Printers can use conventional presses or digital printers, or both. They must offer flexible production times and accommodate both large and small runs. With the emergence of industry standard print quality practices and programs, expectations for color match and quality have never been higher. Given these business challenges, the need for reliable color management has never been more critical.
For digital printing, color management and proper data preparation are especially important because spot colors cannot be produced with a single ink and must be accurately transformed into a combination of multiple inks that will produce the correct one. color. While using a set of fixed inks with additional colors to print “smudges” is not a new concept, the associated technologies have evolved over time. Today, improved press, ink and plate technologies make printing more predictable, offering a wider color gamut. Additionally, software technology has made significant advancements, making extended color printing a truly viable solution for producing accurate brand colors, using a fixed set of inks for both conventional and digital printing.
Many digital printing facilities find that their color management technology and workflow don’t consistently deliver the results they expect, requiring a significant amount of trial and error to match spot colors. They struggle to estimate what the production color will look like and communicate it effectively to their print buyers. Their goal is to achieve their best color and present their customers with an accurate prediction (proof) that their customers can trust. With a competent color management process and proofing system, it’s easy to do. Using the right technology allows printers to manage their customers’ expectations, avoid confusion, and even streamline the approval process by eliminating additional approval cycles.
Two main ingredients can help printers deliver more color, with greater consistency, on time, and at lower cost: centralized color management and multi-color workflow.
Today, almost any printing device, whether it is a small desktop inkjet printer, a proofer with a proofing RIP, a printer of digital production or a conventional printing workflow, are provided with color management tools. While all of these systems “do the same thing”, they generally don’t do it “in the same way”. In addition, separate systems can and will use different settings and different color references, introducing color variations that printers cannot resolve. From a technical standpoint, this ad hoc approach seems reasonable on paper. However, printers often find themselves compromising on expectations because they just can’t “get it”.
Centralized color management is different. In a centralized system, all color transformations are carried out with the same color technology, using the same references and the same tools. This provides three immediate benefits: more consistent results using common benchmarks and configurations, more predictable color in all printing applications (including conventional and digital), and greater accountability for color performance.
If a printing facility has many production printing machines, as well as proofing RIPs (each with their own built-in color management technology), then the printer has a lot to juggle. There may be duplication of libraries of colors, profiles and calibrations, as well as different versions of these elements which secretly impose a color difference. Even the variety of different user experiences, with different color management tools, can impose differences on the final product. In short, without using a standardized, centralized approach, things are more likely to go wrong, and — more often than not.
Centralized color management ensures that everyone tunes to the beat of the same drum. Each task is managed towards the same target. Every conversation about color management uses the same engine. Regardless of the printing technology used, calibration works the same and does the same. By aligning all of these elements, centralized color management ensures visually consistent, color-matched results on any output device.
In packaging, spot colors are used to specify the design intent of important brand colors. In traditional conventional printing, printers have used special inks with special formulas designed to produce the correct color on the production substrate. However, since digital printing machines do not use special inks, brand colors must be printed using a combination of inks. So how do you get accurate brand colors using digital printing where only a fixed color scheme is available? Multicolor printing technology.
Multicolor printing technology turns spot colors into recipes that will produce an accurate color simulation using an extensive set of inks (most commonly CMYK + orange, green, and purple). By optimizing the way colors are produced on each device, jobs can be moved between different presses and even printing plants, while maintaining consistent and predictable color results. Consistent, predictable results mean the elimination of countless iterations between prepress and the print room, and communicating colors to customers with greater accuracy and repeatability.
Multicolor printing has grown considerably in recent years, for both conventional and digital printing. In conventional printing processes such as flexography, rotogravure and offset, it has allowed printers to work together, eliminating the cost of washes between jobs and streamlining the entire print production process. For digital printing, multi-color printing has helped printers achieve wider ranges and higher speeds, allowing digital printing to be used in more applications.
Multicolored printing is not a “magic pill”. Printers and print buyers should consider specific application and color requirements. It may be a good idea to run a four-color job with a single extra point instead of a seven-color process. In some cases, the printing equipment may not have enough bridges to perform a standard multicolor process. Also note that the process of specifying spot colors also works differently, as the printer cannot use prints to match colors before printing.
Without dedicated tools and technologies, preparing digital files for a wide color gamut workflow can be complex and difficult. Print vendors need a comprehensive set of tools that integrate seamlessly with their existing workflows, including proofing, profiling, conversion and calibration tools, to make the separation simple and effective colors.
A proficient multi-color workflow allows packaging printers to control their full gamut printing and color separation process, using digital or conventional printing. With color control, printers can accurately simulate mark colors. Printers can also choose their proofing mode, with the ability to move proofing away from the production floor, allowing greater flexibility in production planning and increasing production capacity.
Multicolor isn’t just for four-color printing. Using a multi-color workflow, printers can convert that additional spot color to a fifth process color, allowing printers to expand their print range even with one or two additional specialty inks. Multi-color tools allow printers and prepress operators to customize the way they separate art and precisely transform design intent for use with a custom printing process.
A multi-color workflow allows printers to fully utilize their digital printing portfolio, reduce press prep time, improve speed, and lower click-through costs. The combination of multi-color workflow and centralized color management allows printers to increase capacity without adding more machines. Artwork preparation becomes fast and reliable, with automated separation / conversion reducing time and effort.
Time is money. For printers who have purchased new printing machines, they want to make sure that their new equipment is up and running as quickly as possible, but may not have the time to set the color management settings that require it. surround. Other printing companies may wish to avoid purchasing new printing machines by increasing the performance and capacity of their existing machines. Either way, hiring consultants can help printers make the right choices to produce the best colors and meet their business goals. A knowledgeable consultant can advise on industry practices and recommend the ideal configuration of a solution, such as the choice of ink sets, characterization of the printing process, and other best practices.
With more presses performing a variety of jobs requiring consistent color, centralized color management is essential. Additionally, as changing ink on the press becomes more and more unpopular, multi-color technology can pave the way for accurate and predictable colors.
GMG Color is a manufacturer of high performance color software for printers, brands and brand partners across the supply chain. GMG ColorServer bundles provide all the tools to centralize and automate multi-color separations. GMG ColorProof, DotProof and FlexoProof continue to set the standard for color proofing and prototyping performance. ColorServer and ColorProof both connect to GMG OpenColor, GMG’s next-generation color management technology that uses the power of spectral data to accurately predict and transform colors.