by Alvaro Rodríguez
“Color is the first thing people think when a brand name comes up,” says Alvaro Rodríguez, color management expert, Flint Group Digital. “Being able to reproduce accurate, repeatable color is paramount. At Xeikon, we have developed a color management system that is tied to quality control. Calibrating a press today is great, but we need to be sure that prints are within tolerance today, tomorrow, six months from now and next year.”
1. What are the newest trends/products in color management, and what should converters know?
Brand owners and retailers and the current high levels of e-commerce continue to drive the need for color consistency across the whole of the print process. Print buyers have become increasingly more aware of print quality and color. Color is the first thing people think when a brand name comes up. Being able reproduce accurate, repeatable color is paramount. At Xeikon, we have developed a color management system that is tied to quality control. Calibrating a press today is great, but we need to be sure that prints are within tolerance today, tomorrow, six months from now and next year.
2. How has the ability to reliably and repeatability reproduce color evolved in recent years?
Our machines are very reliable. Customers have always been able to get color from them. With Xeikon Color Control, we now offer the ability to adhere to color standards, but most important, keep the machine printing extremely close to the way it was initially calibrated. Job after job, day after day. Backed with measured data. Best of all, all these measurements are done automatically by our toner machines.
3. What is the importance of utilizing the correct color management tools?
Xeikon’s XCS Pro 2.0 offers the printer the predictability and confidence to be able to match digital brand colors alongside the results from other processes. Printers can match spot and brand colors where Xeikon's new color tools remove all guesswork and avoid down time by trial and error. Customer loyalty is crucial to any business, so repeatability and consistent quality is another important advantage. This was an early design specification of Xeikon’s Color Control toolbox to allow for reproduction of any job at any time with the exact same quality. Using the Inline Spectro-photometer supplied with all Xeikon dry toner engines, color management becomes touchless and automatic. Last-minute tweaks can be made "on the fly" and profiles, color tables and quality control are all controlled by AI during production ensuring the highest quality print is maintained.
Xeikon Color Control is similar, not only gives you the ability to make sure your press is in optimal conditions before and during each job. But stores on an online data base each measurement. Showing you the current job status, plus trends over time.
4. How do you navigate the various color standards? What’s important to know here?
The world is divided into different color camps. We play nice with all. It does not matter if you adhere European standards, or GRACoL, or another. As long as you can provide an ICC profile of your target color space, we can calibrate our presses to match them as close as possible. Speaking of GRACoL, our Chicago Customer Innovation Center recently is recognized as a Master G7 Print facility. Xeikon’s cloud-based analytical tools can diagnose any color issue and the issue is sorted with no delays which adds to significant time savings in production.
5. How do brands guarantee consistent color when working with different print processes? Digital, flexo, hybrid, etc.?
Increasingly brands want to get color reports on their print jobs. The print report that Xeikon Color Control generates, can be included with the print job. This way, without looking at the print, the print buyer can verify that what was printed is what they wanted.
Every day is more and more common that printers who print using process colors, are choosing a color space, GRACoL, Fogra, ETC. This becomes their stake in the ground, what everything references as every output device in the shop should try be as close to is as possible to it. Then it does not matter if the print is produced digitally, flexo, offset, or whatever, the output should be as similar as the distance of the printing device is to the reference. The quality control tools can be set to industry standards – either theoretical, ‘process corrected’ or ‘house’ standards and results are measured and traced using the new analytics in Xeikon’s cloud-based system.
6. How has automation played a role here?
Automation is a game-changer. Xeikon’s dry toner engines are all fitted with inline spectrophotometers to automatically make possible during production saving on waste and rejected jobs. Now we are using that device to measure color and see how close prints are to the desired standard. It is also possible for the operator to fix and re-verify the color quality of the print on the fly.
For packaging and label printers, accurate brand colors are vitally important.
Xeikon’s new suite of color management software contains tools that can copy and paste from a pre-printed sample to optimize the brand color for the selected substrate.
Xeikon uses .CxF (color exchange format) in order to communicate with tools found in the analogue world such as Flint Group’s VIVO or Pantone LIVE as well as proofing systems.
Xeikon brought to market, in 2021, the Xeikon Color Services Pro 2.0. The fully automated suite of color management tools is based in the cloud and delivers every advantage of quality color control – predictability, repeatability and profitability.