How Building Custom Printer Profiles Produces Better Color

On a recent Saturday (Yes, we love our jobs so much that we are willing to work weekends!), we visited a client site and built three profiles for them in one day. We even managed to squeeze in some spot color work that day.

When we arrived, our client showed us print examples to illustrate where he was having trouble with color management. He asked us to profile his UV flatbed printer on two different substrates and his smaller inkjet roll printer.

Gray Becomes … Green???

In the case of the roll printer, our client was frustrated with the gray balance of his print jobs. When he printed a mostly gray image, the result consistently had a greenish tint to it. (See accompanying image.)

Why would gray print green? Well, it could be because our client was using the canned profile that came with the printer. We hoped that by making a custom profile of the printer that we could get him good gray balance.

Canned Vs. Custom Profiles

Before we explain the difference between canned and custom profiles, you need to understand what a profile actually is.

A profile is a characterization of a printing device’s condition at a certain moment. It takes into account many variables that can affect print quality such as humidity, temperature, RIP settings, substrate, and ink. When any of these variables change, it affects the profile of the printer and ultimately the quality of its printing.

While printers have out-of-the-box default or canned profiles, they aren’t always representative of the best the printer has to offer for print quality. In our client’s example, his printer’s canned profile made it difficult for him to achieve gray balance.

Using a profiling process called the Color Management Pyramid, as taught by Printing United Alliance, we were able to create a custom profile for this machine. When we re-printed the example, we saw the gray balance improvement right away. The custom profile solved the problem.

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