Over the last few years, we have heard a lot about the circular economy and omnichannel marketing. While each is a trend in their own right, they are quickly converging on the print industry. To be successful in 2020, commercial printers will need to offer a wide range of print capabilities while demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and reducing waste.
In a circular economy, the goal is to eliminate waste and maximize the continual use of resources. Think of it as a loop that focuses on reusing, sharing, repairing, remanufacturing and recycling resources to minimize waste and pollution. For the printing industry it’s about creating a sustainable, green printing process that considers inks, materials, production efficiency, waste, and recycling.
Omnichannel marketing is about creating a unified company message and a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints. It involves a cross-channel, cross-media content strategy that integrates resources to improve the customer experience. The customer message is often personalized and leverages variable data printing. Brands and marketers that embrace an omnichannel marketing strategy look for print suppliers that can produce the finished product as well as a range of integrated marketing materials like packaging, POP signage, and advertising.
To be competitive, commercial printers must offer a wide range of services using multiple print formats, deliver exceptional quality, demonstrate sustainable manufacturing practices, and offer competitive pricing. Meeting all these requirements can be a tall order. Luckily there are many color management tools that help printers embrace these trends as they converge on the industry.
As most printers know, it’s one thing to specify a brand or special color but quite another to actually achieve it. This is because printing technology (inkjet, offset, wide format, label, etc.), ink system, substrate, and advanced finishing can all affect the final appearance of the color. In an omnichannel world, brand color must be consistent across all substrates and channels, both digital and physical.
A product campaign can include products, packaging, advertising, and store displays. All of the components need to match, even on multiple print components.
Tools like PantoneLIVE, a cloud-based color solution, make achieving accurate and repeatable color for omnichannel campaigns easier. PantoneLIVE provides spectrally-defined Pantone and spot color standards for a variety of printing technologies, ink types, and 34 of the most common printing substrates. Printers can use PantoneLIVE to better control resources and use them intelligently across different media to efficiently meet customer demands. Designers can use PantoneLIVE Design, an Adobe® plug-in, to preview how Pantone colors will react when applied to the most common print and packaging materials, further streamlining cross-media campaigns.
Commercial printers are investing in digital and inkjet printing to offer customers wide-format and industrial printing applications. This means digital production equipment must be profiled and calibrated for a new set of materials, including ceramics, textiles, glass, metal, wood, vinyl, plastics, thin films, cardboard, paper, and more.
However, many offset measurement solutions are not designed for industrial printing applications because they cannot accurately measure textured, rough, and uneven surfaces or accommodate various material thicknesses. This makes it hard for printers to achieve color quality when printing detailed patterns, metallic effects, or photographic images, leading to color errors, rework, and higher costs.
X-Rite’s new i1Pro 3 Plus color profiling device is just the tool for the job. With a larger aperture, and included polarization option it is specifically designed for industrial printing applications and new materials. Commercial printers looking to branching out from traditional print applications can use the i1Pro 3 Plus to quickly create ICC profiles for backlit signage or digital printing on almost any substrate and calibrate print production devices for the highest level of color accuracy.
Efficiency and eliminating waste are key components of a sustainable manufacturing strategy, but hitting color targets isn’t always fast or easy. Manually measuring color bars and making ink adjustments takes time and can be error-prone and leaves the press running, wasting paper and ink.
Adding closed-loop automation can further improve print manufacturing efficiency. These solutions use spectral data to monitor print quality and automatically adjust inks. Hitting color targets quickly the first time and staying in tolerance throughout the print job can dramatically reduce paper and ink costs.
During prepress, tools such as X-Rite’s IntelliTrax2 can automatically scan the color bar of a press sheet for instant, on-screen reports. The eXact handheld spectrophotometer can be used to control quality in the ink room or during production. For a connected color workflow, these tools work with the ColorCert Suite for real-time monitoring and reporting. The data can be used to make color adjustments and better utilize existing people, processes, and technologies throughout the print workflow.
In a circular economy, printers need to reuse and recycle all of those leftover inks sitting on the shelf. With Ink Formulation software, printers can leverage leftover inks and match special colors, a sure-fire way to reduce material waste and time.
Selecting the right tools and software can help commercial and package printers embrace 2020 trends with existing presses and production technology and find success in the growing circular economy and omnichannel print arena.