Frequently Asked Questions

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About SpotOn!

What type of printers would benefit from SpotOn! software?

Commercial (sheetfed) or Publication (web) printing.

Who in our shop can use it?

Quality control, prepress, or pressroom personnel

What does it do?

SpotOn! is a product that is design to help printers save money in the pressroom by helping:

  • Reduce the cost of calibrating a press to an ISO12647 based print specification
  • Reduce the make-ready required to run jobs using an ISO12647 based print specification
  • Reduce on-going cost and increase customer satisfaction by providing a means to quickly evaluate print specification compliance
  • Reduce long term costs associated with maintenance by tracking and reporting print performance over time

What is it used for?

  1. Calibrate Press Gamut to ISO12647
    Assist press operators in calibrating their press to ISO12647 based print specifications. (FOGRA/GRACoL/SWOP)
    Why do this?
    The solid ink behavior of a press has a huge impact on the press’ gamut and color behavior. ISO12647 based print specifications require that the reproduction of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black—as well as the reproduction of Red, Green, and Blue solid overprints—each be reproduced with a specific color. Spot-On! helps the press operator determine the correct ink densities required to attain the specific solid and overprint ink colors defined in the ISO 12647 standard.
  2. Track and report on-going press performance
    Provide graphical feedback of long-term press performance to better understand press variability and its impact on quality and compliance.
    Why do this?
    There are hundreds of variables on press that influence color. By tracking press color performance, businesses can better understand the stability of these variables and take the appropriate measures to maintain the print consistency that their customers demand. Using SpotOn!, printers can chart visual print metrics (color and graybalance) performance against mechanical print metrics (density and dot-gain). Having this information in hand, business can better detect the source of their press variability and plan maintenance cycles – making educated consumable purchase decisions accordingly.

What are the system requirements?

Software Platform:

  • Mac OSX 10.4/10.5
  • Windows XP/Vista

Measurement Hardware:

  • i1 Pro Spectrophotometer

On Press:

  • ISO-12647 compliant inks
  • ISO-12647 compliant paper stock
  • SpotOn! compatible color bar on press sheets

What if I am not doing G7® – can I still use SpotOn!?

Yes, you can still use SpotOn!, however, in this current version you would only be utilizing about 50% of the tools capabilities. Future releases will include additional standards to track and trend by.

Do I have to use an i1 Spectrophotometer?

In the current version of the software, yes. SpotOn! Press is developing code to acquire data from other scanning devices as well.

Why can’t I keep my press in tolerance?

Many variables affect how a press prints. SpotOn! is tracking performance of ink on paper. Paper alone can be one of the biggest variables, affecting print performance dramatically. The temperature and humidity also play a significant role. These are a few variables that you have very little control over, which can affect printing in many ways. The goal isn’t to be perfect all the time – I don’t think that is possible – but if you print to a target and strive to hit that target, the average of all your jobs will be within specification. You can’t pick just one press sheet and determine whether or not the press was printing to specification. Presses require averaged data over the entire run to determine how close to specification the job ran.

Can I run the SpotOn! Control Strip horizontally?

If you are using a scanning device to monitor ink key settings across the sheet you can probably get away with running one or two bars across the sheet. If you are using a hand-held measurement device, I would advise against running the control strip horizontally. The strip needs to be printed with consistent inking, and to achieve this, requires the strip use as few ink zones as possible.

About G7

What is G7®?

G7® specifies the components of an image that define a similar “visual appearance” to the human eye.  To do this, the G7 Specification:

  • defines a colormetric definition for gray balance
  • specifies gray balance in the midtones, image weight and image contrast from the highlights to the shadows are the factors that determine likeness of the visual appearance of an image
  • defines the ideal colorimetric black and CMY gray-tone curves for an image
  • specifies a step-by-step method for calibrating proofing systems and presses to these tone curves

G7® development was driven by print buyers and agencies. Buyers were pleased with print quality. , they were frustrated because yet while everything was printed to the “numbers” when compared side by side the visual appearance did not appear to match based on principles of digital imaging, spectrophotometry, and computer-to-plate (CtP) technologies. G7® is currently being applied to many types of printing including commercial and publication printing, newsprint and even flexo. This publication utilizes the existing ISO 12647 Standards as the basis for good printing. G7® specifies printing with inks defined by ISO 2846-1 so that the dry solids measure as close as possible to the ISO CIELab values for seven colors—the four primary colors and three 2-color overprints specified in ISO 12647. Because our goal is to simplify calibration help the printers reliably achieve a close “visual match” from proof to press, G7® breaks from tradition by focusing on colorimetric data for gray balance in the mid-tones rather than on densitometric aims, i.e. dot gain, for each color. G7® is named for its gray scale calibration technique and the 7 ISO ink colors it requires. G7® is a trademark of IDEAlliance. Although G7® was developed by the efforts of the GRACoL Committee, it should not be confused with GRACoL or with GRACoL 7.
NOTE: G7® is a registered trademark of IDEAlliance.

Who Developed G7®?

The basics of G7® were developed by its inventor Don Hutcheson, Hutchcolor LLC. Hutcheson granted to IDEAlliance intellectual property rights, free-of-charge, including the right to publish IDEAlliance specifications based on this intellectual property, the right to develop and deliver training materials based on the IP, and the right to use the intellectual property as the basis for IDEAlliance programs. Hutcheson and a team from the IDEAlliance GRACoL Committee refined the process controls defining visual similarity and G7® was first published as an IDEAlliance Specification in 2007. Today, because of its broad application beyond sheetfed offset printing, G7® is advanced and maintained by the IDEAlliance Print Properties and Colorimetrics Working Group.

What does the G7® mean?

The name G7® was derived from “G” for gray balance and the 7 ISO colors, CMYK/RGB. G7® is not the same as GRACoL 7 which was the 7th Edition of the IDEAlliance GRACoL Specification.

Is G7® a printing standard? Or a proofing standard?

Actually G7® is neither a printing standard nor a proofing standard. In fact, it is not a standard at all. G7® defines process controls for the neutrality and tonality of an image whether on a proof or from a press of any kind.

Is G7® the same as GRACoL? SWOP?

GRACoL provides specifications and guidelines for commercial sheetfed offset printing. SWOP provides specifications and guidelines for publication web offset and gravure printing. Both specifications address proofing as well. While G7® was developed under the jurisdiction of the IDEAlliance GRACoL Committee, its application today is far beyond the world of commercial sheetfed printing.

The G7® gray balance and Neutral Print Density Curves are being used to develop a family of characterization data sets (i.e. profiles) that for the first time have a shared visual appearance. The new IDEAlliance characterization data sets for GRACoL and SWOP were both developed based on G7®. When compared visually, GRACoL and SWOP proofs and printed output have an amazing similarity. This is because the image neutrality and the tonality are identical for both GRACoL and SWOP. In years to come we expect to see the family of characterization datasets based on G7® to grow, enabling print buys across printing device types and substrates to have a shared visual appearance despite differences in substrate, gamut, and device-dependent printing characteristics

Does G7 compete with ISO standards?

IDEAlliance has always intended that their G7® efforts be in compliance with ISO 12647. For the sheetfed offset world we recommend using inks compliant with ISO 2846. We believe G7® compliments and enhances existing ISO standards. In places where G7® provides innovations beyond ISO 12647, those innovations are submitted to ANSI/CGATS and from there to ISO for inclusion in the body of international standards. We have contributed to the new draft specification ISO TR 10126 which includes G7® process controls documented as the “Near Neutral” methodology.

Are there Different G7® Conformance Levels?

The Print Properties and Colorimetrics Committee has identified two conformance levels for G7®:

  • G7-GT complies with the G7® gray balance and tonality specifications.  It does not apply color management but focuses on achieving tight tolerances for gray balance and for the neutral print density curve.
  • G7® Targeted complies with the G7® gray balance and tonality specifications but in addition uses color management to achieve a color match to an aim characterization data set.  So G7® GRACoL meets GRACoL aims in addition to matching the G7® gray balance and NPDCs.  And G7® SWOP meets SWOP aims in addition to matching the gray balance and tone curves.