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FLEXO Magazine : May 2009
TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES Spot colors are becoming more and more advanced in the marketplace. Communicating Spot Color By Jay Sperry including many screens, vignettes, and overprints, predictability of spot color reproduction is becoming an increasingly valuable asset. The printing industry has long relied on color guides, such as the Pantone Matching System (PMS), to help identify color expectations with customers, marketers, and graphic designers. Although existing color guide systems have many advantages, they often collapse in contract package proofi ng and print prediction systems. This article provides a framework for improved spot color management by fi rst reviewing CMYK process color management and relating spot color workfl ow based on existing infrastructure. It will discuss color standards and quantitative defi nitions, followed by a presentation of current research at Clemson University exploring substrate and pigment profi les as well as spot color proofi ng workfl ows. Lastly, a review of existing procedures and suggestions for getting started today improving spot color communication and management will be provided. T he fl exographic printing community more, often than not, incorporates spot colors in the printing workfl ow. As spot color separations continue to become more complex, CMYK COLOR MANAGEMENT Let’s quickly review how ICC profi les are used today by many fl exographic printers for managing CMYK color reproduction. A defi ned ink set, traditionally CMYK, is defi ned and standardized for a consistent supply chain. Flexographic plates are prepared to a known set of curves and specifi cations. These plates are run on a fl exographic press on identifi ed substrates under documented pressroom conditions. A set of known CMYK test swatches is reproduced throughout this defi ned printing workfl ow, and these targets are measured with a spectrophotometer to record color information. This series of color measurements creates a look-up table for converting CMYK artwork of a known source color space to the destination of the printer or press. This is enabled by workfl ows that have grown to utilize a standardized fi le format, ICC profi les, to correct for color diff erences across substrates and printing systems. Some quick limitations are discovered when applying a similar workfl ow for spot color management. Package printers use many spot colors, and to “print test” any color that is intended to be used in production is an ineffi cient use of resources. Furthermore, incorporation of the color measurement fi le into multiple workfl ow systems is non-existent outside of some proprietary products. www. f le xography. org MAY 2009 FLEXO 31