Color management has caused an explosion of opportunities for new and interesting inks and a variety of paper and substrates. Color profiles help ensure that you can maintain accurate color when running jobs with these new applications, but measuring test charts to create these profiles can be difficult to manage in a high-volume production environment.
Automated chart readers take on the burden of measuring all of those test charts, which can have hundreds – even thousands – of patches. Not only do they remove user error from the equation, they allow the operator to work on other tasks while the chart reader is busy at work. They’re consistent and reliable, and make it faster and easier to meet the creative demands of your customers.
Today we’ll look at some of the options for implementing automation into your color-managed prepress workflow.
X-Rite offers a few options for hands-free patch reading. Each provides support for a variety of media, ink, and printer combinations and offers modes for accommodating UV illumination and optical brighteners. They’re also directly supported in X-Rite (and almost all third-party) software programs for profiling.
The i1iO has a robotic arm that attaches to an i1 color measurement device and moves it over each patch on the test chart. The i1iO2 table is designed to allow a wide variety of thicknesses of substrates to be quickly measured, as the robotic arm can adjust in height to accommodate a surface up to 10mm thick. You can attach either an i1PRO2 or i1PRO spectrophotometer to the i1iO2 table, and automate the process of chart measurement.
Those who deal with both flexible and rigid substrates (like so many in the wide-format world) appreciate the i1iO’s ability to quickly measure a multi-page target by simply defining three location points, then instructing the software to operate in either a single-scan or dual-scan mode. Even if the printer produces a low resolution print, the i1iO2 table can automatically perform what could be a tedious manual measurement task.
The i1iSis 2 is designed for color professionals who deal primarily with print papers used in proofing. The i1iSis2 or i1iSis2XL comes in both 9” and 13” wide widths, and can handle targets up to 26” long… you can simply load a target of up to 3000 patches on a single sheet! The operator just feeds the target and the i1iSis2 does the rest.
With the print industry’s recent move to the M1 measurement standard, dual mode scanning will become the norm for color critical clients. Automation will help users more easily adopt this new standard without the burden of manually measuring each target row twice to obtain the M1 values.
With the ever-increasing variety available in print substrates and constant changes in paper formulations, any company doing daily QA evaluation or frequent creation of ICC profiles will benefit from the added productivity of an automated chart reader for measuring and controlling color on paper.