by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, Caslon & Company
Every manufacturer has a color management strategy, right? And they’re all pretty much the same, right? WRONG! I’ve had the opportunity to review several offerings from different vendors in the production space and each has taken different approaches with different benefits and limitations. Some leverage internal press knowledge and embedded spectrophotometers to speed up processing, which is great for shops which only use that manufacturer’s presses. Others provide suites of tools on popular digital front ends which support many, but not all presses. Recently I reviewed Ricoh’s color management strategy and they’ve taken an even broader approach.
Ricoh has coupled ORIS Press Matcher with a suite of color management professional services to provide a solution which encompasses all digital presses regardless of manufacturer, digital front end, or even devices like envelop printers that do not have DFEs. A benefit of this approach is that it works with inkjet, toner, large format, and even offset presses.
The trick is that ORIS Press Matcher takes an input file and generates a color-managed PDF file which can then be sent to the target device. The target device could be anything you’ve taken through the process of color management which makes this a really powerful concept. Also, ORIS Press Matcher is a very sophisticated software system which can accurately match presses and media to target profiles or to other presses.
So, what’s the catch?
Well, the catch is that, while Press Matcher is easy to use for printing; setting it up and profiling presses and media can be rather complex and time consuming. It is a very sophisticated solution with all kinds of sliders and settings to tweak the results and it needs to be that powerful since the point is for it to work with all types of presses.
Ricoh understands that while printers and in-plants need this type of color management power and flexibility most can’t justify the ROI of having a full-time, highly-trained color management expert on staff. So, they built a team of over 25 full-time G7 Consultants and G7 Experts to support customers using Press Matcher with varying levels of professional services. Some of the services Ricoh provides include:
- Color GAP Analysis to identify color management weaknesses
- Development and project management of a color management strategy
- A G7 Master Printer Qualification to train operators on how to achieve G7 output and to navigate the process of getting G7 Master Printer status.
- And a monthly or quarterly Color Conformance and Assistance service to establish initial setup criteria and to maintain these criteria over time.
I suspect that Ricoh chose this approach due to their press portfolio. They need to support ultra-high volume continuous feed inkjet presses as well as mid-production toner devices. Also, they seem to have embraced the strategy of focusing on cost effective, high quality, mid-production digital presses rather than building heavy production devices. This means that they probably often bid multiple mid-production presses when competing against a single heavy production device. There are lots of advantages to this approach such as price, performance and redundancy but it means that the output of those two presses needs to match spot on. And, that’s where ORIS Press Matcher with Ricoh’s G7 experts come in.
Take a look at my new Ricoh Color Management Services product briefing videos and see what you think.