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FLEXO Magazine : August 2009
TECHNOLOgIEs & TECHNIQuEs expanded gamut and the Tipping Point the Rules Must Change By Mark samworth This article is taken from the presentation of the same name given at the 2009 FFTA Annual Forum by Al Bowers of RR Donnelley and Mark Samworth of EskoArtwork. also been many articles talking about the business motives of brand owners as it relates to packaging. So, let’s get past the obvious need for brand owners to meet profi t goals and time to market. This article will discuss a variation on the theme, and present an interesting way to look at expanded gamut. It’s the tipping point. Malcolm Gladwell authored a book titled, ‘The Tipping T Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.” In it, he explained how new technologies that are adopted in certain markets do not grow linearly. It takes some time for market innovators to test the technology. From there, “epidemic” growth can tip market acceptance, and everyone adapts and uses the new technology. It got me to think where current market acceptance is for expanded gamut printing, and when it would tip. As we all know, expanded gamut printing utilizes process inks beyond CMYK, eliminating the need for spots. It can intensify process color, streamline operations by eliminating long makeready times and allowing jobs to be ganged up, and enable new graphics. By eliminating spots in decks fi ve, six, and seven, costs are reduced. If a printer can get benefi ts of additional chroma on an image, why hasn’t expanded gamut tipped? In some cases, it has. Many of the larger snack food brands are already printed with extended gamut; but this is still perhaps only 10 percent of all packaging. The remainder, 90 percent, is still printing with CMYK plus spot colors. When will we reach the tipping point? I believe three things need to happen for expanded gamut printing to reach the tipping point. First, we need to improve spot color accuracy. Second, we need to improve proofi ng for extended gamut. Third, and most important, we need to change the rules, in general, about how we assess the total quality of the package. iMPrOVe accUracY Take a Pantone swatch and look at spots and their extend- ed, process color counterparts. It is more diffi cult to reproduce spot colors than images. The reasons are quite evident: Tints vary more than solid colors. Every press has differ- ent gains. It’s pretty easy to understand that the only change to a solid will be the thickness of ink on that solid. However, a 24 F LEXO figUre 2. select spot colors from the images in Figure 1. the mind should perceive the color difference in these images more readily than in Figure 1. Augus t 20 0 9 www. f l e x o g r a p h y. o r g here have been volumes of articles espousing the virtues of adding colors on press to cyan, magenta and yellow, such as orange, green and blue. There have tint will change not only in thickness, but also in the size of the halftone dots (print gain). Thus, if you print a solid tint built of halftone dots and a pure solid, you will fi nd that on the same press, the ∆E of the solid will be much less than that of the solid built from tints. Multi-color builds vary more than single color-builds. What’s the best way to build a midtone grey with CMYK? Simple—a black ink tint. The toughest is a CMY build. I conducted a controlled experiment, with a random curve created figUre 1. two different process images with a wide difference in ∆E.