What is Closed-Loop Color Process Control for Offset, Flexo & Digital Presses and Why it’s Time to Retrofit

Periodic color monitoring and control of aim characteristics (color, density, TVI, G7, etc.) of an offset, flexo,or digital press is extremely important for ensuring accurate and consistent color reproduction throughout the press run. These operations can either be accomplished manually, semi-automatically or automatically via color measurement hardware and color control software. Manual color control is a primitive method of quality control that uses a “trial and error” process—and it’s costing printers worldwide millions of dollars…

What is a SpectroDensitometer?

By: Bruce Leigh Myers, Ph.D. Color reflection densitometers have been used for many years in the graphic communications and printing industry and are likely the most widely adopted type of color measurement instrument for process control especially when dealing with four-color process (CMYK) printing. In the 1990’s, instruments began to be utilized that, while providing densitometric information, were referred to as “SpectroDensitometers.” This has led to confusion by some and has been regarded as hyperbolic…

CIE ΔE* (Color Difference) Equations

Pictured above is a combination handheld spectrophotometer and densitometer, the SpectroDens 4.  The intent of using deltaE (ΔE) is to describe the distance between two colors. The Just Noticeable Difference (JND) of deltaE is usually 1. In other words, if two colors have a deltaE less than 1 it is imperceptible and larger than 1 is perceivable. Unfortunately, due to the nature of human color perception (our eyes), the visual perception of colors is different….

What is the Process Free (or Processless) Plate and What to Consider When Switching?

Photo Credit: Kodak Sonora Process Free Plates Since the introduction of the CTP (Computer-to-plate) plate from AGFA in 1993, it only took 2 years for more than 50 CTP systems to be brought to the DRUPA exhibition held in 1995. Nowadays, if you walk into a litho offset shop, you will definitely find a CTP system somewhere, usually in a separate CTP room or sharing space within the prepress department. Just like any equipment you…

5 Advantages of Using an Automatic Scanning Color Spectrophotometer

Automate your color control process An automatic scanning color spectrophotometer like the SpectroDrive is a perfect tool to aid in the task of automating your color control process. It is designed to scan entire press sheet color bars in a matter of seconds thus eliminating the need for manual measurements via a handheld device. These devices are fast, accurate, and can also scan color bars anywhere on the press sheet. Collect & distribute data The…

Should I Use a Color Densitometer or Color Spectrophotometer in My Pressroom?

Should I Use a Densitometer or Spectrophotometer in My Pressroom – this a question we hear all the time from printers across all segments of the industry. While the densitometer has been around for many years and has been widely adopted, there is no doubt that the momentum has now shifted towards using spectrophotometers in the pressroom. Today’s pressroom spectrophotometers (sometimes called “spectro-densitometers”), offer all of the capabilities of a densitometer and also have the…

What are M0, M1, M2, M3 Measuring Mode Settings

In accordance with the ISO 13655 standard, the “M” series of measuring mode settings were defined in order to standardize illumination conditions where optical brightening agents are utilized in substrates. The following is designed as a quick reference chart of the 4 different measuring mode settings within the “M” series. M0 “Color measuring mode A” spectral luminance factor without polarization filter under a light source that simulates standard illuminant A (gas lamps or LEDs, 2856…

Beyond the Densitometer – Part 3

Improve Pressroom Efficiencies – Part 3 Two weeks ago, we kicked off our 3-part blog series looking at “Good”, “Better”, and “Best” upgrade options for packaging printers to reduce their make-readies, improve their color matching process, and attain more consistent color throughout their pressruns. In part 1, we examined the benefits of switching from densitometers to handheld spectrophotometers in flexographic pressrooms. In part 2, we looked at the benefits of adding press-side color quality software solutions…

Beyond the Densitometer – Part 2

Improve Pressroom Efficiencies – Part 2 Last week, we kicked off our 3-part blog series looking at “Good”, “Better”, and “Best” upgrade options for packaging printers to reduce their make-readies, improve their color matching process, and attain more consistent color throughout their pressruns. In part 1, we examined the benefits of switching from densitometers to handheld spectrophotometers in flexographic pressrooms. As discussed, this is a relatively easy upgrade because these instruments still measure the familiar process…

Beyond the Densitometer

Improve Pressroom Efficiencies – Part I While handheld densitometers have already been adopted in many flexographic pressrooms, it’s important to remember that these devices do not actually measure color and are therefore incapable of reporting the accuracy of brand or spot colors on press.  The best that desitometers can do is to measure and report the densities (ink film thickness) of solid color patches and the tone value increase (TVI) of halftone dot areas.  While these…

Sheetfed Closed-Loop Color Control

“It’s Easier Than You Think!” Is your closed-loop color control system showing it’s age or require expensive repairs? Any chance it was made by that “X” company? Upgrading to a new Techkon SpectroDrive can improve your productivity enough to cover the cost. Find out why KBA, Heidelberg, Manroland, Komori, RMGT, Sakurai, Goss, Akiyama and more are retrofitting their presses with Techkon press-side color measurement solutions. After reading about the advantages for sheet-fed offset presses, use…

Victor Envelope Implements the SpectroVision Inline Color Quality Control Solution

We sat down with some of the staff at Victor Envelope to learn more about their operation, facility, and why they chose to implement Techkon color control solutions.  A billion envelopes is no small feat and we are proud to be an integral part of making that happen! Interview Participants: John Horgan – Quality Control Specialist Kent Gundlach – President Dariusz Kogut – Technical Training & Production Development Manager We asked John to comment on…

A New Appreciation for Inline Color Measurements

It goes by many names.  Some call it “pressroom color QC”, “pressroom color QA”, or even “pressroom color quality control”.  However, regardless of the name, packaging printers are recognizing the value and are investing in color quality solutions for their pressrooms with the ultimate goal of getting up to color faster, lowering their make-ready costs, and achieving more consistent color across long press runs. Most typically, these solutions feature new software (such as Techkon’s ChromaQA)…

Choosing the Right Color QC Software Package

Brand managers and print providers can take control of their color quality process by implementing a Color QC software solution.  Color QC software solutions are an essential tool in the pressroom to communicate job color standards and tolerances, provide PASS/FAIL feedback for operators, offer recommendations to quickly achieve desired color targets, and provide reporting of job color metrics to internal and external stakeholders such as brand customers.  Press-side and on-press color quality solutions are available…

Color QC In The Inkroom

Greetings and welcome back to our blog! While pressroom color QC solutions are designed to help press operators get up to color faster during make-ready and improve color consistency throughout production, I want to spend a few minutes today and talk about how printers can further increase their operating efficiencies by implementing a dedicated inkroom color QC solution. Specifically, we are going to discuss the “Chroma Standards” software module that is included with Techkon’s ChromaQA…

Optimizing Density for Non-Process Colors

When printing colors other than CMYK, many users understandably turn to colorimetric information (CIE LAB, Delta-E). Frequently overlooked, however, is the importance of using optimized density metrics for process control in the offset lithographic pressroom.  One such metric, available on many spectrodensitometers, is spectral density (sometimes called “density-by-wavelength” or “lambda density”). A brief illustration of how a densitometer “sees” color ensues, followed by an overview of spectral density. Consider looking at a printed cyan ink…

Have You Fallen Behind on Your Device Recertifications?

The device recertification process for a densitometer or spectrophtometer ensures that your device is functioning properly and meets our strict international standards.  We recommend it be evaluated every 12 months at a Techkon Service Center. This preventative maintenance is critical to keeping your equipment performing at optimum levels and will help avoid sudden and unexpected interruptions on the pressroom floor. Properly maintaining your equipment helps ensure the accuracy of your color measurements while also extending…

3 Reasons Offset Printers Need Automated Color Control

While color measurements can be taken by hand, calculated, and worked out to verify a ‘passing’ sheet, for most offset printers this is not practical. The time it takes, both to measure and to calculate all the required print attributes, is prohibitive. When printers ask about doing this, we advise that while it can be done, for most printers they will not be successful. Many brand customers care about a variety of attributes such as…

MYIRO-1: First Impressions of the Software

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog regarding my first impressions of the MYIRO-1 instrument and how it stands apart from the competition.  This week, I’d like share a few quick thoughts regarding the MYIRO-1 ICC color management software and how it has been built to support several specific use cases that complement an ICC profiling workflow very nicely. Ease of Use: Before we get into the features and functions of the software, I…

The Importance of Color Quality for Brand Owners

We invited Sonja Dearden, Print Production Manager at Lindt Chocolate, to a discussion on color quality for brand owners and developed this Question & Answer Guide to provide valuable insights on the importance of print standardization when managing color around the globe. QUESTION: Why do we need print standardization? ANSWER: An international company can have many different designers, pre-press agencies and print vendors around the globe working on their brand. If they all start from…