Color management is an essential part of the printing process and even more import in packaging, where the varying shapes and package densities much be offset with customer / brand requirements in order to create the best possible accepted range of hues. Alison Lakacha of Techkon USA discusses five reasons for color management in packaging and how to properly measure and control color issues.
Is your ink really the right color? How can you tell?
Determine whether the color of the ink you are receiving from your supplier falls within an acceptable distance from the customer specified colors and tolerances; before the end of the press run. Follow these 3 simple steps:
- Have the ink supplier provide an ink draw-down on the actual press material you are going to print on along with the customer specified color values (Lab) and how close the ink is to the specified color (∆E).
- Use a Spectrodensitometer to check the color of the ink draw-down to verify that it is within the customer stated color specification and tolerance.
- Measure what is being printed at regular intervals to determine if the color is still within customer tolerances. Swapping in a new bucket of ink may cause unintended color variation consequences.
These 3 steps are an easy way to control ink color variations that can ultimately lead to costly remakes and wasted materials.
Checking density is not checking color.
Density is the amount of ink being printed in a given area. Measuring density is not a method for checking color. A Spectrodensitometer color-measuring instrument is ideal for qualifying whether the color being printed is within the customer color specification and tolerance. It can help determine whether extender needs to be added to the bucket of ink, whether the PH needs to be adjusted or a new bucket of ink should be swapped in.
Maintain good color between different presses, shifts and print facilities.
There are three main elements to minimize unacceptable color variations between different shifts, presses and print facilities on the same customer job:
- Use a Spectrodensitometer color-measuring device. A Spectrodensitometer will measure the color being printed and compare it against customer approved color specifications and tolerances.
- Make sure that the different shifts, presses and print facilities are using the customer approved color specifications and tolerances to check that the color being printed is accurate and within the customer stated tolerance.
- Also, there is color control trending software that can keep track of the performance of a specific job and produce reports indicating to the customer or internal quality personnel how well the press run performed.
Understand how the color of your packaging material effects the color of your print job.
The color of your printing material can substantially influence the accuracy of the color being printed. Since inks are not 100% opaque the color and texture of the material that is being printed on will show underneath the ink being laid down on press, causing a visual color variation, which is sometimes highly substantial.
Using a Spectrodensitometer to measure the print materials ensures consistent color between rolls. It will also help you better predict the impact the color of your print material will have on the end-result printed piece.
If you are not measuring color, how can you control it?
The best method for controlling color is to actually measure color. A Spectrodensitometer will measure the color being printed, compare it against the customer color specification and qualify and quantify whether it is within expected tolerances. Measuring color lets you consistently fulfill your customer’s requirements and expectations.
Guest article from Allison Lakacha of Techkon, the innovation leader in densitometers, spectrophotometers and software solutions for the global print community.