By Cassandra Balentine
Color management is an essential component of a successful print operation. With improved digital color capabilities, print providers are held continually to a higher standard for color matching.
Based in the Midwest, Meyers is a print services company that designs and manufactures a range of printed output including signs, labels, cards, and three-dimensional displays to support retail marketing. The company was founded in 1949 as a small print shop, which has evolved to a 250,000 square foot shop that includes flexographic, lithographic, digital print, and assembling and kitting capabilities. It employs a staff of 200. The company assists a range of clientele throughout the U.S. as well as Canada and Mexico.
The print provider serves many well-known brands and takes steps to ensure high-quality, consistent work across the board.
With a focus on promotions, labels, and wide format signage, color is especially important to Meyers. The company operates a Durst Rho P10, Inca Onset X3, HP Indigo, and MPS/Domino SymJet to meet its digital production needs.
The Durst Rho P10 is a wide format UV printer that offers a print resolution of up to 1,000 dpi for fine art print quality. The press prints on both rigid and roll media.
The Inca Onset X3 is a wide format flatbed device that outputs at speeds of up to 180 beds per hour. It features 14 channels that include three sets of CMYK plus the choice of white or orange inks.
The HP Indigo is a digital production press featuring HP’s liquid electrophotography (LEP) technology, which uses a direct contact transfer processes for high-quality imaging. The technology is designed to accurately replicate the gloss and texture of the substrate used.
For hybrid label production, the EF SYMJET press is a hybrid flexographic/inkjet solution. It is built with the standard MPS EF platform and an integrated Domino digital N610i inkjet printer.
Managing a range of technologies can be difficult for color-critical campaigns. To help assure its customers of its color expertise, the company recently received its 12th consecutive year of G7 Master Qualification from Idealliance.
G7 is a well-known standard that helps promote color confidence for the print provider and customer alike. There are three levels of compliance for G7 Master Qualification—G7 Grayscale, G7 Targeted, and G7 Colorspace. The organization says these levels demonstrate G7 Master capabilities by specified print condition and offer in-depth levels of distinction for G7 Master Printers around the globe. According to Idealliance, G7 Master Qualification is granted to a physical facility, equipment, or system. Qualification is valid for one calendar year and must be renewed annually.
“Receiving our G7 Master Qualification yearly is not only important to our customers, but it is also important to our internal customers. Being a G7 Master Printer shows our customers that we care about the way that their brands and products are displayed for everyone to see,” offers Josh Schiro, prepress manager, Meyers. “We want to make sure that we are producing the color expected by our customers on every job and across our presses. Implementing the G7 process helps our press operators achieve good color balance and consistency,” he adds.
For Meyers, color management doesn’t really differ by device. “We have a linear output that you adjust curves or profiles so that device points to the specification you want,” explains Schiro.
Some of the biggest challenges the company faces in terms of color management is day to day variables such as temperature, humidity, stock, presses, and inks, as each has a significant impact on the overall process, he shares.
To help address color management challenges, the company relies on good, calibrated spectrophotmeters. These devices help ensure consistent printing. “We use a combination of a few press variation softwares—including ChromaChecker and PressSign—on press,” offers Schiro. “This software is critical in making sure that our teams dial in to their press so they can print within the color specification and G7.”
Walking the Talk
While the company is confident in its color capabilities, the proof is in the pudding. Schiro walks us through a recent job where the customer required Meyers to match many different spot colors. “For us to be able to hit those on a digital press, color management is very important. We need to make sure that the press is calibrated every day and the color profiles are built correctly,” he explains. If the color profiles are not managed well, brand color spots can’t be hit on press. “We take daily readings to make sure that the press is printing properly and the color management profiles are still correct.”
Customer files go through multiple RIPs, which require the proper color management settings built into them. This ensures the files come out consistent whether they are proofing or printing. “We use one type of spectrophotometer to confirm the press is printing correctly and another to compare the spot colors back to the master to make sure we are matching,” adds Schiro.
For this particular job, Schiro says it used the GMG RIP to manage color so that the proof matches the Gracol 2013 specification. He explains that the color was then managed at press using press profiles so the final product matched the proof the customer signed off on.
Every customer is concerned with color. “As the market gets more competitive, brands want to make sure they stand out on the shelf and great color is one way to achieve that,” offers Schiro.
For print providers looking to step up their color management game, he provides some words of encouragement. “Be patient and learn. Go to conferences, seminars, or webinars. Ask questions. There are a lot of experts out there that are willing to help.”
He notes that the Printing Industries of America (PIA) Color Conference is a great venue for learning about color management. Color20 recently took place in January in San Diego, CA. The event included more than 50 sessions covering color management in the print and production, brand and design, and standards and research.
Schiro admits that there is always room to get better with color management. “We always keep an eye on new software, tools, or techniques so we can be more efficient out on press,” he shares.
With a variety of service offerings heavily focused on brand promotion, Meyers takes color management seriously. The company utilizes a range of software and hardware to ensure proper color matching across a range of technologies. As a G7 Master shop, customers are easily able to trust that their color is well represented and reproduced.
Jan2020, DPS Magazine