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Zeroing in on New Ways to Match Color

(July 2008) posted on Thu Jul 24, 2008

Visually judging the accuracy of color between printed samples is a process that many printers use. Unfortunately, this method leads to downtime and waste. Here you

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By Bruce Ridge

All businesses have their accepted practices. These are the methods used year after year without question—even when better options exist. The accepted practice in the world of color reproduction and approval is to work toward achieving one exact color match. Experienced color matchers know that it’s highly unlikely for any reproduction process to match a color exactly. So we end up spending a great deal of time determining how close is close enough. This article explains why such an approach is unprofitable and describes a new way to go about color matching, one in which you work smarter and match in a more productive manner.

Absolute zero-tolerance color matching

A common practice in the reproduction of a spot or match color in the printing, molding, or painting processes is to work toward matching a specific color chip or sample (Figure 1). In printing, this is commonly a Pantone color chip or a paint chip. Then we have someone who gets the task of approving or judging the reproduced color as it compares to the original sample. And in many cases this person is trained to reject the reproduced color should any difference between the two samples be detected visually. The art of rejecting any visually detectable deviation between two color samples by the observer is known as absolute zero color tolerancing.

This type of color matching and tolerancing is responsible for press and equipment downtime and material waste, and it can be an overall drain on motivation for the skilled workers who are trying to match the color. They spend enough time as it is trying to determine how far off the color can be and still be sellable or acceptable. They often spend this time to the detriment of the manufacturing process because of costly machine idling.


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