DIGITAL digest

Color Meets Its Match

GRANDVILLE, MI—Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, unfortunately, so too is the perception of color. Therefore, to be of practical use, any attempt to define colors objectively must be reconciled with the subjective way in which they are viewed. That’s why effective color management is such a desirable, yet often frustrating, goal.

The full scope of the challenge was made apparent during a press briefing held recently by X-Rite Inc. at its headquarters here. The event also brought home the point that the printing industry is not alone in facing this challenge. Some industries actually have it worse, since they must deal with the added variable of the third dimension—depth. Auto manufacturers, for example, must contend with the issue of a vehicle’s finish appearing different when viewed from an angle as opposed to head on.

The range of applications for color measurement devices—such as densitometers and spectrophotometers—may even hold a surprise or two for those used to focusing on print. A case in point is X-Rite’s new ShadeVision system for the dental market.

Shaped similar to a handheld hair dryer, the device reads the color of a tooth and the surrounding area. Measurements taken in a dentist chair then can be passed to a dental lab to guide the coloring of bridgework, crowns, etc., to better blend in with a patient’s mouth. With ShadeVision as its cornerstone, President Mike Ferrara says he expects X-Rite’s bio-diagnostics division to become a dominant market segment for the company within five years.

Building on this remote color workflow concept, there would seem to be a potential opportunity for cooperation between the various industry segments that measure the color characteristics of their products and the printers that reproduce these items in brochures, catalogs, ads, etc. For example, instead of trying to match the printed representation of a car to the transparency, why not use as a target the color data collected in the auto finishing quality control process?

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