Hi-tech in the Printing Industry Often Means Color, Sharpness and Economy
April 12th, 2018
When we hear the term high technology – hi-tech for short – we often think of electronic devices that allow us to instantly communicate with more people, over longer distances.
But high technology has spread across the business spectrum over the past several decades and the printing industry is one of its many beneficiaries. For instance, while four-color printing has been around for a long time, advanced technology allows us to make sharper images, with far more capability to reproduce exactly what the job requires, often using CMYK or Pantone color processes among others.
What is the difference? Basically, CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, four base colors from which other colors can be created. Pantone® printing, on the other hand, known in the industry as the Pantone Matching System®, uses specific mixes of ink to create colors that exactly match the colors needed for specific jobs.
Pantone® is used among most conventional printers to recreate colors and artwork by referring to a standardized guide. The biggest plus of the Pantone system is that it consistently creates colors that are precise and much closer to the shades used in the design process. This means that separate clients in different places who want the same color can get it.
But this level of accuracy comes with a price – meaning it costs more. Since the Pantone process is more consistent it is the preferred method by many printers for large jobs that require specificity. Thus, smaller jobs that that need good quality but don’t necessarily require a specific shade, especially those with a tight budget, can benefit from the CMYK process. With CMYK, several jobs with similar requirements can be bundled, saving both the print shop and the customers.
With the Pantone process, however, the printer must be set up separately for each different print job, making it more cost effective to run large jobs using that process. In addition to accuracy and cost, CMYK and Pantone also differ when it comes to their compatibility with RGB, an on-screen color system.
RGB stands for red, green and blue and is used for online work, not for print production. Nonetheless, RGB can be converted into the CMYK printing color process, but some of the preciseness is sacrificed and there will be a noticeable change in hue because the color structure is built differently. One drawback to RGB is that it only works with CMYK and is incompatible with Pantone colors.
The differences between CMYK and Pantone should be considered when deciding which color process to use. For instance, if you run a business where brands and logos are embossed on various items, and there needs to be a consistency to the final product, it is best to use Pantone.
Conversely, large jobs that require good color but not as precise as that offered by Pantone, can benefit from the advantages of CMYK, especially if there are multiple projects that have similar color requirements. And it should be kept in mind that where the project budget is a major factor, CMYK delivers the best bang for the buck. For print jobs where exact color isn’t a concern, CMYK is the best choice, while jobs requiring specific color reproduction where cost is a secondary issue would be best suited to Pantone.