Printer Calibration Frequency


Today’s Question: You said in a post recently that we can get by with calibrating our displays every six months if we have a newer monitor. What about syncing the calibration of the display and printer? Does it need to be done and if so, how often?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You don’t actually need to “synchronize” the calibration of your monitor, but it can be a good idea to create (or otherwise obtain) new printer profiles periodically.

More Detail: When calibrating a monitor display or building a printer profile, you’re creating a profile that serves to compensate for the specific behavior of your monitor or a specific printer, ink, and paper combination. If the “behavior” of the monitor display or printer changes, naturally you’ll want to update the profile so that you’re compensating for the updated behavior.

Today’s digital monitor displays are quite stable, so the primary issue generally relates to the illumination source fading over time. As noted in a previous edition of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, in general if you re-calibrate your monitor display about every six months you should maintain an accurate display. That frequency should increase as the display gets beyond a few years of use.

For a specific printer, ink, and paper combination, the behavior doesn’t exactly change over time. Instead, the most common causes of inaccuracy are changes in the formulation of the ink or paper that you might not be aware of.

As a result, it is a good idea to check for updated profiles periodically, or to create a new one if you’re building your own printer profiles. If you update your printer drivers or learn that the formulation of the inks or papers you use has changed, obviously you should obtain or build an updated profile at that time. But since you may not always learn about such changes, it is a good idea to update your printer profiles periodically.

In theory you would of course want to build or otherwise obtain updated printer profiles if you notice a change in the appearance of your prints. But a sudden and somewhat significant change in the appearance of printed output generally means something else went wrong, such as clogged nozzles or an incorrect software setting.