that finishing is not an OPTION, it is a MUST. Actually the finishing will always be a differentiator. Imagine yourself in a football pitch, and it truly won’t matter if you are a defender, midfielder or striker, what is important is that every football player must learn to be a good finisher, because at the end of the day, the goals matter! Using the below tips I believe that every printer who finishes properly will never lack clientele.

To get better at finishing;

1. Recognize your present limitations: Are you a prepress guy that doesn’t understand what to look out for to achieve perfect finishing? Then work with someone who can either train or consult for you.

2. Keep your eyes on the end product

3. Choose placement over power: We mostly don’t achieve much because we want to apply as much power so we can get there quickly. With good finishing you do need to be calm and patient.

4. Put a lot of value in practice so you can become perfect.

In closing, when last did you use the end of year to reflect on how you intend to finish the game of life? Do we know when the game will be over for us? Not really! But must we prepare for how we finish? Certainly, because in the game of life there are always winners as there are losers. Todd Henry is the author of the accidental creative and he enjoined “Die empty, unleash your best work everyday”. I pray we all finish well!

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