By Melissa Donovan
The May issue of Digital Output magazine shares insight on what print providers should be aware of when it comes to color managing digitally printed textiles. Not only the substrates, but the many parts of decoration process can present unpredictable variables that can make achieving direct color difficult. Spectrophotometers, RIP software, and viewing booths are important tools to utilize in overcoming color challenges.
In addition to tools and processes, resources are available to help manage color for textile applications.
Industry standards for color managing textiles are few and far between. “No known certifications are suitable or asked for by our clients. They would rather differentiate. At this stage, industry-standard aims are unlikely to match current production output. Even standard D50 lighting is seldom available or appropriate as the end products won’t be viewed in D50,” admits Dries Hublin, inkjet application specialist, Agfa.
Individual vendors do offer their own resources. For example, AVA CAD/CAM offers a large range of practical training from online, through group face-to-face training to one-to-one coaching. The courses cover general color theory as well as its practical application through software and hardware like 3D scanners and spectrophotometers.
There are several resources to learn the process of color management. Durst North America, for example, has an applications team that can train customers on the color management process from creation to implementation.
“For print businesses who are engaged in producing high-quality color output, a good first step is to look to the software provider for their training and certification workshops. Onyx Graphics, Inc., for example, includes a series of web-based and classroom trainings that offer hands-on application of what is taught to help its users get the most out of the software. In addition, it offers how-to documentation, a knowledge-base, videos, and other resources to help with learning our software,” says Jonathan Rogers, international marketing manager, Onyx Graphics.
X-Rite, Incorporated recently launched Fundamentals of Color and Appearance, an online virtual course. X-Rite also offers custom training and consulting to help customers identify where color errors happened and how to fix them. Consultants will help train your team on color management workflows and best practices.
Despite the lack of unified educational opportunities, Hublin sees a need to educate textile printers about the benefits of color management and provide focused training resources. “The need for some kind of certification may follow but defining standard aim values or color spaces is a huge challenge with so many variables. For CMYK textile printing, G7 grayscale may be a way to introduce the certification concept to this market with special, looser tolerances.”
John Ingraham, senior marketing specialist, dye-sub, Canon Solutions America, agrees that G7 can provide some assistance for gray balance and color calibration, but notes these standards are more applicable to commercial print and non-fabric signage.
Tools, processes, training, and certifications are important. They often need to be undertaken before beginning to print to textiles. “It is a good idea to put these in place before but can easily be added in after. They are very beneficial in reducing cost and production time,” recommends Jeremy Pilcher, textiles solutions architect, HP Inc.
“I think the learning curve and some experience with printing on textile is crucial before training. But this should be part of the ramp-up process when looking for high fidelity to color and getting high-quality results in printing on textile. Color management tools must be a part of printing on textile,” adds Sharon Donovich, senior marketing manager, Kornit Digital.
As a community, it is up to us to collectively create standards and certifications involved with color managing digitally printed textiles. It’s something that is in its infancy compared to a lot of other printed able substrates dealt with a on a regular basis, but not something that is unattainable.
May2022, Digital Output