A close look at extended gamut printing

Extending the gamut allows for the creation of colours that are much more vibrant.

NORTH AMERICA • Extended gamut printing (EG), also known as extended colour gamut printing, has been in use by narrow web and packaging converters for the past two decades, although its adoption has been limited. From time to time the technology has had its champions: Pantone’s Hexachrome offered six colour process printing by the addition of orange and green, and Opaltone uses CMY with RGB and the optional addition of black.

Extending the gamut allows for the creation of colours that are much more vibrant, as well as providing the ability to reproduce a much greater range of spot colours using a fixed palette.

But EG printing also should be the means to achieve other results, profitable results: shorter changeover times, lower consumption of inks and plates, and the efficiencies gained from running multiple SKUs on the same web with little interruption.

Nilpeter USA, the North American arm of the Danish narrow web press manufacturer, will demonstrate the advantages of extended gamut printing at an open house on 31 July at its headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. The educational event will include demonstrations of several aspects of the process, as well as a live press run on a Nilpeter FB-3 flexo press (13” wide (330mm), eight print stations). The process to be demonstrated makes use of CMYK plus OGV: orange, green and violet.

Joining Nilpeter at the event will be Harper Corporation (anilox rolls), Actega (inks), Flexographix (plates), tesa tape (materials), and Esko, whose Equinox software is key to the accurate delivery of separations using the broader colour palette. This year, Esko Equinox received the coveted Technical Innovation Award from the Flexographic Technical Association in the category of prepress-graphics.

“The Esko software builds all of the spot colours. Once on the press, there are no changes of anilox, no washing of ink pans, and not a lot of changeover except for a plate or two,” said Paul Teachout, vice president of sales and marketing for Nilpeter USA.

EG printing is gaining new respect, especially among flexible packaging printers facing multiple SKU print jobs, by virtue of the technological advances in inline servo driven flexo presses. “With this type of press, the servo automation can hold much tighter registration than before,” Teachout said. “The new automated presses go hand in hand with extended gamut printing now, allowing for a more efficient flexo process.”

The open house, Teachout noted, will focus on the educational journey from initial banded roll anilox testing to determine the anilox and inkset needs, to the press characterization and fingerprinting that would provide press performance data, to the optimized Equinox software data that Esko provides in order to build spot colours from the seven process colours.

The Nilpeter FB-3 press will be used in the demonstration
The Nilpeter FB-3 press will be used in the demonstration

The EG process permits the anilox roll and ink inventories to be standardized, and minimizes other forms of waste. “If the operator doesn’t have to wash ink pans and doctor rolls, change the anilox out every time he goes from spot colour to spot colour, then it becomes just a plate change. Press efficiency goes up dramatically,” said Teachout.

“As long as the parameters and variables are maintained as the jobs continue, all I need to provide to the operator is a set of plates. If he needs to re-run part of the job, all he has to do it recall that job number and the press re-sets itself automatically.”

Teachout estimates 80 to 100 attendees for the event.

Those interested in attending can sign up at

Jack kenny
Jack Kenny, NarrowWebTech's North American correspondent, has written about the label and packaging industries since 1995.

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