Beyond the densitometer
Improve Pressroom Efficiencies – Part I
by Steve Rankin
While handheld densitometers have already been adopted in many flexographic pressrooms, it’s important to remember that these devices do not actually measure color and are therefore incapable of reporting the accuracy of brand or spot colors on press. The best that desitometers can do is to measure and report the densities (ink film thickness) of solid color patches and the tone value increase (TVI) of halftone dot areas. While these are both very important print metrics and can absolutely be used to establish some level of process control in the pressroom, the problem is that many brand customers have begun to specify color accuracy using measured CIELab values along with deltaE values as the acceptable tolerances regarding color accuracy. Therefore, press operators armed with only densitometers cannot know if brand color specifications have been achieved or the precise color changes that are necessary to get within these specifications. In these situations, with only with a densitometer, operators must still rely on their eyes both during make-ready to match colors and during the production run to ensure color consistency. The danger here is longer make-ready times, color that does not ever hit the specification, and inconsistent color throughout the run which can all lead to customer rejections, job re-makes, increased waste, and, ultimately, lower profitability for the printer.
Improve Pressroom Efficiencies – Part 2
Last week, we kicked off our 3-part blog series looking at “Good”, “Better”, and “Best” upgrade options for packaging printers to reduce their make-readies, improve their color matching process, and attain more consistent color throughout their pressruns. In part 1, we examined the benefits of switching from densitometers to handheld spectrophotometers in flexographic pressrooms. As discussed, this is a relatively easy upgrade because these instruments still measure the familiar process control metrics like density & TVI. However, spectrophotometers go well beyond the capabilities of densitometers and most importantly they also measure the true color values (CIELab) of brand and spot colors as well as the absolute color differences (deltaE) between brand colors and printed results. This week in Part 2, we explore a “Better” solution which details the benefits of using a pressroom spectrophotometer and adding press-side color quality software, such Techkon ChromaQA.
Improve Pressroom Efficiencies – Part 3
Two weeks ago, we kicked off our 3-part blog series looking at “Good”, “Better”, and “Best” upgrade options for packaging printers to reduce their make-readies, improve their color matching process, and attain more consistent color throughout their pressruns. In part 1, we examined the benefits of switching from densitometers to handheld spectrophotometers in flexographic pressrooms. In part 2, we looked at the benefits of adding press-side color quality software solutions to further increase the efficiencies of press operators. This week in Part 3, we explore the “Best” option for slashing press make-ready times, increasing color accuracy, and maintaining color consistency.