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Trade Comment

Colour is key

Perfect colour is an increasingly vital concern for printers. Brendan Perring asks: “What is the potential impact of a properly run and integrated colour-management solution?”

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John Davies, business strategy and marketing manager for workflow solutions, Fujifilm Graphic Systems, Europe

Having the edge

Colour management is key to all print service providers, as in recent years we’ve seen a sharp increase in the adoption of colour standards across the industry. End-users are increasingly requiring that the print they purchase is compliant with ISO standards, and print service providers who are able to deliver on this have a competitive edge.

Whilst the importance of colour management is being realised by printers, finding the right colour management service is where the real issue lies; older products provide far too many complex tools and settings for end-users to access. This leads to printers either having to pay for consultancy services to get their colour set up correctly, or they go through the painful process just once and end up not managing their colour on a regular basis.

Whilst the importance of colour management is being realised by printers, finding the right colour management service is where the real issue lies

If printers invest time on the development of this production area, they can calibrate print equipment, ensure colour consistency, and achieve higher quality results. Ultimately, they can gain new business.

Recognising this, Fujifilm developed a powerful new cloud-based system called XMF ColorPath, designed to simplify the process of managing colour and maximise print’s value. Whether it’s calibrating production equipment, ensuring consistency across different print processes or managing production to a standard, XMF ColorPath helps the process of putting ink on paper to be more of a process driven activity and less of a skill. It incorporates a sophisticated colour engine that makes the process more efficient and much easier to manage, whether for a single print site or multiple global production hubs.

Print needs to consistently make an impact, whatever the process and wherever it is produced, with cloud-based colour management a key part of its future success.


Judd Perring, director, Oris Packaging Innovations

Lost in translation

We work in the packaging sector of the industry where brand colour management is paramount. Brand owners want consistent harmonisation of their brand colours across all substrates, applications and geographies. This enables them to successfully communicate their brand colours (equity) to consumers. Another area that can be improved is product launches. It is estimated that as much as 50 percent in rework cost can be added to every product launch due to colour getting lost in translation.

This has prompted many brand owners to start to supply their own CxF (colour exchange format) data for a given colour and percentage tints on a given substrate using a particular print process to their supply chain. Taking the guesswork out of the special colour/substrate/print process combinations reaps significant savings rewards.

CxF is the new CGATS data exchange format for spectral colour information. CxF /X4 allows tags and additional information to be stored with colour data and embedded in the new PDF 2.0 Standard (ISO 32000-2).

Brand owners want consistent harmonisation of their brand colours across all substrates, applications and geographies

Security is also critical. In order for a design agency, repro-house, or printer to be able to achieve colour accurate final printed results, colour, as well as data, must be secure. The more security, the fewer errors and re-work, and the more savings made.

PDF/X containing CxF/X metadata supplies improved solutions across the entire supply chain. A printer can use this data early in the design stage, embed it into their artwork and allow it to be used automatically by proofing devices and workflows that support this new data format.

Forward-thinking colour management companies such as CGS already have tools and full support for CxF data, including Flex Pack, which already handles CxF data, CxF Toolbox and CxF Designer Plugin for Illustrator, as such CxF data is available with the Illustrator Color Pane.


Paul Bromley, technical sales manager, GMG

Hand in hand

For any printer operating in today’s challenging environment, where profit is being driven down by ever increasing raw material cost and pressure is continually mounting due to quick turnarounds, it may appear odd that colour management and improved margins can go hand in hand. However, for some users a reduction of as little as three percent in raw material cost can return as much as £40,000 to £50,000 in increased profitability. This really is possible simply by reducing make-ready times and production wastage through delivering colour correct files to the printing devices.

In order to remain competitive the need to implement a ‘right first time’ policy is a must for any operation, as printers have to estimate jobs to the penny, allowing for minimal waste with the hope that the job is produced without error or issue. And, when it does go wrong, the need for a reprint could literally cost thousands, or worse, a client.

Choosing the right colour management system will allow a company to regain control of colour across all these print disciplines, and match these production standards

These days, being able to match colour management standards such as those defined by the ISO and FOGRA is paramount, regardless of whether you are printing on a digital, inkjet, offset press, or challenging substrates. Choosing the right colour management system will allow a company to regain control of colour across all these print disciplines, and match these production standards.

Thanks to GMG’s unique software engine, colour management is no longer laborious or a dark art. Based on all internationally recognised standards with wizard-based tools to adapt to your printing processes, our applications give printers the power to control colour with ease, and claim back some of that lost profit by reducing wastage and increasing productivity.

Process control can yield huge results for any print business as jobs process without major colour challenges, reprints will match and costs are driven down. We invite you to challenge GMG to show how we can benefit your operation by reducing production costs through improved colour management.


Mark Anderton, managing director, Colour Engine

Making an impact

In terms of impact the first thing to say is that integrated colour management touches this impassioned manufacturing process at pretty much every point in its lifespan, even in finishing, even after delivery. Smart colour management can profoundly affect the profitability of a printer’s business with more accurate file preparation in the studio delivering shorter make-readies, cost reductions, and ultimately better client retention.

Colour management expertise can also offer a key area of differentiation when approaching new customers, as the printer who has made the investment in acquiring the skills stands out a mile.

A key factor at present is the increasing variety of new and existing substrates with business trends driving down the quality in some cases. This increases the need for data files in prepress to be more accurately matched to the substrate. For example, a mismatch between the files and the substrate can lead to over-inking, resulting in a multitude of undesirable problems, namely marking, corrugation, jobs which are more difficult to finish, longer drying times, increased costs, and poor image quality in the final job.

Do we take the plunge and invest in colour management training or subcontract out these specialist management services to trusted experts?

Colour management can also have impact after publication. If a client has a query regarding the disappointing reproduction of his/her brand colour or advertisement—a reprint request or a compensation claim may drop into the printer’s in-tray. Meaningful discussions can get tricky unless colours are measured with calibrated instruments under lighting which is maintained, measured and verified strictly to ISO standards. “We’ve got D50 lighting” is no longer a response that has much credence.

So, if colour management isn’t a free lunch, the question a printer has to consider is: “Do we take the plunge and invest in colour management training or subcontract out these specialist management services to trusted experts?” In either of these scenarios Colour Engine is on hand to help.


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