How digital print facilitates improved colour management

04th June 2014 - Fine Cut

With technology advancing at a staggering pace, it is interesting to observe which manual and more traditional processes become entirely automated or replaced by digital versions and which ones manage to live on despite the technological takeover.

This is something that we at Fine Cut are particularly interested in, as we offer both screen print and digital print solutions - the former being the more traditional of the two. While we firmly believe there will always be a role to be fulfilled by screen print, as there are some things that we do with screen that we simply wouldn't be able to do digitally, there is no denying that the digital revolution has transformed some aspects of our printing operations.

One process that has been completely transformed is that of colour management. Here at Fine Cut, we use the Barbieri Scanning Software colour management system, which allows us to scan and match any colour to the lowest Delta E in a perceived colour spectrum. The lowest Delta E represents the distance between two different colours. What we do with Barbieri is we can put a colour sample under the scanner, which will read that colour and give us a reading to the lowest Delta E, which means you cannot get any nearer to that particular colour.

This sort of process is simply not possible using an entirely manual method or mixing inks by hand, as - while it is up for debate just what level of Delta E reading the naked eye can detect - it is undisputed that the human eye cannot distinguish a difference of the lowest Delta E in the same way that digital software can.

Simon Tourle - screen and digital print production technical manager - explains: "When a particular colour is allocated to a specific media, it is then locked in on our press image database for a guaranteed match every time the print is repeated."

This eliminates any problems that might occur should inks run out and need to be remixed, as we can guarantee we will get the closest possible colour match every single time.

"If you have a physical printer mixing colours and he goes on holiday, somebody else might need to take over and make the same colour, which is likely to be very different indeed, meaning labels will then be a different colour when they should be the same. This is not an issue anymore," Simon explains.

We may still need to use screen printing methods - for example, when using metallics or texturised inks - but this does not eliminate the fact that the digital revolution has transformed how we approach the range of colours in which we now print.

Talking further about the benefits of modern colour management systems such as this, our expert goes on to say: "We now benefit from a wider spectrum of achievable colours, as well as the welcome addition of white, which was not available at the outset of the digital print age and would have been a secondary screenprint process."

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