It is no news that color is the main axis where the graphic industry is based. Historically the manufacturers of machinery for printing, and Comexi was no exception, had separated the design and construction of the machines from the processes linked to color management. However, we must not forget that the final objective for any printer is to obtain a printed substrate that meets the technical specifications set, complying with maximum productivity and efficiency in the plant, in addition to offering the highest quality.
Since the end of 2012, coinciding with the gestation of its Technology Center (Comexi CTec) and aligned with the mission of offering global value solutions to its customers, Comexi has integrated color and its management as part of the company's knowledge. This incorporation has led to the development and availability of a wide range of services and equipment focused on color management. The aim of Comexi is to share and transmit this knowledge, leading together with our customers an implementation process that, once in progress, will result in an increase in production efficiency, better quality of printed output and better control of the process.
During these last years, in parallel with the development of the Cingular Match automated color adjustment equipment, Comexi, through Manel Xifra Boada Technological Centre, has reinforced its leadership position in color management through the training and certification of its technical team, well as partnerships with leading companies in the market: color management software manufacturers, printing plates, inks and manufacturers of color measurement and color simulation equipment. It can be said that today, Comexi shares with its collaborators a powerful network that includes great professionals of different areas of the process of impression where the color has presence.
All this path in training and technical tests has been translated for Comexi in an accumulated experience that has served for the creation of new equipment and services linked to the management and control of the color that Comexi makes available to its customers.
A clear example of this recognized experience is the certificate in FlexProof / E, Color Engine that Esko awarded Comexi two years ago to CTec technicians as well as the complete training in Equinox modules. Certifications that have allowed Comexi to offer a wide range of products, services and technical support in color management, plate creation and optimization of work processes. At the same time, they allow Comexi to offer a better implementation of the facilities and a faster start-up.
Around 35% of the time of production of a packaging is dedicated to the adjustment of the color. These figures are taken from the average production ratios in the different flexographic printing areas. That is the reason why the control and optimization at this stage of the printing process is the key element to obtaining good results in production costs.
In this sense, Comexi has developed the Cingular Match concept as an integral solution to reduce time of color and control of inks.
Cingular Match is composed of two concepts within the same solution. The Cingular Match I (CMI) based on technical advice and implementation of methodology, and Cingular Match II (CM II), integrated equipment in the same machine that offers an automated adjustment of the direct colours.
The CMI, has a total reach over the final result in an impression since it contemplates the support in the four-color (and extended range) and control of direct colors. The implementation is divided into two independent and time-separated stages:
Optimum characterization of the machine: The main variables of direct influence in the printed result in four-color or extended range are initially fixed: support, ink, anilox, plates, sleeve / adhesive set, machine design and environmental conditions.
Once the standard working conditions are set, the characterization process is initiated through the printing of a mechanical test and, once the most suitable frames are selected and the minimum printable point is defined, the fingerprint test generated with the obtained data is printed with the previous mechanical test. From the printing of the fingerprint test with the optimal parameters of each print variable we obtain the information to generate compensation curves (grayscale and specific curves) as well as the color profile of the printer.
Color adjustment and ink management: In order to develop this stage, a first step is to achieve the reference color in the ink management area. For this, apart from the methodology, training in colorimetry (model Lab or Lch) and formulation of inks, it is necessary to have minimum equipment.
The CM II is a combination of hardware and software integrated in the machine, which helps the operator to make adjustments of direct colors in machine in a quick way. The colour adjustment is based on the spectral comparison of the reference colour with the printed colour, if the later differs from the ∆E set by the printer as an internal quality guideline, the equipment automatically calculates the necessary ink to add so the resulting color matches the reference ∆E. This process will be carried out a maximum of two times before obtaining a result according to the quality guideline.
Although it is not indispensable, it is recommended that before the CM II is carried out, the CMI has already been done. In this way we can consider that the area of colour management in printing is controlled by scientific procedures and not by specific skills of some members of the printing team.
By Albert López
CTec’s head of Training and Advisory Services Department
CTec’s Technical Advisor