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FLEXO Magazine : April 2011
Technologies & Techniques Standardized Data Sets for Expanded Color Gamut By Kristen Zeleznik Expanded gamut printing introduces three additional process color inks into the standard CMYK setup. The basic theory behind expanded gamut is to increase the pressroom color gamut and to build brand spot colors accurately and cost-effectively. Adding these additional inks allows printers to enhance vivid image reproduction, depth and contrast, at the same time that it enables traditional spot colors to be repro- duced using a standardized data set. This makes for cleaner pressrooms without the hundreds of unnecessary spot colors taking up room in storage. It also allows for several jobs to be printed within the same run regardless of which spot color is being used. The cost-saving benefits and added value pro- vided by the precise results makes expanded gamut printing a new solution to an old problem. In the 1960s, Pantone Inc. created the Pantone Matching System (PMS) and Formula Guides as a simple solution to maintain consistent color reproduction and brand identity. Pantone Formula Guides caught on quickly because of their simplicity and easy-to-use structure. The system enabled designers and printers to communicate color accurately. Though it appeared to be a clean-cut solution, PMS is limited to spot colors only and is not as effective in halftone images. In addition, the major setback for the Pantone system is that a standard four-color process can only reproduce about 45 percent of PMS colors, according to Jay Sperry, former research associate at Clemson University. Instead of running a four-color process with one or two additional spot colors, the idea is to use an expanded gamut system to take place of those job-specific spot colors. Adding red, orange, green or violet inks can increase pressroom gamut dramatically and allow printers to gang jobs that use several contrasting brand colors. In return, this allows marketers to advertise their products in a cost-effective manner. INTRODUCTION & PURPOSE Currently, there are existing standards for CMYK provided by the International Organization for Standardization. Within the industry there are also specifications provided by General Re- quirements for Applications in Commercial Offset Lithography and Specifications for Wide Offset Publications. As expanded color gamut is incorporated into the flexographic print industry, the need for specifications and established data sets becomes clear because there are few standards or specifications thus far. The intricacy of implementing this system of printing man- dates a complete color-management infrastructure. Historically in the print industry, the more graphic com- plexity that exists in a given design, the more expensive that design is to print. Fortunately, expanded color gamut targets more complex designs. Expanded color gamut has the poten- tial to become more efficient than other systems and reduce overall packaging costs. Using an expanded gamut system allows designs to be complex and to use many spot colors. With an expanded color gamut system, a printer can add three additional pigments to CMYK to replicate previously formulated spot colors. The cost savings provided by an expanded color gamut system stems from the use of defined pigments that can reproduce an infinite number of spot col- ors. Typically, a printer will print CMYK plus several formulat- ed spot colors that are associated with a particular brand. By using an expanded color gamut system, more than one brand variation can be printed on press, which allows jobs to be ganged and printed with the same color accuracy previously possible by using job-specific spot colors. FIGURE 1: Color wheel indicating expanded RgB color space at the red, green and blue hue angles. 46 FLeXO apRil 2011 www.flexography.org More Colors, Greater Savings • By adding red, orange, green, blue or violet hues, it is possible to extend the color gamut beyond the four standard process colors. • With an expanded color gamut system, a printer can add three additional pigments to CMYK to replicate previously formulated spot colors. • Increasing the color gamut can provide both cost savings and near-accurate spot color reproduction. • For an expanded color gamut system to provide cost savings, it is necessary to define ink bases and sets. • Hue angles, chroma and compatibility with the ink- ing system are important considerations in selecting pigments for an expanded color gamut.