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ICC Color Management -- Saving Time And Money

May 2004
"On a $1,000-per-hour web press, it's almost unimaginable how expensive it is to not match color on the press," says Michael Graff, senior executive vice president at Sandy Alexander Printing in Clifton, NJ.

These days, however, plate remakes due to color issues are down to 20 percent of what they were before, Graff reports. "We've had a perceptible improvement in time of matching proofs, and our makeready time is down considerably."

Repeated rounds of color proofing used to be very costly for Que-Net Media, as well, reveals Brian Gaughen, color quality manager of the Quebecor World subsidiary in Los Angeles. But, recently, "we've taken the Spiegel account from four or five rounds of color down to one or two—with a $90,000 savings in materials alone over two quarters, just from this one account."

These financial and productivity payoffs are among the early benefits of adopting color management based on profile specifications developed by the International Color Consortium (ICC). From photographers to magazine publishers to motion pictures, professionals who deal with color images are increasingly using ICC color management to solve problems of consistency and control that have dogged them for years.

This adoption has accelerated as ICC and its members have refined the specification and crafted solutions for specific implementation difficulties that arose in the marketplace.

"We're in a very aggressive developmental stage right now," notes Michael Rodriguez, technical director at RR Donnelley. "Color management is being used quite widely right now. People are getting into it and discovering what needs to be tweaked to make it work really well. All of the problematic aspects are being identified and developers are working on solutions."

Key Cog in CIM Workflow

Many industry players see effective color management as the key to realizing all the benefits of fully digital workflows, along with the completely computer-automated manufacturing processes print will require to remain competitive in the future.

Today's printer lives in a world of shrinking turnaround times, enormous pressure to cut costs and virtually no margin for errors. It's a world in which plate remakes can eat up the entire profit of a job, and clients just don't want to wait until the fifth try before the color is right.

Going digital has brought the printing industry many opportunities for new efficiencies and speed. But those opportunities came packaged with challenges, particularly when a print job had to be handled by a series of different devices from different manufacturers, each of which interpreted and displayed color in its own way.


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