Colour management and industrial wide format printing

Written by Dorin Pitigoi on 20 April 2015.

Dorin Pitigoi Colour  Standardisation expertDorin Pitigoi is a colour and standardisation expert who for some 18 years has been providing training, support and expert opinion on issues related to colour management, printing processes control and related metrology, quality control, assurance and standardisation. He will be taking part in several speaking events at FESPA 2015 and here he discusses colour management and industrial print.

The boundaries of the industrial world still seem quite blurred from a print perspective: leading print manufacturers and print service providers tend to have different views about the extent of the industrial market and its different segments. What does industrial print mean to you?

Industrial print is a broad term defining everything that implies the application of ink on substrates to create printed items that can be used in an industrial capacity. It is a dynamic and potentially rich area that opens up new opportunities for print service providers (PSPs) to extend their range of applications and approach niche sectors.

In the industrial landscape, it is important that a minimum set of parameters are agreed to define the visual characteristics and technical properties that the end product may have. ISO/PDTS 15311-1 identifies a number of metrics that can be applied to print materials. However, research is ongoing and is expected that new metrics will emerge, while existing ones might be revised.

Once these specifications will be tested and agreed as standards, commercial printing, large format print, textile, ceramic and other vertical industrial sectors may take advantage of them; manufacturers, print service providers and brand owners will have a common set of ‘rules’ to relate to as official.
Colour management is often underrated in the print production process. What impact does the lack of consistent and accurate colours have on an industrial production environment?

Quality control is pivotal for an extensive and diversified series of applications, ranging from textile and interior decorations to packaging, where colour reproduction is particularly critical when reproducing branded materials. Advertising campaigns may contain conventional and digitally printed items produced on various printing substrates and brand colours need to be accurately reproduced. Matching conventional spot colour based process with a digital one, which is CMYK driven, implies dedicated colour management tools and settings.

Objective colour standards need to be implemented to ensure quality and process control throughout the production environment. Fogra Process Standard Digital (PSD) is increasingly important to achieve consistent quality results printing with conventional and digital technologies on a wide range of substrates from different locations.

Print service providers who have integrated different technologies and workflow face the major challenge to guarantee accurate colour reproduction, whatever device they are using. In order to make the most of each machine by implementing an efficient production environment and allocating the work across different platforms, it is fundamental to have some expertise in colour management and know how to benefit from its related tools.

Are print service providers today more knowledgeable about colour management and keen to implement processes to ensure standard colour reproduction?

The number if PSPs interested in colour management is gradually increasing, but not at the pace and level required by an extremely demanding and competitive industry. Many printers still underestimate the importance of allocating time and financial resources to create a set of media which is tested and optimised to work in conjunction with a specific device - they don’t realise that providing customers with the most accurate and high-standard application ultimately will pay back. Perfectly ‘tuned’ colour management reduces ink consumption, improves quality and raises productivity thanks to increased speed and the capability to minimise remakes, as accurate colour reproduction reduces chances for errors.

Dorin Pitigoi, will be speaking at FESPA 2015 in the Education Hub (Hall 8, Stand B90) on Wednesday 20 May at 3pm in the session titled ‘Fogra specification for system and pocess check for large format printing applications - between market necessity and technical opportunity for printers, print buyers, printing systems and substrate manufacturers’.

You can also catch him in the Education Hub on Thursday 21 May at 4pm when he will talk about ‘Colour challenges in signage printing on non-paper like substrates - measuring, profiling and viewing to correlate colour perception with colour measurements’.

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