Digital color communication in printing processes

Press, Packaging

Digital color communication in printing processes – case study by SAUERESSIG und ppg > flexofilm highlights benefits

As a result of advances in digitalization, a lot has changed in the packaging and printing industry in recent years. How digital color communication in printing processes compares to the conventional process of ink formulation was tested by SAUERESSIG in cooperation with the innovative packaging specialist ppg > flexofilm.

The lasting impression of packaging, and, as a result, the outstanding placement of the product on the shelf in conjunction with a consistent brand identity are top priority for retail brands and experts from the packaging industry. The requirements placed on a balanced color concept, the achievement of color targets and a consistently high print quality are clearly defined. Until now, the process of color control has been associated with an enormous expense of resources such as time, material, and energy. To ensure color fastness on packaging, physical mock-ups are produced, long set-up times are required at the press, test prints are run, and print approvals are made in person on site. But how could consequent savings of resources in printing processes and a continuous color communication based on digital processes look like? Which are the benefits as compared to conventional methods?

In conducting the case study in cooperation with ppg > flexofilm, the color technicians from c.INKTEC have tried out the benefits of the innovative process. Under production conditions, they tested the ink formulation and settings for the gravure printing process of flexible packaging on a Rotomec RS 4004 press. The conventional process of ink setting using purely visual methods was compared with the new digital SAUERESSIG c.INKTEC workflow. Both processes were qualitatively compared and tested by spectrophotometric measurements.

In order to enable a smooth and continuous digital color communication in printing processes from the beginning to the end of the process chain, the c.INKTEC workflow already integrates within the design to print process at an earlier stage. Ahead of the printing process, and by using the ingenio laboratory printing machines, the c.INKTEC color technicians matched the ink to the required specifications for gravure printing and adapted it to the original substrate. By creating the ink formulation in the laboratory environment, the printing inks could be tested and validated in advance. The color separations could be used to adjust the repro data, in order to subsequently achieve the desired result on the production machine without any additional effortful color control on site. The cloud-based software solution c.CLOUD, part of the SAUERESSIG portfolio, also came into use. It centrally stores all the information on the colors that have been created as well as the respective associated ink formulation – so that it can be reached anytime, anywhere in the world. Provided plug-ins allow the color specifications to be integrated directly into the process.

The results of the study are promising. Ingo Büning, Senior Sales Manager of the SAUERESSIG Group, is convinced that color deviations of the production run to proof will soon be a thing of the past and states: “The analysis has shown that good preparatory work in color communication pays off. Costly and time-consuming corrections on the press can definitely be avoided.“ Savings of resources in printing processes can therefore be considered as one of the greatest benefits of this proceeding. Thanks to the holistic approach, the process optimizations can also add benefit in follow-up projects. c.CLOUD conveniently handles digital color communication between all stakeholders and provides complete transparency along the entire supply chain.

But the possibilities of digitalization in printing processes are far from exhausted. The next big step into the future is the development of virtual reality-supported processes that will enable business partners to move through the world of color regardless of time and place. “With these new possibilities, we will be able to enter a whole new dimension in the world of color in the near future, experience products virtually and interlock our processes even more closely,“ says Christian Groh.

On a sustainable path along a globalized value chain, SAUERESSIG is making a positive contribution to the transformation to resource-conserving cycles – not only reshaping the way we work, but also the supply chain in the packaging and printing industry.

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