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International Color Standards, Part 1: Setting the Stage for Increased Profits

(October 2007) posted on Wed Oct 03, 2007

International color-reproduction standards allow printers to compete globally, increase productivity, and make more money. This article digs into the foundations of standards and highlights the value of conforming to them.

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By Mike Ruff

The numbers in Table 2 should make some major problems evident. The starting point for every output, based on these numbers, is out of balance and weak in color tonal value. This equates to color-correction time to match all internationally conforming color targets. The press was just sitting idle each time color had to be adjusted. Compare the numbers in Table 2 to the approximate and typical international standard absolute densities listed in Table 3. The printer had been (supposedly) calibrated to SWOP specifications. You can easily see that the digital press charted in Table 2 wasn’t even close. Almost every file that entered the workflow required multiple color corrections at press.

The press was actually only printing for four hours per shift. The installation of an off-press proofer calibrated to graphic-arts-industry standards allowed all of the color corrections to files to be made in the prepress department because the press became completely predictable. The press moved to seven hours per shift of revenue-generating time. The company concluded that a second printer was not necessary. The shop is now making a ton of money. The solution was simply to conform to industry standards. The key to a profitable workflow was an off-press proofer, in conformity to international standards, used to predict a press calibrated to international standards, thereby eliminating the need to mess with color on a production device.


How do standards drive profitability?

International standards improve our predictability and position us for it on a global scale. They eliminate the issues that delay press time and free up production machines to do the jobs they were designed to handle. They tie our graphics software, computer monitors, and imaging devices to a single reference point. Profit is spelled P-R-E-D-I-C-T-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y in the printing industry. International standards get us there. Next month, we’ll conclude this discussion by looking closely at a variety of standards and specifications and explore the ones that are most applicable to your business.


Mike Ruff is chief technology officer of Nazdar Consulting Service, Shawnee, KS. During his more than 35 years in the graphicarts 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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