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Dr Abhay Sharma Discusses the Benefits of Extended Color Gamut Printing

Published on February 7, 2017

Dr. Abhay Sharma, Professor of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University, talks about the revolution Extended Color Gamut printing is bringing to color printing by using a fixed set of inks to achieve a wider color gamut, minimize the need for spot inks and custom manufacturing, and improve productivity. It's a revolution ... better color and less costly.

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By Robert Godwin on Feb 07, 2017

Has anyone shared the numbers to support the assertion that 7 color is more cost effective? I still have not seen a process color that compares to a spot color, so whether extended gamut is better remains a question.
The more relevant question to me is if anyone cares that spot color is better. Maybe a process color will satisfy most art director/brand owners.


By Cary Sherburne on Feb 07, 2017

I have anecdotal data from brands and converters but they are not willing to share publicly. I think cost and time savings will win out in the end, tho there will still be some need for spot colors. Remember when we used to say "acceptable color" in the early days of digital color printing? And printing companies said no way, never, my customers will not buy this? Well, customers did. The same thing will happen here. Just takes time.


By Gordon Pritchard on Feb 07, 2017

Most shops that I've been to that do extended gamut printing do not have 7 colors loaded on press at the same time. Typically it's either a 6 color press using two extended process inks (e.g. CMYK+OV) and then they just swap out one of the inks for the other extended process ink (e.g. CMYK+GV). The same strategy is used on 7 or 8 color presses - i.e. they use a 6/C process out of the 7. The extra units are reserved for specialty varnishes and/or metallics.

To Robert's question. The cost effectiveness comes from reducing the need to do wash ups, not needing to inventory inks nor waste time waiting for the inks to be formulated, and the ability to gang disparate jobs on the same press form without concern for the various spot colors that were specified. The spot color is not "better" it's just that the client specifying a spot color no longer adds production costs and there is no longer any limitations to the number of spot colors that can be specified by designers on any given print job.

For general commercial printers the economic benefits for extended gamut printing are mostly related to enabling gang runs - i.e. different client jobs on the same form. That reduces production costs which makes the printer more competitive while increasing profit margins. Many credit/debit cards and hotel key cards have been printed this way for years.

BTW the extra colors that Abhay listed are not necessarily OGV. There are many factors to consider which ink hues are appropriate for this type of work.


By Robert Godwin on Feb 07, 2017

Ok, time for weirdness check- Are the printers resisting lower costs (assuming the quality is as advertised) or is it the customer that prefers a more expensive solution? Not just being difficult, but someone in the decision chain is not accepting the premise.
And the term I have heard in the past is "pleasing-color", about as repulsive as acceptable color.


By Cary Sherburne on Feb 07, 2017

It's just the usual resistance to change, inertia, and lack of education on the benefits. No one is really out there pushing it, though in Europe I have seen Esko and Asahi pushing it. Maybe the brand owners need to push it from the perspective of consistency and faster time to market across a global supply chain. I also think it will gain the most traction in packaging and flexo


By Robert Godwin on Feb 07, 2017

" the extra colors that Abhay listed are not necessarily OGV"
This is not sounding like a standard, it is more like a Wild West turkey shoot.


By Cary Sherburne on Feb 07, 2017

I don't think it's that wild west though. Maybe they use blue instead of violet. None of the colors in the Pantone Extended Gamut guide take more than 3 colors. Maybe that guide is a facilitator for actually getting this process to critical mass. I don't know. It's only been out there less than 18 months. But at the Color Conference, Abhay and John The Math Guy were singing its praises.


By Gordon Pritchard on Feb 07, 2017

@Robert...As a printer you can adhere to industry print standards or you can set your own shop standards or you can do both. Businesses like iDealliance want to set an industry standard for this type of work. The printers that have been doing it in production for a few decades no have done so by setting their own in house standards which, IMHO, is the better way when it comes to labels and packaging work. As just one example, if you're doing work for Coca-Cola they're not going to accept their logo being printed with anything other than Coca-Cola Red. However, Coca-Cola Red is outside the CMYK gamut so it can be used as an EG ink. So your process set up might be CMYK RGV instead of CMYKOGV.
Adding to what Cary wrote, most printers are reactive rather than proactive so, unless they're pushed or forced to change their process - they don't. Printing this way also requires a certain amount of marketing savvy being applied by the printshop - and most don't have the skill. Another issue that can be a factor is that in labels and packaging there is (or was if I'm not up to date) an extensive prepress industry that owns the files and have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
If you're really interested in EG printing, visit your local grocery shops and bring a loupe. Have a close look at the house brands - many of them are printed with an EG process and FM screening. Also, when you're about to cast a package into your recycling bin, tear it open first and look at the QC patches and see if OGVRG inks were used. You may be surprised.


By Robert Godwin on Feb 07, 2017

Professors and Math Guys are supposed to debate and advocate. Business people need business, usually underpinned by need. I refer you to an important business concept that motivates most change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRl_sBg6GX8


By Gordon Pritchard on Feb 07, 2017

@Robert - That (video) is correct. Unfortunately many (probably most) print shops don't understand the economics of their business nor how technology can be leveraged to better their operations.
Do you print with FM screening?


By Robert Godwin on Feb 07, 2017

No, FM is not for us. Although we have looked at expanded gamut. No demand, and most of the print buying public doesn't take their loupe to the grocery store.
With a former employer we handled the prepress for Coca-Cola both domestically and for Europe packaging. Our initial audit determined 46 variations on Coke red in Europe alone. To be expected when there were 46 different printers. With the "wild west" comment made earlier, I was thinking of that specific instance. How does one practically corral all the touch points in the global manufacturing process? One guy uses ogv, another warm red and blue, etc. It is as though the imagined use is that all printing occurs in one shop and on one press. Simply not reality.


By Cary Sherburne on Feb 07, 2017

That's why Coke has implemented a statistical process control solution across the supply chain, or so they said in an FTA presentation a couple years ago


By Robert Godwin on Feb 07, 2017

Yeah, I think Schawk (SGK) still does their core prepress. And that is how they would manage it.


By Gordon Pritchard on Feb 07, 2017

@Robert - "No, FM is not for us. Although we have looked at expanded gamut. No demand, and most of the print buying public doesn't take their loupe to the grocery store."

That sums it up right there doesn't it. Even though, if you're an offset printer, using FM could reduce your ink consumption by about 20%.
For example: A typical offset printer spends 3%-5% of their gross on ink. So, a $15,000,000 a year printer spends about $600,000 on ink. At 4% ink usage reduction they’d save about $24K per year (a 2 and a half month payback) just by switching to FM screening. That doesn’t include FM's other economic/production benefits. It's the key reason that about 80% of phone directories and newspaper flyer inserts are printed FM. There's the money - and you're not doing it but waiting for demand?

You're right, the print buying public doesn't take their loupe to the grocery store, so why are those label and packaging printers using FM? Why won't they speak to Cary about what they're doing. I faced the same problem when I was marketing at Creo/Kodak. Our customers didn't want their competition to know what they were doing and how. So I ended up creating a spread sheet that listed over one thousand products to be found on grocery shelves that our sales and their prospects could use as samples of FM and/or EG printing. It was a real eye-opener for the printshops they called on.


By Robert Godwin on Feb 07, 2017

Gordon, OK I was incorrect (must have been an infusion of alternative facts...). For some of our products we do use FM, my bad. In fact, after asking I was made aware of how we are making that an option for select products. We have experienced seeing improvement in photographic reproduction and a reduction on more (Mor-Ray) patterns. But for some products it presented issues (my SME is actually working and I am bugging him a bit with all the questions). I am taking his word for it.
Interestingly, ink consumption did not impress in regard to savings. Trust me, if there significant savings FM would rule the roost.

These are real world observations BTW.


By Gordon Pritchard on Feb 07, 2017

Well, I thought you were concerned that I was spouting fake news LOL

Ink consumption savings is just one of a bundle of benefits and depending on the market you're in may or may not have a special value. In directory, flyer and newspaper printing it has massive value. In general commercial it has little value. Most printers don't know their costs of manufacture nor where they lose money so it can be hard for them to understand how to improve their process in order to save on costs. Plus there's a lot of misinformation out there to deal with (wrong information just repeated by experts or folks that have read about it but never actually done it).

I'd love to hear what issues you encountered. You can contact me at pritchardgordon (at) gmail (dot) com

(BTW, what I write comes from real world practical experience in hundreds of print shops from N.A. to Europe and Asia - when I was fully working in the business)


By Gordon Pritchard on Feb 07, 2017

Oh, and not to put too fine a point on it...you wrote: "Gordon, OK I was incorrect (must have been an infusion of alternative facts...). For some of our products we do use FM, my bad." don't you find it interesting that you weren't aware of what was being done in your own shop?
BTW, that's not an uncommon situation in many print shops.


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