Note: Joe Pasky wrote this post.
Last year, I worked with a well-established company in Pennsylvania that specializes in ‘museum quality’ art and photography books. They were considering several titles for their first Asia production attempt.
But the company had a concern that the quality that their reputation was built upon would not be upheld by the new contract facility.
Additionally, they wanted to implement a color control and monitoring process at their U.S. factory.
Color Control Between Facilities
They wanted to bring the proofing of both facilities to within 90%+ of GRACoL 2013 target values.
We matched the printing color to these accurate proofs. We wanted to ensure their customers continued to receive the same high quality products. The company would be able to efficiently control color in two facilities nearly 8,000 miles apart.
Bringing In The Color Experts
First, we realized this was a job for color experts. So we asked Bruce Bayne from Alder Technologies to spend several days in the Pennsylvania facility and calibrate their new Epson SC9900 proofer. He also installed SpotOn Color Verify to bring their quality monitoring and QC assurance procedures to the next level.
Moving forward, they would use Verify to control the print process by monitoring and tracking the consistency and accuracy of proofs made in the US and abroad.
Next, the Cathay America team used SpotOn Color Verify to calibrate and monitor the Epson proofers at the printer’s new facility in Shenzhen, China. Verify’s Visual Match feature guided our calibration work and helped ensure proofers on two continents would match accurately.
Finally, we calibrated the U.S. based press. The Cathay America team calibrated the presses in China. Both were able to achieve GRACoL2013/CGATS/CRPC6 target values. This was the last step to bring all of the proofing and production devices into alignment.
We implemented a global monitoring and QC assurance system that would allow our customer to achieve the same high quality press work over time.
We impressed our customer by the quality of their first prints from Asia. The U.S. client/printer and the photographer whose work we reproduced were thrilled with the quality of the images in this very impressive book. Most importantly, our U.S. client was confident that he could print his high quality museum editions at our China facility.
Moving forward, many more titles are produced with excellent color. This was possible because of our process control program enabled by SpotOn Verify.
The details of our method are below.
Using SpotOn Color Verify to monitor and control presswork.
The Methodology of Color Control
The printer had 10 fairly new, well-maintained Komori presses, each with an Intellitrax scanning spectro. But the intellitrax software was several generations old and didn’t report anything more that solid ink densities (SID).
This limited color data was simply not enough information to tightly monitor production printing. We could not achieve the accurate and consistent color control that we required. The printed images were quite well known. Our client needed assurance that the original images would reproduce accurately.
Finally, we decided to print on a slightly larger press sheet so that we could add a second set of colors bars to the sheet.
We placed one control strip in each of the four alleys of the book pages below the Intellitrax scanner’s control strip. These 18-patch, custom color control strips are designed to be scanned by an i1Pro2. After scanning, we sent the measurement data to SpotOn Color Verify.
Press proofing key images before the production run. Notice the SpotOn Color Version 2 color control strips that run vertically. We could use SpotOn Color Analyze to measure and display comprehensive printing data.
When A Shift Happens In Color Control
If the press has shifted, the ink can be leveled accurately by scanning the press color bar with X-Rite’s Intellitrax system. Then, you can scan the custom color control strips in each of the four alleys. We used the i1Pro2 and SpotOn Verify to monitor compliance with CGATS21/CRPC6 target values.
Finally, we used Verify to display the data from each scan for the operator to evaluate compliance. If the press is out of compliance, the operator can take further corrective action to bring the press back into tolerance.
You can achieve great color and you can maintain it efficiently over time. You need the desire to control the process.
– Joseph J. Pasky, Shenzhen
Patches: C, C50, M, M50, Y, Y50, Red, Green, Blue, 3/c Black, 100k, 25k, 25cmy, 50k, 50cmy, 75k, 75cmy, paper white