System links QuadTech and X-Rite technologies to simplify preparation and deliver precise color consistency
Cartotecnica Veneta S.p.A, of San Pietro, Gù (PD), Italy, is simplifying color preparation and improving print quality on its gravure printing line with QuadTech's new Color Quality Solution, and attracting new business in the process.
QuadTech's 'industry first' integrated Color Quality Solution relays in-line spectral data gathered by QuadTech's SpectralCamTM to ink formulation software from X-Rite and ink technology from Huber Group to ensure a consistent color measurement standard from the brand owner's request to last printed image. The system installation was managed by QuadTech's agent, ColorConsulting, S.r.L, and supported by the QuadTech team from the United States.
Cartotecnica produces finished and semi-finished flexible packaging and folding cartons primarily for large Italian and European food and beverage brands including Ferrero, Nestlé Italy and Unilever. The company's vast substrate portfolio - ranging from coated and uncoated paper and board, to aluminum foil and thin PP and PE films - requires different ink sets, discrete color targets and precisely imaged gravure cylinders. Before the installation of the automated system, achieving the standards of accuracy required was time-consuming and expensive.
The QuadTech Color Measurement System with SpectralCamTM is positioned after the last printing unit on Cartotecnica's gravure line. Once the press is running SpectralCamTM measures the multiple pre-defined color targets throughout the print run to ensure accurate, repeatable color quality. The system receives the color targets, ink quantities, viscosity, substrate, run length, and other parameters utilizing the QuadTech Color Quality Solution and ICON platform.
The network-based QuadTech ICONTM platform controls all components from one central station. Job data is automatically saved for recall providing makeready, material and labor savings.
With Huber Group's ink technology the company can use just one set of color base inks for varying substrates instead of multiple ink gravure series. The X-Rite Ink Formulation software pin-points customer-defined color targets to form a spectral color curve and then checks existing stocks availability for any matching return ink before formulating an ink recipe. This is highly effective as 80% of print jobs at Cartotecnica are repeat jobs, so stored inks are kept to a minimum.
Ink formulation is then carried out using the Huber Group color database that doses exact color quantities. New formulations are verified using a strike-off produced on The Phantom QDTM portable table-top proofing system from Harper Corporation and a handheld X-Rite SpectroEye. If the formulation is correct, the ink is produced and production can begin. The industry minimum ink batch is 20kg but at Cartotecnica the minimum ink volume is 40kg, so it is essential to achieve the correct color first time right to minimize waste.
"Before QuadTech's Color Quality Solution, the production of gravure inks was manual, labor-intensive and wasteful," said Francesco Meneghetti, President of Cartotecnica Veneta. "Our vast substrate portfolio has always a challenge as it requires different ink sets, unique color targets and accurately made gravure cylinders. Therefore, excess ink was a frequent occurrence but now ink storage space has now been reduced from two rooms to a fifth of one room."
The Color Quality Solution has also secured new business for Cartotecnica just 30 minutes after showing Nestlé Italy representatives a live makeready on its problematic multi-layered substrate for its Buitoni range. That substrate includes plastic film on one side and an aluminum foil on the other, but the Cartotecnica's QuadTech system achieved accurate repeat prints in minutes.
"We have also eliminated unpredictable manual intervention. Our operators find the QuadTech solution very easy and so accurate to use that they want to work with the system every day, for every job, Meneghetti said." Set-up is simple and once the color is on the press it decreases makeready time because the system knows exactly what to expect from any ink, cylinder and substrate combination and can rectify anything within minutes."