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Alternatives for Print-Device Simulation: An Overview of Modern Approaches to Neutralizing Color Out

(May 2007) posted on Thu May 24, 2007

Tired of tying up presses and personnel as you try to emulate the output of your printing equipment? Discover some powerful methods you can use to improve color matching with any CMYK inkset, substrate, or line count on any printing device.

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By Mike Ruff

The concept of hybrid curves came as a result of testing I conducted a few years ago. I wanted to find a method that would deliver a higher level of color con­trol for screen and digital printers who are challenged by the diverse, colored substrates that they use for producing large-format graphics. Among my discov­eries was that changing ink density to hit specific color targets really drains pro­ductive press time in a major way. I also noticed that many of these press delays were caused by differences in substrate color. Therefore, there was a real need to move colors closer by using better compensation curves rather than just deal with solid density and dot-gain data. I acknowledged the need to combine dot-gain data with absolute-density data. The results were very successful. Combining the two distinctly different sets of data to formulate a better and more accurate curve for color matching works beauti­fully. This combination significantly improves color matching without the need to halt production and change ink densities on the printing device. Hybrid curves can help move color closer the first time and eliminate many color adjustments at press.

What's next?

I believe the progressive and closely color-calibrated companies in the litho industry will quickly accept the G7 specifications that simplify matches to the most common color appearance in the world: ISO 12647-2. Many companies in the screen-printing industry have already been using hybrid curves and, as a result,  have been accomplishing the same goal, but without specifically targeting ISO 12647-2. Now is the time to seriously con­sider the value in bringing screen printers and digital printers to this same standard. To that end, SGIA recently formed a G7 Evaluation Task Force for this project at its annual Congress of Committees meeting. By moving on from the appearance trap of the outdated international standards that specify different dot gains and accept dif­ferent color appearances for different line counts and paper grades, we can open up a new world of device-to-device matching.

You will soon see how G7, hybrid curves, and other methods improve the productivity and profitability of those who invest in this progressive thinking. Your ability to remain competitive may very well depend on your willingness to adopt these new practices in your own business.


Mike Ruff is chief technology officer of Nazdar Consulting Service, Shawnee, KS. During his more than 35 years in the graphic-arts industry, he has worked in the signmaking and screen-printing fields as both a manager and business owner. Ruff frequently lectures at trade shows, conducts training classes for the Screen Printing Technical Foundation, and authors articles for industry journals. He is a member of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology and is a Certified G7 Color Expert.



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