Color Control and Standardization across printing technologies

  • Packaging Market
  • Commercial Market
  • Digital Market
  • Web-based
    Production Monitoring
  • Color Management
  • Process Control
  • Color Conformance

Success Stories

Sandy Alexander Prints Consistent Color on both Digital and Offset presses with Alwan

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Everything in the way of campaign - related printing from digital to wide & grand format and everything in-between. Being platform agnostic, Sandy Alexander will print the most impactful marketing piece in the most environmentally efficient manner possible regardless of size, quantity or substrate.

«We recognized some years back that in order to efficiently achieve the color quality our clients were looking for we had to print to standards and we had to work with color management tools,» states Gregory Hill, Manager of Prepress Systems At Sandy Alexander. “Today, most printers know that ICC profiles are beneficial when you have different printing processes (like offset lithography and digital) and print on a variety of substrates. I like to describe the two problems printers face as “source” and “destination”

Source problems
«Printers today are challenged by being supplied with PDF Files from graphic designers who are using the defaults settings for color management», states Hill. (NDLR The default profile in Adobe Photoshop is SWOP US Web Coated Profile.) «SWOP is a profile that was generated years ago for printing publications. We’re not printing publications. We’re printing different products on offset and digital presses using coated and uncoated stock, along with vinyl and mesh. But, probably 75% of the files we get (“source”) comes in with that default color profile because graphic designers don’t understand color management

Destination problems
«GRACoL was created for offset lithography. It wasn’t created for a digital press,» continues Hill. «For example, we have HP Indigo digital presses here at Sandy Alexander. The magenta ink on the HP Indigo press is not the same color as magenta process ink on a lithographic press that meets G7 specifications and that would be used for GRACoL. Even when printing offset, the cyan ink on a litho press looks darker and redder on an uncoated stock than on a coated stock. The “destination” information, more times than not, is based on a custom ICC profile». Sandy Alexander recognized that in order to efficiently satisfy the color demands of its clients, they had to work to specific printing standards with color management tools and ICC profiles. What Sandy Alexander needed was an automated way to resolve this problem of “source” and “destination”.

«If we were printing a billboard of a red car in our wide format division and a companion piece in the litho department, we needed those colors to match,» Hill said. «The ability to automate all of this is what Alwan ColorHub brought to the table. Think of it as a piece of magic that allows you to match color if it goes from a grand format digital press that prints on a rigid substrate or uses an inkjet process on a digital wide format device printing on a roll of vinyl for signage. ColorHub is the means for letting ICC profiles talk the same language to a multitude of devices.” “To work with a PDF file with color management tools can be rather difficult. But, with the Alwan product it’s really quite simple. It handles color management for PDF files. What is unique is that we’re able to control images and line work independently from one another. When a client provides a PDF file, we may want to handle the type one way, and the images a different way. We can do that with Alwan ColorHub

«Another very big benefit is the ability to control the black channel. In offset litho printing particularly, and also in digital printing, the control of the black channel is supremely important. Alwan ColorHub has an elegant control for black generation and gray component replacement (GCR)

Let’s go back to the original problem of “source” and “destination”. «I’ve got source information now and destination information and I’m adjusting from one to the other,» comments Hill. «I can take that sub-standard SWOP file that comes in and turn it around and make it suitable for a variety of different output conditions. For example, this morning, I’m working on a women’s clothing catalog. This particular clothing catalog is going to be printed litho. The images have grayish neutral backgrounds. But, of course, the models that are wearing the clothes, have skin tones that have to be taken into consideration. The ability to control the black generation differently in the skin tone areas versus the neutral backgrounds is, typically, extremely difficult to do. Alwan ColorHub makes it easy.»

«The approach here at Sandy Alexander has always been to satisfy a client in both quality and service. The turnaround time is really quick in the commercial printing world right now. I think that in commercial printing it’s almost like newspapers use to be. The job comes in at night and it’s got to be out the next morning. Years ago, we used to have days to get things done. Today, the turnaround is often overnight. If I have 64 pages that need to be turnaround very quickly we’re able to actually assemble the job, have it all ready to go, and then an operator drops it in a ColorHub hot folder and it just eats it right up. It chews right through it. From a speed standpoint it’s terrific because we’re able to turn things around very quickly in a way that we would never be able to do if we had to handle it manually

Online Printer Reclameland Loves Alwan Color Standardization!

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Reclameland is a fast growing Dutch ‘online printer’, who combines Internet based ordering of a wide range of printed products with full in-house high quality color production. Automation is Reclameland’s key word. Alwan color solutions were selected to improve printability and to standardize quality on their offset, digital and large format outputs. Thanks to Alwan, Reclameland saves ink by lowering the ink coverage without losing quality. Because this happens automatically, this also saves time for the online printer.

Reclameland produces since 2010 and has been working with Alwan since 2013. The online printer prints hundreds of orders on a daily basis. Alwan ColorHub is integrated with Switch in the ordering system and takes care of color standardization, media adaptation and ink optimization for the entire production. Alwan’s PrintStandardizer is used to check conformity with ISO12647 standard and adapt output for different media and printing processes.

Wouter Haan, managing director of Reclameland, is very satisfied with the results experienced in now almost 2 years using Alwan color standardization solutions: “We like ‘best-of-breed’ workflow building blocks, that provide flexibility and does not tie us to one vendor».
He added: «Customers and Reclameland prefer maximum quality and performance. Alwan is exactly delivering this. «It pairs a minimum of make-overs and human interventions with a maximum of quality and productivity».

About Reclameland
Reclameland B.V. is a highly dynamic company that is specialised in printing. Servicing over 50.000 customers in Benelux and Great Britain. The traffic and in-house production is based in Roden in the North of the Netherlands. Customers rate Reclameland with a 9.8 on Trustpilot, a figure that makes us proud!

About ISI Publishing Innovators
ISI publishing innovators delivers high quality and innovative automation solutions in the field of creation and processing communications. The emphasis is on open standards and connectivity with the world around us. ISI is developing web-to-print solutions based on Adobe InDesign Server and works with Alwan Color on color standardization and Enfocus on workflow automation. ISI is serving the complete chain of document creation up to (digital) printing. ISI’s customers are to be found in the entire publishing chain. Together with the traditional printing companies, the products and services of ISI are also excellent for all organizations where optimization in the marketing processes is required. For more information, please contact

Alwan ColorHub on Lithographic, Digital & Large format printing processes

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Colouration, specialists in retail design, print and production have recently partnered with Colour Engine and installed Alwan ColorHub. Supplied by Colour Engine & SOS the software gives the triple benefit of better colour consistency across different media, reduced ink usage and centralised spot colour conversion.

David Croker has been Colouration’s Production Studio Manager for the last 11 years with one of his key roles defined as managing the workflow and colour output across all the different printing machines and substrates. David has been impressed with the Service from Colour Engine and takes a minute to explain more..

Is there a focus on the type of clients Colouration work for?
We specialise in the beauty, fashion and sports environments but also work with many other sectors of industry.

How demanding are your clients for colour?
We expect our clients to be very demanding when it comes to colour accuracy and consistency, we work together with our clients to produce eye popping graphics that promote their brand.

Is colour management a marketing/selling tool, not just a technical challenge?
Larger clients are asking the question, have you got an automated colour controlled workflow?. Having an accurate colour workflow in place is most definitely a must when promoting your services to any new client.

POP is a complex environment for production, what does it entail?
Colouration offer a complete in-house service from 2d/3d design to installation. We produce print using Lithographic, Digital & Large format Printing processes. Part of our service offering includes Acrylic Fabrication, Cardboard Engineering, Laser Cutting, CNC Machining/Routing and Vacuum Forming.

You've bought a Colour Server technology to take the colour conversions out of the RIPs. What were you looking to achieve from the software?
To produce the same visual appearance across a multitude of different substrates using Litho, Digital & Large Format processes. Additional bonuses were the substantial ink saving we were able to achieve and superb centralised spot colour conversions with the ability to adjust each queue for different combinations of press and substrate in just seconds.

You chose to work with Colour Engine and use Alwan's ColorHub technology. Was this the only choice of software and supplier you looked at and what made you choose it?
We looked at several software alternatives including GMG & Kodak. The ease of use of the Alwan software won the day, it ticked all the boxes that I wanted from a colour controlled workflow.

Overall did Colour Engine and Alwan's ColorHub achieve what you wanted?
Yes I’m very happy with the choice we made to use Colour Engine Ltd and Alwan. Integrating Alwan within our existing RIP setup was very much a team effort between Colour Engine and Colouration. It’s very refreshing to meet a like minded company that understands the importance of colour and the difference it can make to your business.

Has there been an improvement in colour control/quality and ink reduction?
Yes, colour quality & consistency across the board has improved, using a stronger GCR gives the litho press greater control.

Will you be using Colour Engine for other projects and would you recommend them to others?
I would most definitely recommend and use Colour Engine, we are already in the process of installing a colour accurate online approval workflow.

About Colouration
Founded as a family business in 2001, Colouration has evolved to become a leading partner in the delivery of premium design, print and production solutions for clients in the beauty, fashion, retail and sport environments. From a basic print request to in-­‐store point of sale, large format graphics and light box rollouts to cardboard/acrylic display units and promotional installa+ons/storage, our experienced in-­‐house team can facilitate your every need in amely, cost efficient manner. Based in Wimbledon, South West London, Colouration House now comprises 24,000 square foot and is conveniently located to offer a complete in-­‐house service – all under one roof.

About Colour Engine
Colour Engine represents market leading technologies for the graphic arts industry in the UK and Ireland. The company delivers a full service of training, integration and personal support along with a comprehensive suite of colour management software tailored to each customer’s requirements. Working with advertising agencies, publishers, prepress houses and printers Colour Engine provides a full colour management service matching all current ISO standards for PDFs, print and so proofing.

Alwan PrintStandardizer - Perfect colors at St. Pauli Printing Plant

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St. Pauli printing plant is ideally situated in the middle of St. Pauli in the heart of Hamburg. Founded in 1978, it currently counts 14 employees and provides quality services for a wide variety of printed products covering business cards, postcards, flyers, posters, folders, calendars, brochures, art catalogs and more...

Manfred Koepp - Prepress Technical Manager - explains the reasons behind the high quality prints at St. Pauli:

«Our printing is done almost exclusively with FM screening. This requires rigorous color management and quality control to match ISO standards and Fogra proofs. Impressed helped us first implement PDF preflight, Device Link Profiles and color management. Then we needed to calibrate and maintain the Komori press color reproduction with FM screening and we started looking at available solutions on the market. Karsten Schwarze from Impressed introduced Alwan PrintStandardizer to us.

After a couple of days of installation and training, PrintStandardizer was integrated seamlessly in our production. The software usage was amazingly simple, we liked the good visual representation of the machine parameters, we found the displayed information and generated reports easy-to-understand and useful, and we were particularly impressed by the accuracy of the press curves. With an unbeatable price-performance ratio, the decision to adopt PrintStandardizer was fairly easy and quick to take.

Two weeks after its installation we all noticed a significant improvement in our proof to press match. Actually the match is so good and consistent that we decided to print customer jobs without an in-house proof anymore! We also updated our process control procedures which became much simpler and less time consuming thanks to PrintStandardizer automated process control. The only thing I wish Print Standardizer could do is a tool to create our own control strips, but Impressed and Alwan have been very helpful so far in doing this for us. I highly recommend Alwan PrintStandardizer to all printers who are looking to print to color standards regardless of the specifics of their printing process.»

Alwan ColorHub - Bemis saves Time and maintains Brand Consistency

Bemis saves time and maintains brand consistency with Alwan ColorHub (formally known as CMYK Optimizer).

In short, we’re now achieving just what we wanted — consistency of brand and a common appearance across all of the packages we print for a customer”.

The flexographic print process commonly used for packaging can sometimes demonstrate a lot of variability within a single print run. How can a packaging printer leverage the latest technologies to send optimized color separations to the press and minimize this variability?

Using photo prepress/imaging software like Adobe Photoshop and working with GCR is one route. But this still leaves room for variability from operator to operator, as they don’t all make the same decisions. Color profiling software, the proper use of color management, monitor proofing and other digital imaging techniques also help – but they take time and can’t always insure an optimal level of consistency.


Bemis Company Inc., a globalsupplier of flexible packaging and pressure sensitive label materials headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, has tried them all. The company, which serves customers worldwide and produces packaging for products found in virtually every aisle of the grocery store, was a pioneer in the digital flexo world in the late 1990s and tackled the issue of predicting color from file to plate to press as an early adopter of closed loop digital proofing and color management software. But the optimal solution remained elusive. Until recently.

Says Matt Elliott, General Manager at Bemis Graphics, “Our local graphic supplier, La Crosse Litho, recommended Alwan ColorHub (CMYK Optimizer) to us in the summer of 2007. We buy a lot of our consumables from them and they were aware of our various attempts at working with GCR and more. They knew we wanted to send optimized separations to press so there would be the least variation in the pressroom possible.”

Adds Michael Meyer, Graphics Technology Manager at Bemis, “We had been doing color conversions in Photoshop and used ProfileMaker for handling spot color. But we didn’t have a hot folder system, scripting or any automation. We were doing everything at the workshop, manually, each techie making a unique decision. ” Meyer says that Bemis had been asking its suppliers for a better, more automated process for a long time – to no avail...and then, he says, “all of a sudden there it was, something that answered all of our needs. Alwan.

It wasn’t long after we started using Alwan ColorHub (CMYK Optimizer) that we started seeing real advantages.” Alwan ColorHub (Color ) brought the automation Bemis was looking for. Alwan also handles color correction and GCR manipulation, and helps maintain the purity of primary colors when it does color conversions.

Says Meyer, “Installation and training was pretty easy. We spent about a half a day with La Crosse, and then just took off and ran with it. “We found Alwan very easy to use,” Meyer says, adding that the software’s wide variety of settings allows Bemis to easily figure out what will be best for the workflow. “We looked at the conversions on screen, our color guys knew what they were looking for in terms of verifying settings, and then we just turned it loose.”

Meyer says that the software has helped Bemis develop consistency in how it does color separations. No longer do they go to press with passes at the same image done by different operators, all of whom are making different decisions.

He adds, “When it comes to making color separations, with Alwan we have cut our color manipulation time in half. In addition, with the software’s reporting features, we can see how something was converted. This traceability allows us to see what decisions were made upstream and how that resulted, and whether anything went astray when it got to the press.”

He adds, “We’re matching colors and achieving consistency to a degree that they haven’t seen before. This is a result of our ability to consistently optimize files and automate the process with Alwan ColorHub (CMYK Optimizer). Customers don’t have to come to press runs anymore.”


Alwan ColorHub - Improved Printability and Faster make-readies

“The results with Alwan ColorHub (CMYK Optimizer) were unprecedented, a customer delight!”

The prepress department at Sandy Alexander, Inc., one of the most respected, full service graphic communication companies in the U.S., is where the art and science of high quality color printing meet. It is there that the company’s team of skilled professionals combines the beauty and subtlety of color imaging with the application of leading-edge communication technology for color matching and management.

Says Howie Swerdloff, VP of prepress, “Our primary concerns are always multi-fold. Foremost we need to consistently match proofs we receive from our customers on our presses. We also need to match results with different stock, inks, etc. And we want to achieve matching results between our web and sheetfed presses. This is possible with our color measurement and profiling tools, by applying profiles and transforming files from one profile to another, but it’s a time consuming, hands-on computer process”.

Alwan ColorHub (CMYK Optimizer) hasn’t replaced the other color management tools at Sandy Alexander. Rather, it’s a companion that provides a more automated way to apply profiles to files, says Hill. The software uses state-of-the-art Alwan Dynamic LinkProfiling technology to build high quality ICC DeviceLink profiles in a unique and dynamic way. This dynamic approach is content dependent and is based on a page analysis to ensure the best conversion will be executed for each specific page or image. The result is higher quality than using a static devicelink approach.

Sandy Alexander is known for its quality web-press printing where gray component replacement (GCR controls), especially for printing “neutral” colors, are particularly important. Says Hill, “CMYK Optimizer delivers more control over the black channel. The intelligence in the product creates device links on the fly on a case by case basis.”

Swerdloff adds, “We often get proofs without GCR from outside prepress shops. Yet customers expect us to match and maintain the color on-press. This can be difficult to do consistently. Alwan ColorHub (CMYK Optimizer) gives us more control on press, which is particularly useful in, for example, catalog crossover pages, where you don’t want rainbows or color shifts. We’ve always managed these situations but now with CMYK Optimizer; it’s really fine-tuned, faster and more accurate. We now can handle GCR with no loss of quality – the results are spectacular!”

Alwan ColorHub - Extraordinary Color and Quality for Pirelli Calendar

Alwan ColorHub (formally known as CMYK Optimizer) ensures winning results for Mondadori Printing. Extraordinary color and quality for famous Pirelli Calendar Book.

About Mondadori

Mondadori Printing is one of the largest graphic companies in Europe.

With a workforce of over 1,500 employees, the company can print using offset, web offset, gravure and flexography. Mondadori’s color management requirements reflect a common trend in today’s dynamically evolving industry. Operators must handle files coming from every corner of the world. However when it comes to color management, their ability to intercept errors and potential problems from incoming files is very limited. Alwan provides an effective solution to this problem with its award winning Alwan ColorHub (CMYK Optimizer) software which is based on Alwan’s Dynamic DeviceLinks® technology.

Sergio Brunelli, head of prepress and offset quality control at Mondadori Printing, provides an example of why Alwan ColorHub (CMYK Optimizer) is an absolute must in their production workflow:

“A client provided a PDF file that was only suitable for web offset printing.  All of a sudden he decided to switch to gravure printing at the very last minute. In view of the tight production schedule and costs related to converting the digital files, we intervened on the files using Alwan ColorHub (CMYK Optimizer) software. Thanks Alwan technology, the files were converted directly from web offset to gravure avoiding the problems of black channel management».

Alwan ColorHub (CMYK Optimizer)’s record for delivering successful results gave Mondadori another technical edge to handle the demanding print requirements for the famous Pirelli Calendar book which included 44 years (1963-2007) and hundreds of black/white and color images which were color managed and separated in different and heterogeneous ways over the years:

«At first, it was practically impossible to reproduce such different images with any degree of quality. Then separations were rebuilt using Alwan’s Dynamic technology which enabled optimal printing conditions to be achieved within a very short time».

«The resulting files were easy and fast to print, overmore, Alwan’s Ink Savings were really significant,” states Brunelli


Alwan PrintStandardizer - The secret of production accuracy and consistency

SunDance Graphics, Nationally-awarded Orlando print company, reveals the secret of its production accuracy and consistency: the state-of-the-art quality control system, Alwan Print Standardizer.

Lyon, France, January 24, 2012. SunDance Graphics, one of the most renowned and awarded print-company in the USA redefines production accuracy and consistency limits with Alwan Color Expertise’s PrintStandardizer.

With more awards than employees, Sundance Graphics is an enigma. Whereas no one can question the production quality of the Orlando printer, some are eager to know what technology enables such accuracy.

Our business is in art print reproduction,” said JohnHenry Ruggieri, Director of Operations. “On the initial run we need to match the artist’s original piece, and then we must reproduce that run 6 months to a year later. Often these pieces are “mates”, meaning one run will be hanging right next to a piece done on a previous run, so color variance is very easily noticed.” With such high customer expectations, SunDance Graphics needed an automatic high-performance solution.

They sought a solution that had the ability to be quickly integrated into the workflow, that was easy to use and was independent of any manufacturer, allowing flexibility and freedom of choice in future equipment updates.

We had consultants from three companies come out to help us before we went with Alwan Print Standardizer,” confessed Ruggieri, revealing the winner of his tests. Available on both Mac OS and Windows, Alwan PrintStandardizer can be connected to any measurement instrument, and requires one hour at most to instal.

Installation was very quick and easy, while Alwan PrintStandardizer helped greatly with print quality and matching proofs,” added the Director of Operations, who had appointed the Expert Consultant David Hunter from Pilot Marketing to lead the project.

As a successful and growing print company, SunDance Graphics continues its development with Alwan’s solution, which doesn’t just maintain the highest accuracy and consistency, but also meets ISO standards and G7® calibration, helping to cut waste and reduce make-ready time to the minimum, and offering one of the fastest returns on investment in Automatic Standardization solutions marketed today. “A return on investment of 1-3 months, depending on whether or not I included some of the immeasurable savings” concluded Ruggieri.


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