For graphic designers and commercial printers, brand color consistency remains a challenge. Depending on what design software and printing platforms they use, ensuring that every print is accurate requires a sophisticated workflow, especially when the customer uses a spot color in their brand designs.
Production printers were slow to adopt digital systems as the color gamut differs between platforms. The way a color displays on a screen is radically different when reproduced on a printed page. Mainly, commercial printers need exact matches for their designs and not close approximates. To help printing houses improve their workflows on digital platforms, designers now use a Pantone color management system and the EFI Fiery controller to improve the accuracy of colors.
Why use a Fiery Controller for Color Management
The way a printer creates colors is different from the way it’s done on a screen. On digital displays, the base colors of red, green, and blue (also called RGB) combine to make up the entire available gamut. Digital printers by contrast use a four-color scheme that includes cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (or CMYK).
The difference in Gamut – Pantone vs RGB vs CMYK
Due to the difference in the two gamuts, graphic designers prefer to create designs in CMYK instead of RGB. In limited cases, a company may invest in an RGB printer but these devices are expensive and the technology never really became a viable solution or widely adopted. As CMYK printers come in all shapes and sizes, it made sense to improve the color management capabilities, ultimately helping designers to produce consistent brand colors on different platforms.
Pantone is the leader in color management systems. To compound a designer’s life, some customers use spot colors that require matching them with the Pantone equivalent. A Fiery controller enables designers to match Pantone and spot colors to a CMYK equivalent accurately.
How the Fiery Controller Matches Pantone and Spot Colors
A Fiery controller uses a Look Up Table (LUT) to match a spot color to a CMYK value. The available gamut of CMYK printers requires additional processing to be more accurate. Specifically, a calibrated Fiery controller does special processing using predefined profiles to simulate spot colors when printing from a CMYK gamut.
Using the spot color name as a key, a Fiery controller will match it with a true color value. True color values are a way to describe any color that’s visible to the human eye without limiting factors like ink, paper, or light. If no match exists, the controller will use native CMYK values provided with the design. When a match is available, Fiery will render the true color value with the associated output profile to find an optimal color match.
Measurement and Auto-Calibration of the Fiery Controller
Two types of Fiery controllers (or servers) are available, an integrated unit (built into the digital press) or a standalone server. To ensure accuracy, it’s necessary to calibrate the server using a color profiler. When calibrating the controller, it creates measurement data to help designers verify the results of their calibration process.
The controller creates a page with the color profile and by scanning this page, can recalibrate the color management systems based on the results. Fiery controllers come with a greyscale strip that designers use with the printed page to improve the color accuracy of the print management system.
The Importance of Color Consistency in Branding
When working with customer materials, color consistency is extremely important for graphic designers and commercial printers. As they use different digital presses or commercial-grade printers, keeping colors consistent has been a challenge even in the days of offset or mechanical rolling presses.
A Fiery controller provides for centralized color management on any range of connected devices. To set up the profiles and calibrate digital printers, the company may need additional help from a vendor or technician. Fiery uses a combination of hardware and software as a Raster Image Processor (RIP) to ensure color consistency for a single device or fleet of presses. Although the technology dates back to the 1990s, Fiery is still one of the best color management systems available to commercial printers and graphic designers today.
Improving Color Management with a Fiery Controller and Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises
For organizations that use multiple print production devices, adding a Fiery controller to the workflow can help improve color accuracy for every project. Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises provides a range of imaging technologies that can help commercial printers achieve higher accuracy and color consistency, including cost savings when using our Managed Print Services.
The advances in digital print production make it possible to reduce the cost of a project without compromising on quality. Donnellon McCarthy works with customers to find the best technologies that can streamline workflows, improve efficiency, and help them to operate more productively every day. With an optimized print production process and centralized color management system, any commercial printer can benefit by using our services.
Color plays an important role in branding. It’s often the first thing someone will remember about a brand and can affect how they feel towards a company. Contact DME for help with setting up your color management system today.