How print substrate material effects colour.

     As colour is a major part of our work ethic at Boyall Graphics & Print Ltd, we print pantone or pms colours onto different print substrates, to provide accurate colour rendition. Below we have reverse printed onto clear polycarbonate plastic with a white backup, another substrate option would be foamex or dibond. We do this because the customer can see the choice of pantone colours within the end product or substrate. Another reason is that the actual substrate colour  varies greatly. For example you think white is white? Wrong. A pantone colour printed onto foamex plastic will vary compared to the same pantone colour printed onto say correx or dibond which is also white in nature, how so?

     Recently a customer sent artwork in for construction health and safety signs. At first glance all was good with the print test but when compared to the corporate image the colours were incompatible. If we had gone to print, the customer could have viewed the product as faulty. At this point one would do well to understand the process more fully. This wasn't the customers usual print on foamex, instead it was a print on dibond. Both are white but behave very differently. Printing what is an accurate colour match on foamex will not print the same colour on dibond. Foamex is a porous material that allows the ink to settle into the material surface. Dibond has a non porrous surface that the ink adheres directly to the top surface. So it may be the same colour printed onto both materials but it is the light reflecting of the surface creates a different colour tone for each material substrate. Dibond then requires its own colour calibration and  rip environment when it is sent down to the printer which modifies the ink amount within the cmyk channels. Granted printers do sometimes make mistakes but its how you correct them thats most important, especially when the customer is waiting by the printer to take the job away. A quick artwork adjustment and rip environment change provided the solution. In addition to this, the customer also decided to compare our print against his iphone image in RGB! Danger, it is the course of wisdom for the printer to ask for a physical print sample to look at rather than colours in RGB format on a phone which is adding another inaccurate variable. You will not get a print that represents what you are looking at from a back illuminated screen RGB screen.
    You can start to see that even with a great design or colour awareness you still need to have a knowledge of the substrate material and how it behaves under the printer. Helping clients understand this will help them with future orders across a variety of materials and also build appreciation for how decisions are made at every stage of the process.

print onto substrate
Left: Pantone colours for matching on foamex materials.                                    Right: 
Pantone colours for matching on reverse printed polycarbonate.


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