Colour Control

X-Rite proposes opening the XRGA standard to third parties, so that printers can exchange data between sites using different instruments, regardless of legacy affiliation.

XRGA is a standard that X-Rite implemented around two years ago to integrate its own technology with that of GretagMacbeth, PANTONE, and other entities that X-Rite acquired over the past several years. This standard aligns all X-Rite instrumentation to a single standard, regardless of the point of manufacture or date of manufacture of a product.

Through its subsidiary Pantone LLC, X-Rite’s proposed program would reduce problems that companies face when they try to exchange colour data that has been measured with different model instruments made by the same manufacturer or with instruments made by different manufacturers.

“Just about every company in the printing industry deals with this problem at one time or another,” said Stephen Miller, Market Manager of Print Solutions at X-Rite. “Unfortunately, some printers deal with this on an almost daily basis as they are trying to exchange high-quality colour measurement data to stakeholders in their supply chain.

"XRGA proved to be such an effective tool at harmonizing the colour measurement data of our own wide array of instruments that we think it's worthwhile to offer the same method to benefit the entire colour measurement industry,” continued Miller. “While X-Rite competes with a number of other respected companies in this field, we should cooperate as a industry to develop a common standard of instrument agreement to benefit all of our customers.”

XRGA incorporates ISO-13655 with other best practices in colour science methods to greatly reduce measurement variation among instruments due to different calibration standards. This means that handheld and bench-top colorimeters and spectrophotometers, formulation and quality assurance software packages and equipment, such as pressroom colour scanners, are all measuring and communicating using the same standards.

Tobias Associates has introduced the new TBX 1000 Series of transmission densitometers, which measure visual diffuse optical density (OD) to 6.00D. According to the company, this wide measuring range is unique in its ability to evaluate many types of film, laminates and substrates. 

The TBX 1500 model also calculates positive and negative dot areas, while the new top-range densitometer in the series, TBX 2000, also measures percent opacity and transmission.

“The TBX 1000 Series provides a very high degree of accuracy and precision and offers an optional colour filter for special applications,” said Bill Bender, International Sales Director, who has been with Tobias for the past 34 years. “It is very durable, requiring minimal repair or maintenance.”

Tobias has manufactured its densitometers in Ivyland, Pennsylvania, for the past 50 years.

X-Rite and Pantone have announced a new cloud-based initiative called PantoneLIVE. The service aims to provide centralized access to brand colour data. It will enter service on June 15.

Brand colour standards are the principal component to the system and are derived from real ink on real substrates using real printing processes. This allows brand owners to predict how corporate spot colours will reproduce on a variety of substrates, including brown corrugated, clear film and white polypropylene.

“Globally consistent colour standards are essential to brand identity. With supply chains made up of hundreds of different facilities scattered around the world, corporations struggle to control and maintain colour consistency,” said Dr. Sonia Megert. “PantoneLIVE is a dynamic ecosystem, open to all supply chain participants, which delivers consistent colour across the entire packaging workflow – from design concept to retail-store shelves.”

According to Pantone, one company, Chesapeake, a global producer of consumer packaging, was able to reduce colour variation by 84 percent while decreasing its stocked inks from 3,000 inks to only 537.

Sun Chemical and Esko have been named as “preferred partners” in the PantoneLIVE initiative due to their involvement in its development. Pantone assures users that any manufacturer’s ink will be able to take advantage of the system.

Access to the system will cost designers US$99, while those in pre-production and production will have to pay US$1,150 and US$2,650, respectively. A colour audit for a brand owner starts at US$4,500.

Ohio-based Color-Logic has started to ship a new visualizer tool, which enables creative-professionals and brand owners to visualize Color-Logic’s metallic and decorative effects on their designer workstations. 

The tool is based on Color-Logic’s preexisting, patent-pending Process Metallic Color System, which relies on CMYK and applying a fifth colour. It allows for the production of up to 250 different metallic colours on metallic or paper substrates when running offset, lithography, flexography, toner, inkjet or and screen printing processes.

“The Color-Logic FX-Viewer is an integral part of the basic Color-Logic software, which creates 5-colour files for printing with metallic inks or with white inks on metallic substrates,” stated Mark Geeves, Director of Sales and Marketing for Color-Logic. “Using our software, designers can both create and view the metallic look and special effects of Color-Logic files right on their desktop workstation monitors, and thus verify visually, in one easy step, how their designs will appear when printed.”

FineEye Color Solutions has released new colour separation software, called ICEit! 2.0, which is delivered as a Photoshop Plug-In. According to the company, ICEit!, designed to replace the default separation process in Photoshop., captures more of the original RGB image’s colour gamut during the CMYK conversion.

ICEit! is offered as a base product and as a professional version. With ICEit! Pro, a user can place the ICEit! separation in a Photoshop layer for colour editing. This includes separation options called Colorize, Brighten or Extreme.

ICEit! is offered as a subscription service ranging from $79 to $189 annually, which gives users access to all upgrades and support offered by FineEye Color. ICEit! supports GRACoL and SWOP industry specifications, 

Pantone has just launched a mobile application for Android smartphone users and updated its offering for Apple iOS users. myPANTONE is an application which allows designers to access Pantone's libraries and cross-reference across L*a*b, HTML and sRGB values. Users can also share colour palettes with friends via email as well as extract colours from photos taken on their phones.

“We continue to see a fundamental shift in the way designers work and smartphones are increasingly acting as portable colour studios,” said Andy Hatkoff, Vice President of Technology Licensing for Pantone. “myPANTONE for the iPhone was our first mobile application. Since its release, our Facebook community has been passionate about telling us the features they would like to see in future versions, including CMYK values and display calibration for more accurate colour representation on screen. And, as the mobile market continues to expand, requests for an Android version of myPANTONE could not be ignored.”

The app users will have access to:

  • PANTONE PLUS SERIES FORMULA GUIDE (coated and uncoated), a two-guide set consisting of 1,341 solid PANTONE colours on coated and uncoated stock with corresponding printing ink formulas for each colour;
  • PANTONE PLUS SERIES CMYK (coated and uncoated) provides a comprehensive palette of 2,868 colours achievable in four-colour (CMYK) process printing;
  • PANTONE PLUS COLOR BRIDGE (coated and uncoated) features CMYK values for all 1,341 solid PANTONE colours;
  • PANTONE PLUS PASTELS & NEONS (coated and uncoated);
  • PANTONE Goe (coated and uncoated) and PANTONE GoeBridge coated;
  • PANTONE FASHION + HOME Color System Library (paper and cotton); and
  • PANTONE FASHION + HOME nylon brights.

The Android version of myPANTONE costs US$7.99 and is available on the Android Market. myPANTONE 2.0 for iOS is available as a free upgrade for owners of the first version and is available for US$9.99 for new users.

PANTONE announced a new program which allows printers to be certified to enable accurate PANTONE Solid and Process Colour Matching throughout its production workflow, from intake and ink mixing to print production and customer handling.

"Designers rely on their chosen print provider to accurately reproduce their projects, regardless of the many variables that can affect colour reproduction," said Giovanni Marra, Director of Corporate Marketing at Pantone. "By selecting a PANTONE Certified Printer, designers can rest easy knowing the printer has an effective color reproduction process in place with all of the required tools to properly evaluate colour and ensure the best match to PANTONE colours."

The PANTONE Certified Printer Program focuses on measurement, control and communication, and audits each step of the process including prepress, press and ink. Through the use of instruments and ink formulation software, PANTONE Certified Printers can calculate the best possible match to a client's chosen substrate and set realistic expectations by providing a report that indicates how closely a designer can expect to match any given colour. Those printing to the GRACoL standard can use PANTONE Colour Numbers straight from PANTONE Guides; others can calculate the best four-colour build for their press conditions by using PANTONE COLOR MANAGER Software.

Printers can be a part of the PANTONE Certified Printer Program for US$7,850, which covers the first year of certification and a one-year PANTONE license. Additional plants can be added for $4,100. Re-certification is $6,050 per year. PANTONE says there may be additional costs for products, software and equipment calibration necessary to pass audit requirements.

X-Rite today introduced its new portfolio of i1 Professional Color Management Solutions, which is comprised of i1Basic Pro, i1Photo Pro, i1 Publish and i1Publish Pro.

i1Basic Pro is designed for high-end monitor profiling, monitor- and printing-quality verification, and spot-colour measurement. i1Basic Pro includes i1Profiler software, Pantone Color Manager software and an i1Pro spectrophotometer.

i1Photo Pro is specifically designed for users to manage their RGB workflow from camera to display and projector to print.

i1Publish (a standalone software package) and i1Publish Pro are ICC profiling solutions to organize and manage complete RGB, CMYK and CMYK+N (CMYK plus any 4) prepress workflows. The software includes new assurance validation and verification functions, such as a display QA function to check soft proofing for ISO (G7, SWOP, PSO, Japan Color) and a printer QA function to check print quality using ISO media wedges (IDEAlliance ISO Control Wedge or Fogra Media Wedge).

i1Photo Pro and i1Publish Pro include i1Profiler software, an i1Pro spectrophotometer, Pantone Color Manager software, ColorChecker Proof target, mini ColorChecker Classic target, and ColorChecker Passport camera calibration software. i1Publish includes all of the above except for the spectrophotometer.

CGS Publishing Technologies, which develops colour management solutions, introduced what the company refers to as its next-generation ORIS Press Matcher // Web, which is now shipping.

ORIS Press Matcher // Web, according to the company, has been completely redesigned and optimized for the specific requirements of all forms of "digital printing" (toner and large-format inkjet processes). The company states this new software allows companies to manage each printing process with one central colour management system based on client/server architecture.

ORIS Press Matcher // Web colormetrically aligns all presses to one common repeatable standard, whether an international standard like ISO coated V2 or GRACoL, or a customer’s own house standard.

Colour profiles for each printing environment are created by measurement using an iterative process, which allows for repeatable results. A software wizard is said to guide the user through the process in a few minutes.

ORIS Press Matcher // Web includes soft-proofing tools so that jobs can be uploaded and tracked online, then checked on a colour-accurate monitor, and ultimately released directly from within the application.

Pantone has announced the next generation of its Pantone Matching System called Pantone Plus. The system expands on its palette of spot colours, new premium metallics and neons.

“Pantone Plus takes what designers and printers know and love about the Pantone Matching System and supercharges it with a host of new features, colours and digital tools,” said Ron Potesky, Senior Vice President and general manager of Pantone. “The Plus Series provides designers with greater freedom for selecting, specifying and matching colour. And, since the Pantone Plus Series is based on the widely used Pantone Matching System, there's no training or new equipment required to start pushing the boundaries of creativity.”

Other features of this new system includes a more intuitive selection method via a chromatic arrangement of colours. Each copy of the Plus Series sold will include Pantone's Color Manager software, which allows designers to update their design applications to employ the new colour libraries and also allows users to convert spot colours to CMYK simulations based on ICC profiles. Also new is the myPANTONE iPhone applications, which lets creatives access the whole Plus Series on the go.

The company has announced that major graphic arts software and hardware vendors such as Adobe, Agfa, Canon, EFI, Epson, Esko, Heidelberg, and Xerox have signed on to support the Plus system.

The complete PANTONE PLUS SERIES includes:
    •    PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE (Solid Coated and Uncoated)
    •    PANTONE SOLID CHIPS (Coated and Uncoated)
    •    PANTONE COLOR BRIDGE® (Coated or Uncoated)
    •    PANTONE CMYK (Coated and Uncoated)
    •    PANTONE PASTELS & NEONS (Coated/Uncoated)
    •    PANTONE PASTELS & NEONS CHIPS (Coated/Uncoated)
    •    myPANTONE and X-Ref iPhone applications

Pricing for the Pantone Plus system, which is available immediately, is as below:

Product U.S. Pricing
(Solid Coated and Uncoated)
(Coated and Uncoated)
(Coated or Uncoated)
$129 or $209/set
(Coated and Uncoated)
PANTONE PASTELS & NEONS CHIPS (Coated/Uncoated) $175
PANTONE COLOR MANAGER Software Free software download with purchase, $49 value
myPANTONE and X-Ref iPhone applications Automatic upgrades for previous owners, $9.99 and $1.99 respectively for new purchases

Rhino Print Solutions has achieved G7 qualification, which is a printing-calibration target, used primarily between offset presses and proofing systems, established by IDEAlliance. G7 is built around the latest SWOP and GRACoL specifications, which allows for a close visual match between proof and press, as well as from press to press.

“We have always placed an emphasis on quality as a cornerstone of our business” said David Allan, President & CEO. “This is another milestone in our business plan to provide our clients with the very best in printed marketing materials.”

To achieve the G7 qualification, printing companies must work through on-site training processes, plate calibration, data analysis and colour alignment. Successful printers in the program are referred by IDEAlliance as a G7 Master Printer.

“The G7 process has a proven methodology using spectrophotometry to verify our proof and press sheets, increasing our colour matching confidence, this dramatically reduces make-ready times for all projects, and has improved our ability to meet and exceed our customer expectations.” adds Grant Bailey, VP of Prepress for Rhino.

Based in Richmond, British Columbia, Rhino also has manufacturing operations located in Calgary.

Crystal Uppercue describes G7 Master status after EU Services, a 400-employee direct marketing firm in Maryland where she works, recently achieved the designation. Uppercue explains what it means from a marketing-executive perspective.

By Crystal Uppercue

First of all, what is G7 Master?
G7 Master status indicates that a production facility has calibrated its equipment and systems to so-called “G7 grey balance and neutral tone curves.” In essence, this means that any print product coming out of a G7 Master facility will look like the same product printed at any other G7 Master facility. Obviously paper and other print characteristics will affect the appearance, too, but the colour and imagery will look like that printed at any G7 Master facility.

Who came up with it?
G7 Master status is the brainchild of the International Digital Enterprise Alliance, more commonly known as IDEAlliance. This is a not-for-profit membership organization whose business it is to advance best practices in printing. Members are not only printers, but also brand owners, agencies, publishers, materials suppliers and consultants – the full range of professionals interested in the quality of printing.

IDEAlliance’s G7 “Proof to Print” process is the way a production facility reaches targets laid out in GRACol 7 (General Requirements and Applications for Commercial Offset Lithography version 7), issued in 2006. G7 is currently being applied to many types of printing, including commercial and publication printing, newsprint, and even flexo.

What’s the point of G7 Master?
As the world of marketing and advertising becomes more complicated, so does the printing of the vast array of an organization’s packaging, signage, and marketing collateral. It’s commonplace to order variable printed direct mail from a printer in the D.C. area, signage from Philadelphia, and packaging from Richmond. Naturally, printed matter should look the same no matter where it’s printed. That is the objective of qualifying a production facility, its equipment, and its systems as a G7 Master.

How does the qualification work?
Marketers are all familiar with the environmental certifications awarded through FSC and SFI. G7 Master status is different, in that it qualifies a production facility, its equipment, and its systems as a G7 Master. For the time being, G7 Master status is not a certification, as no tolerances are imposed, though the program may evolve into such as industry data is gathered.

In order for a facility to earn G7 Master status, a professional who has earned “G7 Expert” status visits a production facility, meets with and educates staff about G7, and calibrates proofing systems and/or presses. G7 Experts are versed in the field of colour management, process, and quality control for proofing and printing equipment. They are able to analyze colour and print-related issues and take corrective action to bring systems and processes in control to a set method, standard, or specification.

Generally, a G7 Expert makes their living as a consultant to the agency/print/publishing industry. The production facility pays the consultant directly and IDEAlliance does not collect any fees. In-house G7 Professionals trained by the IDEAlliance can calibrate the systems, but an outside G7 Expert must review and approve the calibration data. To maintain G7 Master status, a production facility must be requalified each year.

What’s in it for you?
Predictability for one thing… and quality control. Knowing that your marketing brochures and direct-mail campaigns will look the same printed at any G7 Master facility – one less problem for you to worry about. A G7 Master shop can combine the latest technology with the experience and expertise of the printing professional, who is ultimately responsible for approval of the final product.

Crystal Uppercue is the marketing manager for EU Services, a 400-employee direct marketing production facility in Rockville, Md. EU was awarded G7 Master status on September 4.

Michigan-based X-Rite Inc. is now shipping its recently unveiled EasyTrax, which the company describes as the “industry’s most affordable, semi-automated scanning solution.”

With a starting price of US$10,995, EasyTrax is designed to provide process control for commercial offset or folding-carton printers with smaller format colour presses (from 20 inches up to 40 inches).

EasyTrax measures colour bars press-side to generate both density- and spectral-based measurement data. According to X-Rite, the technology “can be used with little to no training” and that it is “ideal for customers who have, until now, been relying on handheld technology to do spot checks.”

EasyTrax is compatible with X-Rite's range of prepress and pressroom solutions, and includes the PANTONE Digital Libraries. EasyTrax comes with a measurement board for installation on existing consoles. Support for ISO standards and G7 process control is available as an option, for those printers using specific ISO inks and paper stocks.

Pantone LLC, a subsidiary of X-Rite, today released a $9.99 iPhone application called myPANTONE to provide designers with mobile access to professional colour standards – “wherever they go and whenever they find inspiration.”

A designer with the myPANTONE app, for example, can use the iPhone's built-in camera to capture architecture or street scenes, from which colour can be extracted out of the iPhone photo and then matched to the closest Pantone-based colour. 

“myPANTONE gives designers the freedom to access PANTONE Colors anywhere, without the need to be in their office or carry around cumbersome guides," said Andy Hatkoff, VP of Technology Licensing for Pantone. “Now with myPANTONE's Portable Color Memory in their pocket, designers no longer need to agonize trying to recall an exact color."

The myPANTONE app provides access to all of Pantone’s colour libraries, including the Pantone Matching System for coated, uncoated and matte stock; as well as the Pantone Goe System; Pantone Pastels; and the Pantone Fashion + Home Smart Color System.  Each colour swatch in myPANTONE includes sRGB, HTML and L*a*b* values.

After recently winning a 2009 InterTech Award, Mitsubishi at PRINT 09 is set to debut its Diamond Color Navigator to the North American market. The colour-adjustment system automatically corrects all necessary ink-key openings based on an operator's visual colour sense.
Color Navigator
The system uses what Mitsubishi calls a revolutionary touch-screen colour wheel. Color Navigator consists of upper and lower monitors attached to a separate console located next to the Mitsubishi COMRAC control console. The upper monitor displays the print image as it appears on the press sheet. The operator uses this image to choose individual ink zones to be changed to match the colour proof. The lower monitor displays the key adjustment zones and the adjustment operation panel, while a handheld spectro-densitometer enables colour matching of specific spots on the sheet.

Also at PRINT 09, Mitsubishi plans to highlight its recently introduced Diamond V3000LX press. With a format size of 29 1/2 x 41 1/32 inches, this press is engineered to work with traditional commercial printing applications, as well as labels, packaging and point-of-purchase materials. The press includes the SimulChanger tool, which is an automated, simultaneous plate-changing system. The company claims that the V3000LX includes scratchproof transfer based on the placement of air showers above impression cylinders, a gripper height adjustment device and an individual air chamber at each printing unit.

Print PreviewThe press also features what the company refers to as its Eco-Drive motor for lower power consumption. In addition, Mitsubishi claims that its newly developed plate-clamping system eliminates the need to bend the plate edge, while upgraded impression pressure preset trims five minutes from stock-thickness changes.

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