When wide format signage and display printer Abacus Print & Display of Mount Waverley, Melbourne approached David Crowther of Colour Graphic Services; it was to improve colour stability and accuracy from their stable of roll and flatbed machines. Walking into Abacus is like walking onto several movie stages; the walls bristle with vibrant graphics; faux brickwork, natural wood; flowers. One minute you’re in a mountain cabin; the next in Monet’s garden.
"Our previous training on colour with the rips and printers was sketchy, but we thought we could control colour just by rip settings. Our greys were sometimes coming out muddy with colour casts,” says Production Manager Jayson Armstrong. "With many demanding advertising agency clients, handling major brands, we needed to boost our colour capabilities.”
Crowther conducted a colour audit in late 2013 and reported back that, not only could he improve their colour through both the Onyx and Versaworks rips; he would match colour between solvent, UV flatbed and Latex wide format printers.
"At first Abacus owner Rob Tennant and myself found it hard to believe; after all David was coming from an offset background where ISO 12647-2 colour rules,” says Armstrong. "However, David assured us that colour management basics are the same irrespective of the output device, so we went with him.”
Starting with the HP Latex L25550 which has a built-in i1 spectrophotometer, Crowther proceeded to profile the machine and rip for Poly Pro media. "Although ISO 12647-2 is an offset standard, it can be very useful in wide format applications since it provides a ‘stake in the ground’ – something to aim for. With our Mellow Colour PrintSpec software, we get very detailed analysis and reports on what is going on with colour for any device – it’s pure spectral data we are principally dealing with,” he says.
The results showed an immediate improvement. The colour gamut was expanded, tonal graduations became smoother and neutral grays lost their greenish or reddish casts . The result was at over 90% of ISO 12647 standard for offset coated print.
"We were delighted at the improvement,” says Armstrong; "and so were our clients. It’s so important to us at Abacus to deliver the very best and this gave us an edge in the market that was noticeable. We said to David, move on to the Roland Soljet SJ1045.”
Crowther profiled the Soljet for SAV – self adhesive vinyl – using a stand alone X-Rite i1 Pro 2 and i1 Publish software for profiling. This time, the PrintSpec report showed that Abacus was hitting 94% of ISO 12647 standard, and the colours were popping; particularly the red used by the Salvation Army. "We were convinced,” says Armstrong, "and we knew we had to learn how to achieve such colour ourselves with the CHROMAtrain two-day course provided by Colour Graphic Services.”
In November, Crowther was back; this time to profile a brand new HP Latex L26500 and the Canon/Oce Arizona flatbed UV, but in a learning and tutorial environment. The two-day course imparted sufficient knowledge and the right tools for Abacus to now create its own profiles for any media.
"The amazing thing is that we are achieving very close matches between solvent, flatbed UV and Latex output – different inks, different curing, different printheads and rips; but it works! It takes about half a day to create a good ICC profile but the time is well worth the effort,” says Armstrong.
Abacus openly tells its customers they can achieve ISO 12647 standard colour in wide format, even though it can not be certified as such because it is an offset standard. It is reassuring to agencies and brand managers that their visual displays and signage will closely match their magazine and catalogue advertising .
"When it comes to colour management; I am agnostic towards the device,” says Crowther: "all inks and toners have an achievable gamut and, once mapped, we know what we are dealing with and can make the necessary adjustment to ICC profiles for various ink/media/rip/printer combinations.
ABOUT ABACUS PRINT & DISPLAY
Abacus was established in 2003 and acquired by Rob Tennant in 2013. It specializes in very high quality close-view reproduction of both flexible and rigid sign and display media and offers installation services. Melbourne’s Federation Square has been wrapped by Abacus along with diverse outdoor and indoor media, towed sign trailers, car wraps, floor graphics, POP and instore displays, real estate signs and more.
Roland Soljet 1045-EX
HP Latex L25550
HP Latex L26500
Canon/Oce Arizona 350GT
AOKE flatbed die-cutter
Roland GX-640 roll die cutter
Finishing, welding & laminating equipment
Address: 1/247 Ferntree Gully Rd, VIC 3145
T: (03) 9544 23244
As they say: ‘We’re always open.”