4 keys to perfect color management for packaging and label printers

Getting colors right in packaging and labels can be challenging. The print quality is affected by a number of variables: prepress, substrates, printing process and inks.

Avoiding color corrections on press saves time and eliminates rejected jobs, but how can you get color right the first time?

There are 4 valuable keys for color management:

1. Working with spectral color data

Spectral data is the only true way to characterize a color. Spectral data is a fingerprint of how that color is built up, independent of lighting.

2. Predicting ink behavior

Aside from the standard four process colors CMYK, packaging typically uses spot colors. To be able to set expectations, the behavior of these special inks needs to be predicted with a high degree of accuracy.

A spot color overprint model, based on spectral data, truthfully predicts the interaction of those spot inks with the process inks, long before the design reaches the printing press. This enables you to create accurate proofs, mockups and color separations.

3. Expanded gamut printing

Using spot colors for almost each print job, conventional printers typically spend 50% - 60% of their production time washing and setting up the press. That is a problem in a world where ever shortening print runs squeeze your profit margins.

On a digital press it is not practical either to use special inks. As digital printing is designed to be economic for short run printing and variable data, changing special inks on each job has the opposite effect.

That is why many printers move to expanded gamut printing with a fixed ink set of five, six or seven inks. A fixed ink set matches most brand colors, and allows for a quick job turnaround, since the same inks are used in each print job.

4. Connecting through a central color database

The production of packaging involves multiple actors, who all have to manage color information correctly to produce an optimal result. So, effective color communication is vital.

  • In your own printing operation, a central database containing all relevant color assets, assures that all your operators work with the latest updates.
  • To also align the entire packaging supply chain on the latest color assets of a packaging project, you can connect your packaging prepress workflow to the PantoneLIVETM cloud. The PantoneLIVE cloud is a secured database of spectrally defined Pantone® and brand spot color references.

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