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Color Measurement 201

Color Measurement 201

What is an acceptable St. Patrick’s Day tolerance?

Green is green, right?

Maybe if you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but not when your bottom line is impacted by color accuracy.IMG_5611

In the color industry, a tolerance is the acceptable amount of difference between a standard (the color you’re trying to match) and a sample (the color you are producing). To determine whether a color is within tolerance, many manufacturers use a color measurement device called a spectrophotometer to measure both colors and compare the difference between them. This difference is known as the Delta E.

Generally, the amount of color difference that the naked eye will notice is somewhere around a Delta E of 1 (a trained colorist may be able to see much less), but that’s just a starting point. Acceptable color tolerance varies by application and industry.

If you’re printing billboards on a wide-format printer, for example, the color doesn’t need to be as exact as it does for small plastic toy parts that must match once they’re assembled. While a Delta E of 3, or even 5, may be acceptable for the billboard, the toy won’t pass inspection if the color of the parts is farther apart than a Delta E of 1.

There’s something else that must be considered when setting tolerances in manufacturing, and it’s great news for manufacturers producing St. Patrick’s Day merchandise. It’s harder for us to detect slight shifts in the color green than it is in other colors like reds, blues, and tans.

Today we’ll look at an experiment conducted by David MacAdam in the 1940s that helps us understand why some colors have tolerances that are farther apart than others.

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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 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.


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

Why is controlling color so hard?

As an Applications Engineer and Technical Support Specialist at X-Rite, I get a lot of calls from frustrated customers who don’t understand why they can’t get their color right. They’re tired of the trial and error, rework, and wasted materials that are impacting their bottom line and credibility with customers. They just want their color workflow to WORK and FLOW.

Why is it so hard?

Today we’ll walk through the top 8 reasons color control programs fail, so you can evaluate and improve yours.

xrite; x-rite benchtop; color control

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Color Measurement 201

Establishing Flexo Process Control

To achieve predictable, repeatable color on a flexographic press, you need good color management and solid process control. Otherwise, hitting your colors is really just luck. Although it may take a little effort to set up, it’s worth it. Your customers will be more satisfied, and you’ll save time and money through faster make-ready time and fewer reprints.

Today we’ll take a look at what’s involved in setting up flexo process control.

xrite exact flexographic process control

The X-Rite eXact takes the guesswork out of flexo process control.

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