SpotOn! Press 4 keys to color consistency

4 Keys to Consistent Color – Series Intro

So, what is Consistent Color and why does it matter?

Consistent Color is about reliably producing the same results over and over again. It is about printing a file for approval and then two weeks later getting that approval for the production run, then having the results look the same as the approved print. It is about printing a job six months ago and getting an exact reorder today, and having no problems matching the original print run.

If the above scenarios are what you aspire to in your production, you might want to read on. The next 3 blogs will be a simplified version of what Bruce has learned over his 40 years of experience working to control the printing process. Here is a preview of what is ahead.

In our next blog post we will be talking about Hardware.

Key 1 – Hardware

 SpotOn! Press 4 keys to color consistency

When it comes to hardware, there are two main pieces that matter most: the printing device and the measuring device.

The first piece of hardware in consistent color is a printing device that can print with acceptable consistency over a period of time. No printing device is truly consistent, but one with low variance over a week is much better than one that prints one way at 8am and quite differently at 5pm.

What you will learn:

  • What can affect the consistency of your printer
  • How to determine the variability of your printer

The second piece of hardware is a measurement device that can consistently take measurements with a high degree of accuracy.

What you will learn:

  • What are the best measuring devices
  • How many patches to measure
  • Handheld devices verses automated devices

The third blog of the series will be about Software.

Key 2 – Software

 SpotOn! Press 4 keys to color consistency

Software runs the gamut from RIP (Raster Image Processor) to process control. Good RIPs will have tools for calibrating and profiling a printer. Many will also have options for monitoring consistency. Remember, if you aren’t measuring the device’s output, you cannot manage the device. To manage the color of a printing device means you have to be monitoring its consistency over time.

What you will learn:

  • What are important metrics to measure for tracking over time
  • What features are best in a software suite
  • What industry standards should be measured to

We will wrap up the series with Monitor and Commitment in the final blog.

Key 3 – Monitor

This is the act of taking readings of control strips and evaluating the results (remember, you need process control software to help you manage the measurements and monitor the process). Without monitoring the process on a consistent basis, there will be no way of knowing if the printing device is printing consistently. Further, collecting data without looking at it does no one any good. It’s a waste of time. However, if you are monitoring the printing device, you can take corrective action when it deviates from the desired path before it creates costly errors.

 SpotOn! Press 4 keys to color consistency

What you will learn:

  • What to measure
  • How often you should measure
  • How to group measurements for effective evaluation
  • What the measurements are telling you

Key 4 – Commitment

The difference between good ideas and getting results is commitment. Without it, successful color management is simply not possible. Commitment is the glue that holds the previously discussed keys together to create consistent color. Commitment is the investment that ensures the maximum return of your color management process creating satisfied customers and securing repeat business.

What you will learn:

  • Commitment as it relates to process control, compliance with print standards and necessary corrective action
  • How to integrate the steps within color management into your daily workflow to achieve the results you desire

In Summary

To recap, there are four simple keys to consistent color:

  1. Hardware that is well maintained, including the printing device and the measurement device
  2. Software that will help you evaluate the collected data
  3. Monitor the process and review the data
  4. Commitment to keep this process going day in and day out

Ultimately, following these four simple keys will make your life easier, reduce waste, improve profits, and reward you with happy customers. Be sure and tune in for the next blog where we will be diving deeper into Hardware!

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