Or More Appropriately, Process Control SHOULD Never Stop in Color Management
I had an instructor in a class I was taking say, “You can’t have color management without process control.” I thought about that for a bit and decided he was right.
One of the biggest constants in color management for printing is maintenance. The physical condition of the printer needs to be maintained. The environmental conditions of the printer need to be monitored. And the profile of the printer needs constant process control to achieve consistent and predictable color.
Color Management Strategy And Software Is Key
To create a profile and maintain a profile, you need two things: a measuring instrument and verification software to validate the profile. This is a huge part of process control.
SpotOn Verify is a flexible powerful tool that helps you clearly define performance and control your print process. The Visual Match Scorecard shows you how visually consistent devices are. The software provides tracking and trending data to help you print consistently over time.
So, Wait. What’s A Profile?
To have a good color management strategy, you need to understand what you’re trying to maintain.
A profile is a characterization of how a printing device prints at that moment in time. It takes into account all the variables that could affect printing such as environment, media, ink, substrate, print speed and resolution.
Changing one of these variables can negatively affect the quality of printing. Therefore, the profile has to be maintained so that it can accurately do its job.
Process Control Through Verification
After creating a profile for a printer, it can provide great quality print jobs. A couple of months later, the quality shifts in the wrong direction. Many variables such as replacing ink or print heads or using different substrates could cause this shift.
Before deciding to re-profile the machine, print out a control strip, measure it against a specified target and use a verification software system to view the results. Many applications record the status of a printer over time.
Measure charts and keep a trend report to assess printer performance. The shift may not be significant enough to warrant re-profiling the printer or you may find that it’s time to re-calibrate the machine.
If you do regular checkups on the profile of your printer and its performance through verification, you are using process control to maintain the condition of that printer.
The next post will talk about how to use those trending reports in verification software to control printing devices.