Digital print providers offer customers accurate, consistent, and quality color with the correct tools. Several devices are available to control color; helpings print service providers (PSPs) achieve an accurate, high-quality product.
Tools for the Job
CHROMiX Digital PressWatch is a digital printing service that combines full-page diagnostics and automated measurement routing with standard Maxwell features such as notifications, multi-dimensional reporting, and multi-user Web browser access. The combination allows press operators rapid target scanning and at-a-glance diagnostics. The cost is $999 for one press per year, or $2,499 for three presses per year.
In addition, CHROMiX recently introduced two new features for Maxwell—Multi-Dimensional Reporting and the new DashBoard.
Using Web Control Center in Fiery XF, EFI enables color-managed files to be distributed to multiple locations.
EFI developed an iterative gray balance optimization within the EFI Fiery XF linearization, specifically for EFI VUTEk printers. It balances the CMY gradation curves and leads to very neutral grays even before color management takes place.
Additionally, EFI developed a dynamic rendering intent that analyzes the reference or source profile, the media or output profile, and the specific colors of a job. Based on this analysis, the ideal rendering intent is automatically proposed to the user.
The Esko Color Engine is a central color database for all color critical data. In combination with the color database, The Color Engine maintains consistency throughout a production environment by ensuring every application and operator works with the same color critical data. It manages color in the CMYK space or with an expanded gamut workspace, assuring accurate brand and spot color matching. The Esko Equinox tool for Adobe Systems Incorporated Photoshop allows the accurate reproduction of images in an expanded gamut. The Equinox tools for ArtPro and PackEdge allow users to remap color spaces for linework and images, based on the color gamut and scheme of any particular press—digital or traditional.
Fujifilm’s ColorPath is a cloud-based verification and alignment color management solution, which also focuses on remote access and continues to increase in utility and versatility while maintaining a user-friendly interface.
Last year, Konica Minolta Sensing America’s, Inc. introduced the FD-5 and FD-7 spectrodensitometers. "These units were the first two spectrodensitometers to meet the latest ISO 13655.2 specifications—graphic technology, spectral measurement, and colorimetric computation for graphic arts images," shares Russell Doucette, business development manager, Konica Minolta Sensing America’s, Inc. "This standard defined a new measurement condition—M1—basically that that spectral power distribution of the illuminating light source of the measuring device should match CIE illuminant D50," he explains. This condition should be used when optical brighteners are of concern.
Techkon’s SpectroEdge is an inline Spectrophotometer developed to enable press manufacturers to achieve offset-like print quality. This technology is currently integrated into new digital presses. "In the next three years we expect most digital presses to be equipped with inline spectrophotometers, shares George Adam, president, Techkon USA. "Recent advancement of electronics hardware and software development tools make it possible to inexpensively develop a full CPU-driven spectrophotometer that can be packaged small, and rugged enough to be embedded inside a new—or retrofitted to an existing—digital press," he adds. The ability to measure color while the press is running, and automatically adjust the ink heads to achieve the desired result, provides closed loop color control.
The SpectroEdge is suited for a range of printing presses. It offers design features with 3,000 samples per second, scanning spectrophotometer with inline color measurement, and reporting of 31 spectral bands. It also features a Linux operating system, capable of automatically identifying color patches using image recognition algorithms. It operates at 3mm height, accommodating ±.5mm change in distance from media. Its metal construction is designed to withstand vibration or the impact of broken media.
The new X-Rite CAPSURE tool provides publishing creatives with the ability to accurately measure the color of virtually any test surface while on the go, and digitally match the color against a digital library of thousands of colors. The palm-sized spectrophotometer takes measurements with the click of a button and distinguishes up to four colors in intricate patterns. To ensure the colors appearing on displays exactly match those rendered at proofing and printing operations, X-Rite developed a range of i1 color management tools to meet the needs of photo, pre-press, digital pressroom, and publishing professionals.
Additionally, i1 color management tools such as i1Display Pro and i1Publish target specific requirements. The i1Display Pro uses an advanced colorimeter and software to create profiles of displays and projectors that take into account ambient light conditions. The i1Publish is geared for graphic arts professionals who need to organize prepress workflow using digital standards, including new assurance validation and verification functions.
With a free online utility Pantone’s PANTONE PLUS digital libraries are integrated into the most commonly used graphic design systems made by Adobe and other companies. For graphic designers, this means that all of the PMS colors formerly defined in fan decks, along with hundreds of additional Pantone colors are easily selected on a computer monitor.
Testing the Market
Finding the right tool, or combination of tools, to achieve proper coloration is a matter of investigating options that are currently on the market and weighing the pros and cons. Factors such as cost, usability, and quality affect one’s decision on the best color management device.
Part three of this series discusses recent advancements and upcoming trends in digital color standards