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FLEXO Magazine : June2010
Technologies & Techniques 46 FLeXO june 2010 www.flexography.org Proofing for Flexo and Packaging With Multi-color Profiles By Ron ellis Inkjet proofing has become the standard method of providing proofs in offset and other markets. However, inkjet has seen much lower adoption in the flexo market. Part of the reason for this is the flexo market’s reliance on spot color blends, rather than traditional CMYK separations. Traditional dot proofing methods and color recipes are still commonly used in flexo to accommodate custom colors and substrates. Dot proofing has practically been abandoned in the offset world, but it is because of this multi-color require- ment that inkjet proofing in flexo is less prevalent than in other print methods. Many inkjet proofing configurations in flexo are simply CMYK proofing systems that printers have adapted to work with wide gamut color spaces. Because the color space of an Epson, for example, is often close to or large enough to the gamut a plant may be using, a printer will sometimes use a wide-gamut CMYK profile. In this scenario, the printer is using the proofing RIP’s CMYK capabilities along with the RIPs spot color libraries. Using a CMYK profile and a RIP’s spot color library, rather than a multi-color profile, may be adequate, but there are compromises to using this method, particularly in that it does not accurately predict the overprints of the spot colors. The simulation of these overprints and spot blends is a major challenge. There is a method that offers the promise of better color fidelity while still maintaining a true multi-channel workflow. This method is based on using a multi-color ICC profile as well as a proofing system that supports multi-color profiles. Multi-color ICC proofing requires a multi-color ICC profile, as well as a proofing system that supports the profile. Though it sounds straightforward, multi-color ICC proofing is not as simple as using a proofing system that supports spot colors. While many proofing systems support spot colors, and even the gradation of the spot colors, only a few proofing systems fully support multi-color profiles. A multi-color ICC profile characterizes a number of spot colors. This profile not only contains the data character- izing the solids but also contains the overprints, mixes and tints of all the included colors. The multi-color ICC profile most familiar to many people is Pantone’s Hexachrome. This system is made up of cyan, magenta, yellow, black, orange and green. Many proofing systems support Hexachrome, but fewer support other combinations. A proofing system that fully supports multi-color should be able to support seven-color profiles, 10-color profiles, or other combinations of colors. A multi-color profile often contains colors that are ordered in the same sequence as the press, and may not even contain any traditional CMYK colors. When configured correctly a multi-color ICC proofing system can provide a much more accurate proof than other methods. By capturing the blends and mixtures of the spot • Many inkjet proofing configurations in flexo are simply CMYK proofing systems that printers have adapted to work with wide gamut color spaces. • A multi-color ICC profile characterizes a number of spot colors. • Although the results can be spectacular, multi-color profiling and proofing can be a difficult, complex process. • Multi-color ICC profiling is not for everyone. FLX_June2010_mech.indd 46 6/10/10 9:39 AM