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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

No matter how elaborate our color matching instrumentation and software may be, we always seem to end up in the same old situation: The customer or final buyer of the color ends up approving or rejecting the color visually. So they use their eyes, in their lighting, in their environment. So all the work and money spent controlling and viewing the color is now in jeopardy.

The better way is to work backwards from the ways in which you’ve traditionally approached the process of color matching. Since the use of digital inkjet proofing is now universally accepted for basic color evaluation, it also makes sense to use digital technology to create inexpensive, highly accurate visual color-tolerancing models for the key colors you need to reproduce. These prints can be for perceptual images and spot colors. And since most inkjets now use digital proofing or modeling, you can use these printers to create very accurate simulations of target colors with slight deviations in order to present a visual tolerance prior to production. Then, use the visual model to determine which variations from the absolute color are visually acceptable to the customer, print buyer, or QC person based on their eyes, lighting, and environment.

Once the acceptable visual tolerance has been established (Figure 5),0 then the manufacturer/printer can take readings (Figure 6)0 from the visually approved color samples and can then use those readings in the reproduction process. This now completes the circle in making use of instrumentation in manufacturing for consistency and accuracy, but by having manufacturing targets that have been approved visually by the person who would approve or reject the color in the first place.

Zero tolerance for zero tolerance

Moving beyond absolute zero color tolerancing gives you the opportunity to establish print tolerances that directly relate to your clients or QC people. Using digital proofing in the ways describ-ed here is a powerful way to make use of new printing technology and reinvent the way we control color—that is, to manage color so that the accuracy of our work meets our clients’ requirements and does so within the limits of the manufacturing process. The result is more profit in reproducing color with-in tolerances that we define visually.



Bruce Ridge is business director for Nazdar Consulting Services. He has worked with Nazdar in product management, product training, and sales. Ridge began and facilitated the Masterprint Color Training Program, which has been presented to more than 2500 printers in North America. He is now working in Nazdar Consulting Services, where the focus is on developing and delivering improved print productivity. A frequent speaker at SGIA events, Ridge is a member of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology and has won many Golden Squeegee awards. He is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University’s Graphic Communications Program.




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