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COLOR MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS -- Color Me Successful

April 2002
BY CAROLINE MILLER


The decision to implement a color management system was a no-brainer for Multi-Visual Products (MVP) owner Craig Graves. The Murrieta, CA-based company, which prints high-quality trading cards for youth sports leagues around the nation—as well as a line of magazine covers, calendars, enhanced team prints, magnets, stickers and mouse pads—had a color problem.

When the company began eight years ago, MVP had a code blue calibration process, including a scanner and an output device. The company had to tweak the output devices as best it could, but there were many colors that didn't match the original. "Our reject rates were very high," admits Graves. "We did a great deal of remakes, and the cost of remakes was expensive. A card that would normally cost 40 cents would cost $1.20 to remake."

Realizing it had a problem, the company entered the world of color management. "We learned how to do all the procedures and developed a workflow that would work. In terms of cost savings, remakes dropped a third by utilizing color management. Aside from less material waste, our labor costs were also reduced," he reports.

But, like many who attempt their first crack at color management, MVP's initial effort was not as successful as it could have been. The company continued to research color management options, according to Graves, and decided to integrate MonacoProfiler into its workflow. Every scanner, monitor, printer and output device, including two Indigo digital offset presses, are profiled and calibrated using the Monaco software.

With the previous solution, Graves estimates that in the year 2000 nearly 4,000 orders out of 800,000 digital products were reworks. "The price tag associated with this effort was nearly $20,000 in direct costs, but immeasurable in lost customer confidence," he remarks.

Success stories such as his make color management systems sound like a dream come true, but the reality is that getting to the level of MVP is not always easy. In fact, it tends to be very difficult, which is why integrating color management across an entire workflow continues to be a hard sell among printers.

For those who have taken the plunge successfully, however, the benefits range from material savings, faster makereadies, the ability to venture into remote proofing, providing a color-consistent product and improved customer satisfaction.

Still, getting to that point isn't half the battle; it's the entire war. "You don't come in one weekend and set up a color management system," notes Gregory Hill, manager of electronic systems for Sandy Alexander in Clifton, NJ. "It's an evolving process. You are always going to be tweaking and maintaining the system."
 

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