Home' FLEXO Magazine : February 2017 Contents 30 FLEXO | FEBRUARY 2017
In my experience, our customers run their flexo and digital presses in
two, independent color spaces—and they typically don’t have the tech-
nology or experience needed to influence the color of both processes
to the same color standard.
FLEXO: Should a printer calibrate a digital press to match a
flexographic press, or vice versa?
Pavett: What we’ve found works best is to select a reasonable color
standard, then use technology to influence both the flexo and digital
presses to that same standard. We may also use advanced highlight
screening to soften the fades to zero in the art prepared for flexo
print (to emulate digital print), and may bump the highlights in the
art prepared for digital print (to emulate flexographic print). How
we prepare the files depends on the operator’s experience level, press
equipment, available anilox rolls, ink type and the art.
FLEXO: When it comes to color matching, what are digital’s strengths
and weaknesses? What about flexography’s?
Pavett: Our customers with digital presses can adjust colors very
quickly, without the need—this is hard for me to say as a plate mak-
er—for plates. One weakness I see is that all spot colors are built out
of process, even if the press’ gamut can’t support an accurate match to
the color standard. Also, digital presses require more frequent calibra-
tion; they aren’t as color stable as flexo machines. We have linearized
and profiled a quality UV inkjet press and the color has shifted out of
visual acceptance within a short period of time. That said, with good
process controls, this instability is easily overcome.
Changing color on a flexo press requires either press side ink toning,
anilox roll and/or plate changes—and these cost money, cause down-
time and increase waste. The strength is that once a fingerprint and
profile are established for a flexo press, the halftone portion of the job
remains stable (provided materials and process also remain stable).
We have a very high quality packaging printer accurately “matching”
proofs with curves and a
profile created in 2013.
FLEXO: What does a
printer need to be able
to color match digital
and flexographic print?
Is there a large upfront
cost or intensive training
Pavett: My answer
depends on how much
money a printer wants to spend and how much of the process it wants
to manage/have control over. Once the presses have been calibrat-
ed, the printer can, itself or with assistance, set up an automated
workflow, changing the files on the fly and presenting those files for
output for either digital presses, plates supplied by a premedia service
provider or its own in house plates.
FLEXO: How often do the presses need to be recalibrated to keep in
sync? Will a printer need to factor it into their workflow for every job?
Pavett: Our customers currently don’t use a color database to manage
their pressrooms. So, I don’t have access to data to accurately support
an answer. Experientially, I can say digital presses move out of calibra-
tion more quickly, but the color of both flexo and digital presses needs
to be controlled on every job.
FLEXO: Is the match between prints done visually or with a
Pavett: Color management technology uses a spectrophotometer for
inputting color data for both flexo and digital presses. Also, I believe
it’s best to use a spectrophotometer to control the color for both flexo
and digital processes. I’ve learned that going exclusively “by the num-
bers” without reviewing a visual standard has gotten me into trouble
before. So, I believe using both a visual standard and measuring with a
spectrophotometer are necessary.
FLEXO: What is the most common difficulty you see printers who are
matching their presses running into?
Pavett: In my experience, printers need access to more advanced
technology and support to improve the efficiency of this “matching”
process. Without the tech, you can do it manually—but it’s not the
most efficient way to run a pressroom. I see too many printers using
their digital presses to press proof, and adjusting color on press or in
the file to achieve a desired result. Just know that there’s a better way, if
you’re open to it. n
“In my experience, printers
need access to more advanced
technology and support to improve
the efficiency of this ‘matching’
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