NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey certified new print-on-demand chart-printing agents and given them the flexibility to offer different color palettes, various papers, a cleaner margin and a range of services to people who buy NOAA paper nautical charts.
NOAA has now authorized seven companies to sell NOAA's paper charts, which are printed when the customer orders them — or "on demand." NOAA is continuing to maintain the information on the charts, and they are corrected with Notices to Mariners up to the week of purchase.
"Last October, we announced that NOAA would stop using the government printing and distribution system we originally adopted in 1861," Rear Adm. Gerd Glang, director of the Office of Coast Survey, said in a statement. "We asked private companies to help us transition from the government-run system to a robust and competitive market for paper nautical charts and we are pleased with the results."
Five companies have joined the original "print-on-demand" distributor OceanGrafix and the more recently certified East View Geospatial. The newly certified companies are Frugal Navigator, Marine Press, Paradise Cay Publications, The Map Shop and Williams & Heintz Map Corp.
Glang is confident that the expansion of the print-on-demand program will lead to new options for all who purchase U.S. nautical charts. As a premium service, for example, print agents are authorized to customize charts with user-specified overlays.
"With more chart printing agents, we hope to encourage competition and ensure fully up-to-date charts are widely available,” he said. “Buyers can shop around and find different types of paper or choose between traditional or new color palettes. Our printing agents can offer delivery or in-shop service, and customers can have their navigation track lines or other information printed as overlays on their chart. All charts sold by NOAA-certified printing partners are NOAA charts and fully meet navigational requirements."