X-Rite – Q&A about extended colour gamut printing
Adopting new technologies in practical and profitable ways is a key factor for many companies within the label and package printing industry. NarrowWebTech asked Cindy Cooperman, global director of packaging & brand from X-Rite, part of Danaher Group, about extended colour gamut printing, the benefits of printing with a fixed palette of colours and its barriers.
By NarrowWebTech editor Rosina Obermayer
We are hearing more discussion about extended colour gamut printing. Could you please explain what that is?
Cindy Cooperman: This is also referred to as fixed colour palette printing. It uses a fixed palette of colours to achieve more Pantone colours. A common ink set used is CMYK plus Orange, Green and Violet. In 2015, Pantone released an extended colour gamut guide that translates Pantone colours to ECG recipes. The benefit of this process is to provide more colour choices to brands and designers without the expense of dedicated units on press when the economics of a job do not allow for it.
What are the benefits of printing with a fixed palette of ink colours?
Cindy Cooperman: It eliminates the need to purchase and manage a large inventory of spot colours. It further reduces job changeover times, since the same ink set is being used throughout. The operator basically changes plates and is up and running again in a few minutes. This reduces make ready time and waste, especially important with the demand for faster turn round times and keeping costs in line. It also makes it easier to run combo jobs, making better use of expensive substrates and increasing throughput by running multiple jobs together.
This sounds like something that should be widely adopted. Is it?
Cindy Cooperman: The technology and guidance to implement fixed colour palette printing are just really coming into maturity. It requires plates with precise register and the ability to convert spot colours to ECG format. Most of the plate and platesetter manufacturers, especially in the flexo market, have made great strides in achieving this. A good example is Esko’s XPS Crystal technology. These solutions not only automate the platemaking process but also deliver high-quality plates. On the colour conversion side, solutions like Esko Equinox can readily convert those spot colours to the fixed set of inks the converter chooses to use. We are seeing more adoption of fixed colour palette printing in Europe than in the U.S., but overall, interest is growing.
What are the barriers?
Cindy Cooperman: Barriers to adoption range from work mix to education. Converters typically understand the value of ECG but struggle to find a pragmatic approach to adopt the technique without disrupting the status quo. The other challenge is to educate their customers on how to incorporate ECG into their design and prepress workflows with appropriate expectation setting as to the final print results.
How do Esko and X-Rite work together to help converters in this type of implementation?
Cindy Cooperman: Since Esko, X-Rite, Pantone, AVT and others are part of the Danaher family, we have been working together to ensure we can jointly work with customers to simplify and make more productive the packaging value chain. No one else can offer this type of seamless workflow. Over time, our solutions will become even more integrated, but as it stands today, there are a number of customers in print and packaging who have already benefited from working with the Danaher companies to solve business problems, make their operations more efficient and profitable, and better serve their customers.