Sydney November 19th 2014 - Sydney wide format, POS and short run packaging specialist Sol Print has boosted colourconsistency, reduced wastage and achieved perfect cross-process colour matches after involving The Colour Doctor; David Crowther of Colour Graphic Services.
"It was a different kind of assignment at Sol Print," says Crowther. "They are a flatbed UV and Eco-solvent roll printer but must also match offset, screen and flexo work since most of their customers are world-leading brands. While I used ISO 12647-2 and the standard and Sol Print's studio Epson 9900 proofer is set up to proof ISO; the many special colours, such as Coke red, that are printed mean that every job is calibrated independently prior to production and not just Ripped to a particular ICC profile. It's custom colour at its best."
Sol Print was established in the late 1990s by Robert Otto to service the POS requirements of Beverage, Tobacco, Pharmaceutical and Entertainment brands. A requirement was that work had to match offset colour printed by leading Weatherill Park, Sydney printer Bright Print Group.
Managing Director Robert Otto says; "We have always taken a very critical approach to colour because we've had to; we must match all processes here. Through Bright Print, we found out about Colour Graphic Services and how they could ensure the right colour match every time, with minimum wastage of materials. The implementation is now complete and it has assisted our production considerably."
Sol Print uses a fleet of flatbed UV printers and 2.2 metre solvent roll machines but the printing side is only half of the story. All work that is printed goes through an elaborate value-adding transformation process involving laminating, die-cutting on either Kongsberg CAD tables or using conventional knife cutting formes and pressure and, in the case of sales support packs, extensive kitting and combining of products with presentation boxes.
The 'board engineering' side is under the direction of Renee Markwort who uses Esko's Artios CAD to design complex POS and packaging flats that are then assembled into free standing prototypes and 3D rendered for showing to clients. In a typical month, 15-20 new designs will be produced in all sizes.
Studio Manager Peter Taylor is responsible for making sure the digital files sent for printing are absolutely perfect. During the Colour Graphic Services assignment, he worked closely with David Crowther on each individual machine and Rip, adding software upgrades where necessary and developing profiles for Sol Print's most frequently used substrates. Alongside Taylor on the production floor is Robert Bullimore who operates the digital printing devices and manages the precision calibration of each job.
Every Job is a Custom One
Prior to producing any job, a series of test patterns are printed on the actual substrate and assessed for the exact match to target colour. Onyx PC Rips are used to drive the digital inkjet machines while the Epson 9900 proofer uses a calibrated ColorBurst Overdrive Mac Rip and produces verified ISO coated v2 proofs. All devices were linearisedand calibrated by Crowther during a series of visits over a three-month period. Measurement was performed using X-Rite instruments and profiles created in X-Rite i1 Publish software.
Reports showing colour standardisation were provided using the Mellow Colour PrintSpec system, resulting in sign-offs for 100% colour matches across all devices.
"Every digital print engine is different, even from the same manufacturer," says Crowther. "Following a highly structured approach, we check issues at every stage, make adjustments and eventually arrive at a scenario where we can match colour between all devices, to whatever standards exist within the client's organization, or to ISO if that is required."
Sol Print also print manages offset jobs but Robert Otto is finding this market increasingly challenging: "It's more of a service to customers as there is little or no profit in offset these days. Once we handle all of the logistics and job management, what margin there is quickly disappears. Because of all the value we are adding to digital wide format printed work, we are better off focusing on our core area of expertise."
Some of Sol Print's most impressive work is 150-250 run jobs of sales presentation packs for big brand clients. These must be of a very high standard as they are used to generate major orders for suppliers. They often feature innovative tip-ins; fold outs, sliding panels and 3D pop-ups and may include kitting with metal, glass and plastic components.
In one of Sol Print's meeting rooms; the table is covered with a self-healing cutting mat. It's here that a creative team brainstorms a new concept, slicing up pieces of material and assembling them before committing to a prototype or 3D rendering.
"We're a service business," says Otto; "nothing is too impossible for our customers. We even have to keep a bonded warehouse for our liquor customers when kitting alcoholic beverage displays and presentation packs together - it's a Customs and Excise requirement."
Now that Sol Print's colour management is completely under control following the Colour Doctor's involvement; the only way is up to even greater achievements.