Defining, Aligning & Applying Them in Real-Time Production of the Forum 2018 Print Project
[Editor’s Note: This is the fourth installment in a series chronicling the Forum 2018 session “FIRST in Motion” and the wide web, flexible packaging pouch job at its center. Dr. Mark R. Mazur, an FTA Hall of Fame member, and Dr. Malcolm G. Keif of California Polytechnic State University served as the session’s co-chairs and authored the first article in the series, while a pair of articles written by Bob Coomes of Plastic Packaging Technologies LLC and FTA Hall of Fame Member Mark Samworth of Esko—both speakers in the session—comprised the second installment. The third installment came from another of the session’s speakers: Sean Teufler of Harper Corporation of America. Like this article, the remaining installment will also be authored by a session speaker: Richard Black of All Printing Resources Inc (APR).
Utilizing Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances (FIRST) workflow alongside modern ISO protocols, Forum 2018’s “FIRST in Motion” project stressed communication across supply chain partners and utilized multiple new standards created for our industry—that is, the package printing industry.
All the actors in the supply chain were clearly defined:
- Brand owners: Mark Mazur, FTA Hall of Fame; Joe Tuccitto, FTA director of education
- Printer: Plastic Packaging Technologies LLC (PPT)
- Designer: VENN49 Creative Lab
- Premedia: The ALC Group
- Plate maker: The ALC Group
- Support/back room staff: Richard Black, Mark Samworth, Steve Smiley, Sean Teufler
Standards & Their Users
That said, standards that specifically govern exact steps in the process were utilized as appropriate by our project’s brand development team, graphic designer and prepress service provider, and printer.
Specifically, the brand owner, designer, prepress technicians and printer alike embraced and abided by:
- ISO 17972-4 (Spot Color Development): CxF/X-4 was used for communication of spot colors as .ase (Adobe Swatch Exchange) file to the designer, CxF to ink formulation, and CxF for process control at the printer
- ISO 15339 – Part 2 (Selection of Reference Print Condition Aim): This was used by the brand owners to define the expectations of the CMYK portion of files and by the designer for file development, embedded into PDF/X for communication across all suppliers. CRPC-6 is also the aim for the printer to optimize and calibrate. The values from CRPC-6 become the target reporting against for the printer’s reporting. The other CRPCs are: CRPC-2 Corrugated Uncoated, CRPC-3 Corrugated Uncoated with Optical Brighteners, CRPC-4 Walmart work, CRPC-5 Corrugated Coated, and CRPC-6 Flexo Folding Carton, Wide Web Film and Narrow Web Film
- ISO 19303-1 (ISO Guidelines for Communication Across Packaging Supply Chain): This was developed by brand owners and suppliers, defining best practices in a technical report for alignment of global suppliers. It defines proper communication formats, proper lighting, instruments, reporting, and has an annex developed by FTA for best operating procedures for flexography
- ISO 13655 (Instrument Requirements): This should be followed by all users of measurement instruments across the entire supply chain, signifying all partners align to modern instruments
- ISO 3664:2009 (Lighting Requirements): This should be followed anywhere color is viewed and especially where color decisions are made, namely at the brand, designer, premedia, press and inspection stages of a job
- ISO 15390-6 (File Format- PDF/X-4): This is the standard way to communicate files with all components included and should be used by design and prepress. Proper PDF/X-4 contains fonts, images, dies, an ICC color profile defining expectations from creator, CxF/X-4 spectral data for ink formulation and process control by the printer in one small container. These files are native format for most all prepress systems dating from 2010
- ISO 15339 – Part 1 (Printing from Digital Data, Substrate Correction) and Part 2 – (Reference Dataset) ISO Datasets for Packaging: Part 1, primarily used by a printer and premedia provider, defines the process for aligning to a customer’s embedded profiles, including adjusting for alternate substrate requirements
- ISO 15076-1:2010 (ICC Profiles – Image Technology Color Management – Architecture, Profile Format and Data Structure): This is used by the brand owner, designer, premedia provider and printer to communicate a customer’s aims
- ISO 17972 (Spot Color Data): This is used by a brand to communicate unambiguous color details through the supply chain; by a designer in file creation; by premedia for color management; by an ink supplier to develop inks aligning to spectral curve; and by a printer for process control and reporting
- ISO 18620 (Plate Curve Communication): This provides a standard way to communicate plate or proofing curves and is used by premedia and plate making
- ISO 20654 (Spot Color Tone Value): This is used by a brand owner as CxF/X files are developed, and by premedia and print to align tone values of spot colors with Adobe creation software
- ISO 10128—Workflow, requiring file conversions to be made with TVI curves, Near Neutral Calibration (G7) or color management: For this project, we used near neutral curves supplemented with color management. It is the printer’s responsibility to align using the method that work best for incoming files
In our meetings to discuss all phases of the workflow required for the “FIRST in Motion” project, we (our CPC or brand owner team) decided to utilize one of the newest ISO standards—ISO 19303-1. This standard defines roles and responsibilities with standards communication tools for blind transfer, ICC profiles and CxF for color information, inclusive of images, fonts and layouts.
As the brand owners, Mark and Joe needed to determine the final package format and dimensions, color agreement and define brand colors with spectral reflectance. Printing was to be done wide web, with optimization and characterization. Spectral color was defined per ISO 15339.
The CRPC-6 ICC profile was used for the CMYK portion of the imagery. They also aligned on an FTA Red and FTA Blue using a Pantone guidebook, then defined the workflow to use 0/45 spectrophotometers at all locations and M0 measurement, to align with all parties’ software limitations.
The brand owners were responsible to deliver and use:
- Viewing conditions according to ISO 3664
- Instruments and settings for measurement verification compliant with ISO 13655
- Specification of aims and tolerances
- CMYK—aims of ICC profile or characterization data
- Spot or brand colors—CxF/X aims
- Registration requirements
- Design guide/overview of objectives
- Structural requirements
- Print sequence (creating an overprint simulation profile)
- Die line indications
- Minimum requirements for print and reporting
- CoA (certificate of analysis) and CoC (chain of custody) testing requirements and reporting requirements