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Scott Harig

Color Measurement 201

Why your Color Might be Wrong on Press: Environment

In a perfect world, you should be able to put ink in the press and simply run a job. Unfortunately, every year flexo and gravure printing operations waste ink, substrate and press time trying to get color right. Although advancements in technology have made it easier to achieve color accuracy, the variables that affect color still exist.

In this three-part series, we’re sharing over two dozen reasons your color might be wrong on press. We’ve already covered two important factors – Instrumentation and Standards & Ink. Today we’re looking at how the environment and your press can affect final color.

press sheets on printer

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Color Measurement 201

Why your Color Might be Wrong on Press: Standards & Ink

In a perfect world, you should be able to put ink in the press and simply run a job. Unfortunately, every year flexo and gravure printing operations waste ink, substrate and press time trying to get color right. Although advancements in technology have made it easier to achieve color accuracy, the variables that affect color still exist.

In this three-part series, we’re sharing over two dozen reasons your color might be wrong on press. If you missed the first article – Instrumentation – check it out first.

Today we’re looking at how your standards and ink can affect final color.

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Color Management

Why your Color Might be Wrong on Press: Instrumentation

In a perfect world, you should be able to put ink in the press, run a job, and achieve color consistency. Unfortunately, every year flexographic and gravure printing operations waste ink, substrate, and press time trying to get color right.

Although advancements in technology have made it easier to achieve color accuracy, the variables that affect color still exist. In this three part series we’ll share over two dozen reasons your color might be wrong at press side. Today’s topic looks at issues that can affect your color measurement instrument and substrates.

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Color Measurement 201

Still reading press sheets manually?

If so, we’d like you to know there’s an easier way.

An upgrade from the original IntelliTrax, IntelliTrax2 is an automated, non-contact scanning system that makes it easy for busy pressrooms to measure color bars and press sheets without the risk of human error. Adding press-side quality control into your color workflow can shorten your makeready, reduce waste, and help you get to optimum color quality fast.

IntelliTrax2 in pressroom

IntelliTrax2 is an ideal color management solution for high-end, high-speed commercial printing and converting operations. Here’s why.

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Color Measurement 201

Five Tips for Using your Spectro Press Side

In a perfect world, you should be able to put ink in the press and run a job.  Unfortunately, there are so many variables that affect color that printing operations often waste thousands of pounds of substrate, and thousands of dollars in press time, making adjustments.

color goes wrong press side; inconsistency in printers

Advancements in technology have made it easier to measure color, but the variables still exist. To help you over come them, we’ll be featuring a series that points out many of the reasons your color could go wrong at press side.

We’ll start with five tips for using your spectro.

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Color Resources and Learning

XRGA: X-Rite’s Graphic Arts Standard

Many print shops use more than one color measurement instrument, especially for cross-media color reproduction. But if you’ve ever measured the same color with different instruments, you’ve probably noticed that the numbers don’t always match.

Why is that?

Spectrophotometers measure color by capturing the ratio of reflected or transmitted light from the surface of the sample and comparing it to a known reference standard. The result is a spectral fingerprint for that color. But since calibration standards and reference databases vary slightly among models and manufacturers, the same color sample can produce different spectral fingerprints.

If your shop is using more than one instrument, which numbers do you believe and how do you create standard operating procedures?

This is the issue that prompted X-Rite to introduce the XRGA Graphics Art standard for factory calibration. It not only solves this metrology issue, but also incorporates new advances in color technology and the latest ISO standards.

color challenges and opportunities global supply chain

The color challenge and opportunity in a global supply chain.

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Color Resources and Learning

ISO Standards for Flexographic Printing

The International Standards Organization has defined ISO 12647 as a set of Graphic Arts standards for printing. Included are eight parts:

ISO; ISO Logo; Graphic Arts Standard

Part 1:  Print parameters and measurement methods

Part 2:  Offset lithographic processes

Part 3:  Coldset offset lithography on newsprint

Part 4:  Gravure printing

Part 5:  Screen printing

Part 6:  Flexographic printing

Part 7:  Proofing processes working directly from digital data

Part 8:  Validation print processes working directly from digital data

Different parts of the world interpret these standards into their own specifications. For example, in North America IDEAlliance’s GRACoL and in Europe FOGRA39, are the specifications for offset printing that conform to ISO 12647-2 for a number one grade, coated paper.

ISO 12647-6, the flexo print standard, does not define solid ink density target numbers, but rather hue angle target values for solid ink color and recommended substrate color values. In other words, this measurement looks at the actual color value, not density.

xrite flexographic process control solid ink density

Density cannot tell you whether you have “good color.” If the ink hues are off, you may hit the densities, but the color will not match.

Today we’ll take a closer look how ISO 12647-6 is utilized in flexographic printing applications.

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Color Measurement 201

Can you bring ink back in tolerance without remixing?

If you use eXact with BestMatch™, the answer might be yes. BestMatch helps you determine if you can achieve a closer match to a specified color by adjusting ink on press.

Formulating ink for a press run can be tricky because there are many things that go into it. The vehicle, colorants, and solvents are just a few of the things that impact ink quality, and whether it comes from your ink supplier or you mix it yourself, ink can vary in thickness or concentration. With BestMatch, you can confirm that the ink you put on press will meet your customer’s color tolerance requirements.

eXact’s BestMatch function also helps press operators keep ink color on target during make-ready and print runs. There are many factors that can affect print quality from one section of the press to the next. Sometimes the ink from one section can even contaminate the next color. If you control the press by density alone, you won’t see these shifts in color. And visual evaluation may not alert you to a problem until the color is considerably out of tolerance.

BestMatch is a predictive color tool that looks at concentration and ink thickness to see if you can get to the right color. Whether you’re trying to determine if you can hit a color using your press inks or need a PANTONE® Spot Color, or wondering if you can achieve a client’s spot color without cleaning the ink fountain and reformulating, BestMatch makes it possible to make go/no-go decisions on the fly. If getting to the right color is not possible, you’ll quickly know you need to go back and reformulate.

Today we’ll show you how to optimize your ink formulation, make-ready, and print workflow using the BestMatch feature available on the X-Rite eXact Standard and Advanced instruments.

BestMatchGraphic

This is the color axis for a green sample. The BestMatch point shows the best possible green that can be achieved by adjusting the ink thickness or concentration, so you can quickly determine if rework is necessary.

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Color Measurement 201

Beyond CMYK in Color Printing

In our additive vs. subtractive color models post earlier this week, we talked about color models and CMYK printing. However, anyone responsible for printing Halloween goods or packaging knows that that some colors are just too difficult to reproduce using only CMYK inks. And orange can be one of those colors!

A fourth color, black (K, which stands for key) is often added to subtractive color printing applications. Since C+M+Y actually create a muddy brownish color due to ink impurities in C, M and Y, adding a true black ink creates the deep color and tones that CMY alone can’t achieve, plus adds density to the shadows.

This four-color printing is called CMYK. Today we’ll look at other ways printers can extend the gamut of CMY to save ink.

Using gray component replacement (GCR) and spot colors on press can help create a crisper print and more saturated colors.

Using gray component replacement (GCR) and spot colors on press can help create a crisper print and more saturated colors.

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