Comparison Between Inline and Offline Color Management Processes for Digital Presses

Renmei Xu and Nick Copenhaver, School of Art, Ball State University

Digital presses have become one of the most efficient ways to create short-run or personalized print products. Compared to traditional printing presses, it is also easier and quicker for digital presses to make changes in color management, especially with inline measurement systems. Inline color management can not only perform automated registration and real-time color density adjustments, but also create custom ICC profiles for different substrates under different environmental and press conditions. This inline process can be added into an automated workflow to ensure color matching or G7 conformance. However, the number of color patches used in an inline process is usually limited, while the number in an offline process can be thousands. Therefore, it would be interesting to know whether quality has been sacrificed for speed.

In this study, a Konica Minolta AccurioPress C2070 at Ball State University was used to compare inline and offline profiling processes. An inline IQ-501 Intelligent Quality Optimizer installed on the press along with Fiery™ Color Profiler Suite was used to create custom profiles for eight paper substrates, three uncoated and five coated. 234 patches were printed and measured inline. The inline process took about 10 minute to create one profile. An offline X-Rite ES-2000 spectrophotometer was also used with Fiery Color Profiler Suite to create custom profiles for these eight substrates. 1,617 color patches were printed and measured manually. The offline process took about 40 minutes to create one profile. Profiles created using inline and offline processes were evaluated and compared in CHROMiX ColorThink™ Pro to find out their differences. Profiles of those eight substrates were also evaluated and compared to investigate the differences between uncoated and coated substrates. Advantages and disadvantages of inline and offline processes were summarized.