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Focus On

Colour Management Software

Colour management software has been given a new lease of life in today’s visual world. Jo Golding finds out what software is available and how it can help print companies stand out

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In the modern world where visual appeal is crucial, it is more important than ever to be able to replicate a colour accurately during printing

A revitalised industry

Did you know the colour of the year is called ‘Greenery’? This is according to the world-renowned authority on colour, Pantone. The yellow-green shade is described by the company as a “refreshing and revitalising shade” that is “symbolic of new beginnings”. I cannot help but feel the colour reflects the current mood; the demand for environmentally-friendly products, greenery in our personal and work spaces, and even our food and drink—think of the ever so popular Matcha tea.

This is why it is more important than ever to be able to replicate a colour accurately. It is essential for brands to know that the exact colour they want will be the exact colour they get at the end of the printing process, and that is where colour management software comes in.

Craig Bretherton, product and marketing manager of Koenig and Bauer UK, explains: “Koenig and Bauer (our new name) Rapida presses can be specified with the highest levels of colour measurement and management equipment alongside software to reduce makeready waste to just a few sheets. In designing our colour control systems, 100 percent compliance with the specifications of all the global colour standards was at the forefront of our minds.

In designing our colour control systems, 100 percent compliance with the specifications of all the global colour standards was at the forefront of our minds

“Our Ergo Tronic Console is the calibration system for the inline colour control systems and hosts the colour library for the press. This allows measurements to take place under I.S.O. 12647-2 standard conditions; a dry sheet on black backing which are fundamental requirements of the I.S.O. 12647-2 standard. These conditions are not met inside presses. This is why we perform all quality assessments on the desk and process control inside the press as described in the I.S.O. 12647-2 document.

Blackmore Group invested in a KBA Rapida 105 LED UV four-colour press in 2015, alongside Quali Tronic inline colour control and Quality Pass software

“In its basic mode of operation the Ergo Tronic Colour Control Console can be specified to work with both density and CIE lab values from a scanning head which reads a colour bar on the sheet automatically and updates the press ink key values to match the targets set from the colour data base or cxf files imported onto the press. The Ergo Tronic Console can have additional options added to it such as Quality Pass (I.S.O. 12647-2 scoring and reporting software) and Instrument Flight grey balance control (the ultimate in colour control systems).

“In recent times, all of the presses that we have sold to the high-performance market have been equipped with Quali Tronic Color Control; Koenig and Bauer’s inline colour measurement system which measures the colour from a full colour bar on every sheet and then updates the ink key values every tenth sheet. This system is proven to reduce makeready waste by around 60 percent compared to offline systems.”

Bretherton highlights that while printers may have achieved acceptable colour, they may have done it with a great deal of waste. He continues: “The biggest cost in the printing process for most printers is paper and every printer hates to waste paper. In addition, with the demand for ever shorter turnaround times spending extended periods of time on press passing can really throw delivery schedules out for the following jobs.

Quality Pass from KBA provides extensive reports on the quality and consistency of print produced and provides a score as a percentage against the required fields of the I.S.O. 12647-2 standard

“A robust colour management policy will save many thousands of pounds in time and waste materials as the outcome is predictable because guess work and opinion is removed from the process.”

Bretherton concludes: “Koenig and Bauer’s Quality Pass software is integrated into the press and will automatically save the colour data and give a percentage score against the criteria of the I.S.O. 12647-2 standard for every job when the job is loaded up. This is done as part of the installation process and we generally spend half a day educating the teams on how it works. Koenig and Bauer are also members of the BPIF I.S.O. 12647-2 scheme steering committee, so if a company wishes to go for the full truly independently audited colour management accreditation we are well placed to help them achieve this.”

Can you repeat that?

GMG Color’s sales manager, Ian Probert, explains what the company offers: “Using the unique GMG MX Technology scores huge advantages over ICC-based RIP platforms and solutions, which in turn gives several benefits when aiming for repeatability and neutral grey balance along with the ability to manage colour across multiple devices and technologies to give the same colour output.

“Remote proofing is included as standard with every single GMG Color Proof system, which in simple terms means that any GMG user could proof to any other GMG system around the world. The MX Technology ensures that the Epson device is calibrated at the remote site ensuring consistent reproduction of the proofs.

“Open Color is the latest to join the GMG family of products using award-winning technology based on our own Spectral Prediction Engine, using CXF data GMG can accurately predict the tonal breakdown for any given spot/process colour, whilst also having the ability to apply custom substrate colours and also apply the sequence of print with specialist finishing effects, such as high gloss. This gives the user the chance to make judgements way up stream rather than seeing the printed result and facing a potential re-print.”

GMG Color Plugin Technology sits within the CS Suite Adobe Photoshop, which utilises the MX Technology, yet at a desktop rather than server level. Probert says this allows operators to save hours on retouching from Press Colorspace trying to match ISO coated, for example.

Probert goes on to say that repeatable and consistent print is crucial for printers and being able to control the design to print process with measurable points is key for an efficient process. He continues: “From pre-press to on-press or measuring the printed results, GMG have a solution to fit any business with the technical team both field-based and with GMG UK HQ to support any product sold.”

To make it user-friendly, GMG Color has enabled XML/JDF capability within its portfolio, while also partnering with key integrators such as Crisp Digital. Integration is now possible into all major workflow solutions such as Agfa, Kodak, Dalim, Fuji, and Enfocus Switch.

Probert adds: “Simplicity is key to any colour management solution, with this often seen as a ‘dark art’. GMG make the process very transparent and simple meaning that new members of staff can very easily become part of the colour process for creating or measuring colour standards. Most GMG installs will ROI themselves within six to twelve months, making the move for any business a no brainer to partner with a forward thing customer centric company.”

Bryan Manwaring, director of product marketing at Onyx Graphics, says it is “the only company with a colour engine designed specifically for wide-format and grand-format printing which we own and develop in-house.” He continues: “We have a staff of colour scientists, one of whom is co-chair of the ICC, which gives us the ability to innovate and influence standards around the globe.

Manwaring of Onyx Graphics says its latest version, Onyx 12.2, has set industry wide benchmark RIP and data transfer speeds

“Our Onyx Color colour engine is integrated into all our software solutions, including Onyx Thrive, Production House, Poster Shop, and RIP Center. Onyx Color provides the tools needed to build colour profiles for all ink and media types and maintain consistent output across devices over time. It incorporates a number of unique controls for balancing colours while maintaining colour saturation, as well as supporting CMYK, extended, and specialty inks across applications.

“Additional core capabilities of Onyx Color include being able to control ink channels, so that there are ink savings without sacrificing output quality. We also have the integrated ability to simulate outputs to match Fogra and G7. This is particularly helpful for print-service-providers concerned with hitting corporate colours across devices to print predictably and reliably, first time.”

Manwaring says Onyx’s latest version, Onyx 12.2, has set industry wide benchmark RIP and data transfer speeds. He adds: “By combining our colour engine with our powerful site solutions, print-service-providers feel confident meeting their customers’ needs. Onyx 12.2 also offers full support for the Konica Minolta Autoscan Spectrophotometer FD-9 colour device, one of over 2,000 devices supported by Onyx software, with fast and flexible fully automated chart reading to improve print workflow and productivity, designed for colour management and large industrial print shops.”

Manwaring ensures that it could not be easier to get set up, no matter the size of your print shop. He adds: “Onyx software has minimal set up time to help users start experiencing benefits out of the box. We also have the ability to connect to existing business tools through Onyx Connect (just one of our site solution tools), further automating print workflows.”

Join the club

Next, well-established printing press manufacturer Heidelberg offers ISO 12647-2:2013 colour certification, with those who secure this standard joining the Heidelberg Colour Club. Paul Chamberlain, product executive, says: “There are currently 26 members and four have three-star Elite Membership (Hampton Printing, PBL, Stephens and George, and Sterling). These companies have attained the certification and renewed annually for three successive years.

Manwaring of Onyx Graphics says its latest version, Onyx 12.2, has set industry wide benchmark RIP and data transfer speeds

“Heidelberg offers colour consultancy regionally, although test sheets are shipped to Germany for objective analysis and only if they are deemed to have reached the standard is the ISO certification awarded. Heidelberg provides colour measurement and calibration software, spectral measurement devices, and digital workflows, making colour control much easier.”

Superior Creative was the first company to attain certification using an LE-UV press (Speedmaster XL 106-5+L LE-UV). Stewart Powell, production director, says: “I think it was easier to achieve ISO12647-2 with this press because there was no dry back to consider; sheets come off completely dry from the press and so they could be tested immediately.

“Two Heidelberg specialists attended to benchmark the press and to oversee the evaluation. We wanted to have colour certification for our own peace of mind but also because some clients require ISO12647-2 as a prerequisite to placing work.”

Ensuring colour excellence on the Speedmaster XL 75-5+L from Heidelberg

Print Factory provides a portfolio of cloud-based workflow management tools to the wide-format print sector. Its smart profile creation enables commercial printers to achieve consistent high-quality colour reproduction while delivering average ink savings of 20 percent.

Print Factory’s intelligent device recalibration and dedicated colour profiles ensure printer consistency across a range of different devices, meaning that colour reproduction remains sharp and identical.

The company highlights how typically, 35 percent of the time on a print job is spent getting ‘print-ready’ and 20 percent on colour management. Print Factory’s job preparation productivity features integrate automation and colour management into one set of tools that guarantees printer consistency, colour consistency, and job quality.

These time savings could allow an operator to achieve two to five more jobs during the same period.

Print Factory’s chief executive officer, Erik Strik, adds: “Guaranteeing consistency of colour reproduction across devices and substrates has always been a challenge in our sector, but it need not be. We have been evolving the Print Factory software for decades to simplify the large-format print process with the upshot of making it more profitable. Now we have reached a point where consistent colour reproduction is not only possible but can be fully automated, freeing up expensive assets and resource and, moreover, reducing the risk of human error.”

Now we have reached a point where consistent colour reproduction is not only possible but can be fully automated, freeing up expensive assets and resource and, moreover, reducing the risk of human error

Improve your flexibility

Lastly, I spoke to Ultima Displays, a company that operates using a Pantone colour chart. Managing director, Osvaldo Gallio, says: “The Pantone colour chart as everyone knows, keeps the colour of a brand consistent. By specifying the Pantone colour when issuing the design file or design brief to a preferred printer, you are preserving your desired colour.

“Ultima Displays recognises the industry standard for colour expectation as all our RIP software is calibrated and incorporates Pantone spot colour matching. We utilise the Barbieri Spectro Pad (a process control device for digital presses) which is a fantastic tool to keep the digital printing process under control. Within seconds, our operators can check colour accuracy, colour repeatability, and spot colours.

“Ultima Displays can store colour libraries as well as create and recall custom spot colour libraries, making us extremely flexible and versatile. We comply to industry standards utilising Fogra 39 as our default output profile and offer a hard proof service to ensure our clients understand colour output on a varied range of material and how different print processes can affect the result.”

So, with a range of benefits such as reducing makeready waste and ink savings, colour management software could be just the boost your business needs.

Ensuring high customer satisfaction

Saskia Heller, manager corporate communications of EFI GmbH, explains how colour management improves colour quality in high-speed inkjet printing.

For print operations considering switching to high-speed inkjet printing, expanding an existing fleet, or moving from black-and-white to colour, digital colour management provides the tools to satisfy customers with accurate and consistent colour on various media across different presses.

O Factoid: In 1963, Pantone founder Lawrence Herbert created an innovative system for identifying, matching, and communicating colours. This led to the invention of the Pantone Matching System, a book of standardised colour in fan format. O

With the wide range of quality options colour management offers, shops can print to the specific quality needs and budget of an individual customer. Even when printing under a tight budget, print operations can still use tools to make the most of the colour and appearance for higher customer satisfaction.

When a print operation migrates from offset to high-speed inkjet, many factors that affect output quality are different. For inkjet production, there is no longer the need for plates, ink mixing, or the need for operator skills to manually adjust colour on the press. High-speed inkjet presses with an integrated colour management system provide:

  • Exceptional colour quality out-of-the-box
  • Easy-to-use tools that allow press operators to perform colour management
  • Expanded press colour gamut providing the ability to match brand colours without specialty inks
  • The ability to match colours across presses and substrates
  • The ability to reduce rework by printing one copy to verify colour accuracy before printing the entire job

To get the most out of a Fiery Driven high-speed inkjet press, add a complete, fully integrated colour management system such as Fiery Color Profiler Suite. This gives operators the capability to successfully match colour to a specific colour reference, and to maintain the match throughout the print run. In addition, the software includes expert-level tools to generate best-in-class device link profiles to link source and destination profiles and manipulate them as a single entity to improve the accuracy of colour matching.

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