By Erik Schmitt
With the growth and demand for wide-format and inkjet-printed products, this work now comes from two merging types of print providers: those who originally came from large-format and are expanding their offerings, and those who came from commercial print and have invested in their capacity to include large format. No matter their legacies, anyone involved in large-format print typically produces a wide variety of products. It’s important to not forget colour’s
Large-format print needs a different printing process than those for brochures or packaging. And, along with the rise of adoption rates of digital production systems and wide format, quality demands have escalated. The aspects of a mixed environment with offset, digital, and large format from one facility presents many colour challenges.
Common to all marketing and brand needs is that colour impression has to be accurate and consistent, whether for bus stops, building wraps, marketing collateral, point-of-sale (POS) displays—and even fleet graphics.
To maintain existing customers and attract new, higher-end clients, print service providers need consistent, high-quality output. If one is alarmed at the rate their trash bins and ink waste bottles are filling up while trying to get the customer’s colour right, a more efficient colour management system is likely in order.
What does a company need for accurate and predictable colour? A campaign can stretch across multiple technologies. Whether ultraviolet (UV), solvent, latex, digital toner, or offset, one needs to sync all of these devices and processes for a common print appearance. A print provider also needs to be consistent.
If one cannot repeat the same colour today, tomorrow, or next week, there are risks to customer satisfaction or new business and, ultimately, profitability is at risk.
To guarantee uniform appearance, many prepress technicians have to manually convert and retouch files. This can be quite laborious and means considerable time, material, and costs. Further, there is no guarantee a mistake will not occur. Using multiple print technologies and raster image processors (RIPs), and digital front-ends, combined with a variety of substrates, any print provider runs into the daily challenge of how to address consistenty.
In commercial printing, matching one device to another can be pretty straightforward. Inks and substrates are usually standardized, and target densities and lab values have been defined. However, with wide-format printing, one not only has many different brands of printers, but also a huge variety of media and ink sets that are vastly different (e.g. solvent, UV-curable, dye sublimation, and aqueous have different pigmentation depending on the vendor).