Impressions of Global Print Expo 2019

by FESPA | 04/07/2019
Impressions of Global Print Expo 2019

Paul Lindström shares his impressions and coverage of the Global Print Expo 2019 in part 1 of 2 blogs.

One of the more exciting events in the graphic arts calendar is the FESPA exhibitions. This is in part because the digital wide format segment continuous to grow fast, but also because it’s a very well organised show with lots of good stuff going on, complementing what’s shown in the vendor’s booths. You can get plenty of news from trade press sites and publications. Our coverage of the show is in two parts, and here is the first.

Caption: During the FESPA exhibition in Munich a range of vendors and consultants collaborated in offering lectures and workshops on applied colour management in what was called the Colour L*A*B*. Here Laurel Brunner is educating visitors on the basics of colour management.
We at Digital Dots were invited to contribute to seminars and workshops in the new Colour L*A*B* section of the show. Strategically placed opposite the Club Fespa area, it drew quite a lot of attendees, both sitting down in the arena to listen to short lectures and presentations, and taking part in the 45 minute workshops. It was good to see the interest in applied colour management, and interesting to hear the wide array of questions that the attendees put to us.
At the same time several vendors of RIP systems used the FESPA event to announce support for the new colour profile format, ICC v5 (also called iccMAX). And Adobe graced us with their presence at FESPA, being part of the FESPA Colour L*A*B* programme, and launching new software at the show.

Collaboration among vendors

There is a whole range of vendors providing either software or hardware for colour management, and sometimes both, but some are more well known than others. We were glad to see that most of the more well known providers of for example spectrophotometers participated in the FESPA Colour L*A*B*, both with personnel and equipment. Just Normlicht provided state of the art LED based viewing booths, compliant to the ISO 3664 standard for viewing booths of course, while Eizo provided high end monitors for fast and accurate calibration compliant to the ISO 12646 standard. Barbieri, Techkon and X-Rite provided a range of spectrophotometers to try out and use for demonstrations, all compliant to the ISO 13655 standard. And not to forget – HP provided an ink chemist, to demonstrate the importance of good inks to achieve a consistent and repeatable result in print. We had staff and software from EFI to demonstrate the need for a good RIP system with colour management capacity to calibrate and characterise printing devices, and route the jobs in an efficient way. Epson, unchallenged as the vendor of choice for colour proofers, provided a 12-colour proofer with a built-in spectrophotometer to demonstrate automated and colour accurate hard copy contract proofing (compliant to the ISO 12647-7 standard). Last, but not least, we had Pantone staff to show the different products on offer to check that you get your spot colours right when printing, with accurate colour samples to compare with output from different printing devices using many different print technologies.

Caption: Key vendors of colour management related products collaborated in the Fespa Colour L*A*B* booth, for example Adobe, Barbieri, Efi, Epson, Eizo, HP, Just Normlicht, Pantone, Techkon and X-Rite. Here Rabea Paysen from X-Rite.
The FESPA show is probably the only exhibition where you can see prints made on virtually any possible substrate, and a common theme was the challenge it is to manage colours on so many types of substrates and printing devices. But it can be done, as long as you have the knowledge, software and hardware to do it.
It was really good to see how people who are normally competitors  could cooperate so effectively in the FESPA Colour L*A*B* arena. We hope FESPA makes this a permanent part of their bigger exhibition, since there is clearly a huge need amongst their members to learn more about applied colour management.

Some news on applied colour management

Just some months before the FESPA show an important update to the ICCstandard was published: ICC version 5, also called iccMAX. Version 5 doesn’t replace version 4, but rather complements it with a range of new features. For digital printers we think especially, support for better definition of spot colours through the use of spectral measurements, as well as support of different viewing conditions (not only D50) should be very useful for them and their customers.
Since few digital printers or presses can be loaded with true spot colours, using what is often called an Extended Colour Gamut (ECG) inkset, consisting of CMYK plus Orange, Green and Violet, should be able to reproduce up to 98% of for example the Pantone colour system. There are digital printers on the market already which support ECG, but we expect many more to follow. In practice it often means that the printer has ten, or up to twelve inks in the setup, since you still need light cyan and light magenta to produce smooth gradation in the highlight areas of an image. And for the same reason you probably want medium grey and light grey for smooth rendition of highlight areas in black-and-white photos.
Beside the new ICCstandard, ISO 20677, the technical committee for standards for graphics arts production, TC 130, has brought about a couple of other standards which should help in advanced colour management, which is what we mean when we talk about applying the Extended Colour Gamut. The use of spectral data through the Color eXchange Format (CxF) format, ISO 17972, is an important part of this, and the new standard  for measurements and calculations of spot colour values (ISO 20654 ) is another. Defining solid spot colours has been done for a long time, but to calibrate and define the whole tone curve of a spot colour is much more tricky. It includes checking and probably modifying the TVI (Tone Value Increase previously known as dot gain) curve for the spot colour, and while this is well established for the process colours CMYK, it’s definitely a challenge when it comes to spot colours. A function in ICC v5 called Spectral Blending will help, but that means that both the colour management software and RIP need to be ICC v5 compliant.
At the FESPA show in Munich Onyx launched version 19 of their RIP-system, compliant to ICC v5, and we expect more RIP vendors to follow. We suggest you nag your RIP vendor about if and when they will support ICC v5 – you may need those features sooner than you think.
This year’s FESPA was essentially a hardware and materials show, so the Colour L*A*B* added that vital workflow and data management component to the event. It’s clear that the graphics industry is increasingly in the data business, but what shapes the data and its colour appearance is ultimately the printing method, the inks and the substrate. Applied colour management is a means of establishing some edge over competitors and value additions for customers. This is probably why the FESPA Colour L*A*B* attracted so many inquisitive visitors.
This article was originally published at, by Digital Dots.

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