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FLEXO Magazine : November 2013
Where spot colors are concerned—and that’s often—a key consideration is product- or brand-specific color palettes. Here, the Pantone book remains the default reference for spot color, and in practice, “color management” is often a mix of gut feel, operator experience and the somewhat inconsistent use of measurement tools and samples of uncontrolled origin. This mix is representing the standard where the Pantone guide is unavailable or not specified in the first instance. When trying to map color management processes in many packaging supply chains today, the picture is pretty chaotic, with inter-communication going in many directions, and often around in loops of approval and re-approval. It’s a recipe for error, inefficiency and excess cost. eXACT SPeCiFiCATionS Of course, there are readily available software tools for color management, but the challenge remains that they are often deployed inconsistently by individual links in the supply chain, looking more like disconnected islands of solutions than an industry standard reference. What is more, they may be supplied by small entrepreneur- ial software developers with good technical credentials, but without the infrastructure and expertise to support the deploy- ment of products across large global companies and multiple disciplines (design, prepress, converter, etc.). While color management software might remedy the problem at one site, it fails to address the true issue. In order to take the guesswork out of color in packaging, every par- ticipant in the supply chain must be working from the same, scientific point of reference: the spectral data of a color. Happily, there is a remedy for the chaos and the prize is worth having. Far greater efficiency, streamlined product delivery, and optimal color accuracy and consistency across different packaging types, and from country to country. Color is not subjective: Every color that can be printed can also be measured, and its characteristics stored as a spectral curve that acts as the “DNA” of the color and serves as an exact specification for further reproduction. There is a supporting system that enables printers to reproduce any color as faithfully and efficiently as possible, whether on paper, board, film, plastic or any other substrate that can be thought of. HiT THe LibrArY The key for such a system is to develop multiple libraries of colors that cover the majority of substrates used in the pack- aging industry, including corrugated kraft, transparent and white films, laminated films, carton board, paper and labels. These libraries can capture the spectral curves of any color on the relevant substrate—from a physical print—and hold it in a database in the cloud. It can be referenced at each step of the packaging workflow when a brand owner needs to reproduce that color. The additional key enabler is a digital color communication tool that can link every part of the packaging workflow and share this color “DNA” with every participant. The brand owner specifies the right color digitally. The designer creates the design file using that exact same color signature. Prepress adapts the file to the specific printer configuration based on that same color spectral curve. The ink manufacturer matches spectrally the right ink to that digital color specification. The printer ultimately reproduces the color on the final product. He/she con- trols color quality by comparing directly to the original color spectral curves, as specified by the brand owner. This closes the loop for a seamless color approval. digiTAL LogiC Such a system allows everyone to work from the precise and unique color definition stored on the cloud. It enables users to operate seamlessly in a fully digital workflow to produce colors that will match the original specifications established from real colors on real substrates. This tool has the scope to remove the margin for error in color reproduction from one packaging material to another. It will bring about far greater consistency through brand families and across multiple territories where substrates are often inconsistent. However, the key to true color management is to deploy this science right through a particular packaging production workflow by ensuring that all participants in the process are working, communicating and ultimately printing with the same color data. This type of solution completely over- turns old color management practices by delivering significant, quantifiable improvements for brand owner and suppliers alike. Total color management in packag- ing is no longer the elusive Holy Grail— the data and the systems that make it a reality are already here. The packaging supply chain has actively embraced the potential of digi- tal technology in so many other areas of the workflow, but color somehow remains a magical element which too many packaging printers still prefer to leave to visual evaluation by “experts”— with a heavy cost to all parties. By applying logic and science to the magic, digital color management can give the power to answer the prayers of brand owners. n About the Author: Patrice Aurenty is the business leader for color management at Sun Chemical. He can be reached at +33-676-45-6085 or by email at patrice. email@example.com. Sun Chemical is the preferred partner for ink supply and a key contributor to the PantoneLIVE technol- ogy, a cloud-based color management solution from X-Rite/Pantone that enables brand owners to accurately communicate colors across a packaging supply chain. CLOud-based PaCkaGe deVeLOPmenT • Brand Owners specify the right color digitally • Designers create the art file using that exact same color signature • Prepress Technicians adapt the file to the specific printer configuration based on that same color spectral curve • Ink Manufacturers match spectrally the right ink to that digital color specification • Printers ultimately reproduce the color on the final product and control color quality by comparing directly to the original color spectral curves, as specified by the brand owner • Everyone works from the precise and unique color definition stored on the cloud An example of a typical color management color palette www.flexography.org NOVEMbEr 2013 FLeXO 39 38 FLeXO NOVEMbEr 2013 www.flexography.org See what we’ve engineered at rotoflex.com LEADERS BY DESIGN The experience of over 7,000 installations has taught us that precision engineering and true partnership keep you moving forward. And that’s how you become a leader: by design. Performance. Precision. Productivity. it’s rotoflex. RF_Ad_2013_ 4.5625x7.375.indd 1 9/6/13 9:15 AM