Match Colors Faster on Press!

Good afternoon blog fans!  It’s been a little while since my last blog post and as I look ahead into 2023, I’ve got many great topics in mind to discuss with you regarding Techkon products and technologies that are “must-haves” for any printing environment. So, I am going to jump right in today with a close-up look at Techkon’s InkCheck technology.  This is a feature that is built right into our SpectroDens handheld instrument and also embedded into our pressroom color quality (or pressroom color QC) software solution called ChromaQA™.

Imagine pulling a printed sample from the press, taking a single measurement of a spot color, seeing both the current deltaE & the best possible deltaE that is achievable with that ink on press, and receiving precise density adjustments required to achieve the lowest deltaE value.  This is the power of Techkon’s InkCheck™ technology.  Now think about how useful this feature could be for your younger or less experienced press operators and how this could drastically reduce your make-ready times and improve your color matching capabilities on press.

Here’s a look at the how our ChromaQA™ software communicates this information to the press operator:

In this example, the printed spot color in the job has a current measured density of 1.41 and a resulting deltaE of 3.12 compared to the desired color standard. However, the software is stating that the optimal or “Best” density value for this spot color is really 1.28 because that will result in the lowest possible deltaE for this ink which is 0.54. Think about it…our operator has measured only a single sample from the roll and instantly knows the best density that will produce the lowest possible deltaE. That’s a powerful feature!

So, while the example above has a happy ending because we have an easy solution to get our deltaE under control, this is not always the case. Depending on your ink, sometimes InkCheck™ may have bad news for the press operator where the best possible density value still produces a deltaE value that is higher than the tolerance specified by the customer. However, even in these cases, InkCheck™ is invaluable for the press operators because now they immediately know the limitations of that ink on press (after only measuring one printed sample) and they can decide if they need to “tone” the ink on press or send it back to the ink department to be reformulated. So, in either case, InkCheck™ is providing vital information to the press operator about how to match color on press and in the most efficient manner.

The other feature within InkCheck™ that I would like to point out is called the “Density Spread”. Density Spread is the calculated range of densities where the press operator can run the spot color and still be within the desired deltaE tolerance. Have a look at the screenshot below from ChromaQA™:

The “V” shaped curve plotted here shows the resulting deltaE’s (Y-axis) for different printed density values (X-axis) of this ink. The dashed line at the bottom of the V curve shows the density value that produces the lowest possible deltaE, while the “Density Spread” shows the range of density values for this ink that will produce measured deltaE values within the tolerance for this color (tolerance = deltaE < 2 in example above). This is also really helpful information for the press operator because the Density Spread gives them a sense for how quickly the deltaE of this color will change on press with density variations.  Colors with a smaller Density Spread should be monitored more closely by the press operator because they have a great chance of drifting out of tolerance as the density changes through the press run. In our example, we have a pretty wide density spread so this ink will be more forgiving with density changes throughout production.  However, this is not always the case and the Density Spread can then direct the press operator’s attention to those colors that are the most sensitive in the job and need to be more closely monitored.

So that’s the end of this blog regarding InkCheck™ technology and why it is such an important and helpful tool for your press operators. Remember, giving your operators the tools to reduce the guesswork and subjectivity of color matching will reap big rewards with reduced make-readies, better color matches, and increased profitability.  Thanks for reading and let us know if you have any questions or would like to learn more about any of Techkon’s press color management tools.  Stay tuned for more blogs in 2023…