Pixel Tracking

Colour In Print Eco-System.

Theo Eleftheriades, National Operations Manager,  Sales & Technical Services, Graphic Arts & Print Markets.

In print, Colour Management is key, and our theme at PacPrint 2017 is “Colour Managed By Kayell”. I often call it the Graphic Reproduction Eco-System because of how the various parts interact with each other. We have a compact stand this year that will deliver a message about colour specification, predicting outcomes, measurement & analysis with reporting, and on-press colour management. In this written piece, I’ll describe in brief some of the concepts on the map illustrated below about the mechanical reprographic print environment, and I hope that the information shared reveals why you should entrust your colour management needs to our team.

Colour Specification and Brand Engagement:

In the commercial CMYK print environment you might be familiar with ISO conformance (PSO) or G7 protocols for print process control. Process control realises higher quality print and cost savings through efficiency. You get a faster make ready and you get a better chance of return business from your customers. Our team can help you with PSO and G7 processes, and we partner with Colour Head for full on site services in PSO and G7 process control certification.

In the spot colour environment, the action of choosing a Pantone spot colour is in fact specifying what you want the print maker to do. Unfortunately, the potential exists where the colour is considered a digital specification rather than an ink formulation, and the bridge book is not so well understood; to the point that it can cause misplaced expectations. X-Rite acquired Pantone with the intention of taking basic colour guides for offset print conditions and developing these further to create a library of substrate and print condition dependant spot colour standards: X-Rite call it PantoneLive. Why is this important? … As an example, the brand may be delivering pet food that includes both offset printed cartons, and flexographic printed bags. These are very different Print Conditions (PC) that use different inks and printing technologies. We see a lot of people using ISO Coated v2 as a proxy PC along with a set of nominated Pantone colours, without much more effort. This would be fine if the job were printing to a sheet-fed offset press conforming to ISO Coated v2 and associated Spot colour inks only; but its next to irrelevant for the Flexographic print process.

The Flexo job would need its own set of prepress optimisations for both the print condition, and the spot colours. GMG’s OpenColor is the go-to toolset for this type of work. It takes custom Print Condition data and quickly creates proof profiles including specials within the profile for use in GMG ColorProof, it can even make screen proofs with GMG FlexoProof. So far so good for previewing the colours, but there is also a need for high quality separations. For this part, GMG ColorPlugin can be used in Adobe Photoshop and Hybrid PackZ to create optimised separations for correct plate creation. The result is powerful process control for print, that holds true to GMG’s moto: Wherever a colour goes, it stays that colour.

Specifications needs the buy-in of the brand owner, so X-Rite have engaged directly with brands on this issue. There is no company better placed to do this: X-Rite tools facilitate a cohesive connection between colour specification and the ink formulation needed to produce a printed article as it was intended. PantoneLive, with Color iQC or ColorCert, Ink Formulation Software, and an X-Rite eXact with NetProfiler define a platform for dependable colour communications. With these tools, you can configure and maintain your print quality, analyse and create reports for your suppliers and customers, and realise better ROI in your plant. It’s a win-win-win with gains in quality, reduced cost, and customer satisfaction.

On Press Process Control:

Colour specification is intrinsically the same as process control for print. This is because the specifications are set according to the production processes. Prepress takes those specifications and uses them at the design and pre-media stages to make print ready art.

The artwork needs to be appropriated to the required print condition. Standard referred to as ISO, PSO, 3DAPv3, G7 et al are used to define CMYK colour appearance and separations. Pantone and PantoneLive are used to define spot-colours. If the print condition is not available within a standard set of available libraries, then a process controlled customised configuration needs to be made. Putting a customised print condition together involves selecting the ink for the purpose, setting ink thickness, then setting the optimised curves for the press speed needed.

The ink can be managed with X-Rite Ink Formulation Software (IFS) with an eXact Spectrodensitometer. IFS provide an intuitive process that uses the Ink Assortments from your ink vendor, to create custom colourants and optimal thickness. The quality of the formulation can be checked with X-Rite ColorQuality, Color iQC or ColorCert.

Setting the TVI compensation curves is next. In a PSO setup these are pre-set, but for a unique substrate and ink combination it is useful to use the G7 protocols. The reason is that G7 curves are set according to grey balance. We us the eXact and software tools like MeasureColor to get this setting right, although some of this can be achieved from within an eXact Advanced on-board PSO and G7 apps too. The reporting can be handled by Color iQC or ColorCert.

For offset printing, a lack of uniformity can cause significant quality issues and losses of production time due to extended make readies that escalate costs and potentially loses customers. The plate setter may provide CIP3 pre-setting, but does your press performance reflect the assumptions that are factored by the plate setter RIP? The way to manage it is to use the closed loop colour system. We use the X-Rite Intellitrax 2 to measure the control strips with Rutherford Graphics Products’ IntelliLoop and IntelliSet to manage this automatically. The Rutherford system goes well beyond cheaper competing products with its elegant and deeply integrated engineering. The system learns the unique characteristics and condition of your press to very granular detail. This includes individual duct curves for throttling ink flow, sweep control, and separate “attitude” settings for the aggressiveness of make ready and press condition learning. The “attitude” control allows the operator to balance on the fly calibration against the need to identify items that require maintenance. The IntelliSet software receives the CIP3 data or TIFF and it applies optimisation to the press based on what it has learned. The result is make ready to the Go Sheet in blindingly fast time (that drives profitability up!). The IntelliLoop with the IntelliTrax takes it further by enabling on the fly measurement of the press sheet to keep everything on cruise control. This allows the lead press operators to set the system up, and trust that the system will assist their team to produce constant quality on every shift. This level of control ensures that it you need to load balance jobs across different presses, you will get the same results. The ROI advantage is huge, so make sure to ask us for an audit of your systems.

When the print condition is set, and repeatability can be effectively maintained, it is then possible to print a test chart to capture its colour characterisation to create profiles for use in prepress.

Prepress and Predicting Outcome:

With a print condition in hand, the ICC profile for definition of colour and separation profiles can be made for use in Adobe products. This information can also be used to make GMG mx device link profiles for use in GMG ColorProof and FlexoProof. It is ideal if M1 measurements were used during the characterisation, because you need to view these in a matching ISO standard GTI Viewing Booth. This makes a visual assessment of the job with the proof appropriate because the illumination will match what was used in the Spectrophotometer.

The press characterisation can also be used in GMG ColorServer with InkOptimiser. GMG ColorServer offers more stable colour transformations that ICC based methods even with challenging documents. GMG ColorServer can be employed with pre-set standard profiles, or you can make your own. It can be used for upstream purposes such as automated RGB to CMYK conversions, or it can be used at the end of the plate-making stage with colour TIFF files through the InkOptimiser option to save up to 25% off your ink bill and improve grey balance. It is completely configurable. GMG ColorServer can also be had with digital tools so that you can use its superior colour handling in your large format or digital print environment. Alternatively, GMG offer ColorPlugin that enables ColorServer type functions within Adobe Photoshop.

For proofing, the ideal printer is an aqueous ink Epson graphics printer. The current generation featuring accurate and reliable PrecisionCore print heads and new ink formulas give greater gamut and darker shadows. When used with our GMG ColorProof and FlexoProof, we can access the Epson printers fine tonal resolution to make it match the press characterisations precisely. It’s easy to match a GMG system if all you want is a one-off setup for basic CMYK, but if you need repeatability and spots, and you also need to have the same result printing all over the world over a three or five-year capital amortisation period, then you have no option other than GMG. Combine GMG with a compatible Epson SureColor P series with an integrated Spectroproofer and you have a robotised self-calibrating and self-validating proofing system; It can even be connected to GMG CoZone for centralised web reporting.

For multicolour overprints, GMG offer OpenColor that is the most modern colour profiling suite. It creates profiles that can be used in GMG ColorProof and FlexoProof, and it can even host dynamic profiling. The Dynamic profiling is handy when the press characterisation was captured with a limited sample set. For example, the sample was captured with K,C,M,Y,RED,BLUE but the SKU that needs to be proofed is K,C,M,Y,RED,GREEN: OpenColor can be configured to deal with this by holding the entire Pantone Coated Library so that it can create a profile on demand for proofing. The other challenge with custom separation is the ability to prepare the images to work optimally in print. GMG ColorPlugin has versions that connect to OpenColor that ensure that images are separated beautifully even within a selection area in an image!

GMG’s suite of colour tools is sought after for their reputation of delivering the finest standards in colour management. They are the benchmark to which all others are compared. “GMG” is the definition of quality, and Kayell has been privileged to be GMG’s continuous partner since they entered the Australian market in 2005. It’s simply the best, but don’t take our word for it, we make evaluations available for qualified sales prospects.

Measurement, Reporting and Analytics:

This section ties the whole Colour Reprographic Eco-System together. An X-Rite eXact or EyeOne with the right software allows you to measure and analyse your processes. This analysis can be used for maintenance and refinement of your operation, creation of profiles, and it can also be used to report validation to quality criteria back to management and even the customer. The validation to quality criteria is also a powerful tool in cases of dispute.

Essentially the measurements and reporting for process controls use X-Rite ColorCert and Color iQC. For Proof validation GMG use ProofControl. Each can produce either detailed or summary reports that are used to communicate colour.

Kayell Australia at PacPrint:

Our team is available to demonstrate GMG technologies during PacPrint. Philippe Jacquet form Rutherford will be attending with demonstrations of IntelliSet and IntelliLoop with an X-Rite IntelliTrax2. Patsy Hui from X-Rite Applications Support will be there to assist with technical discussions. Bob McCurdy from GTI Graphic Light will be dropping in to spend some time at the show to help with ISO lighting needs.

In closing, we are pleased let you know Kayell Australia has achieved X-Rite Advanced Certified Partner Program status. This was done through training and assessment in Singapore during April this year for its resellers. Kayell’s colour capabilities have been recognised by X-Rite as an Advanced Colour Services Partner for Imaging & Media. The Advanced status reflects the workflow and integration capabilities that are discussed in this document, and applied with Color iQC and ColorCert, then realised through the Pantone Certified Printer Program.

I hope that this article puts a solid case forward to why you should be talking to us at Kayell Australia. What’s it worth to your business? Get in touch.


Theo Eleftheriades, 

National Operations Manager,  Sales & Technical Services, Graphic Arts & Print Markets.