Schawk launches ColorDrive cloud-based colour management platform

Simon Nias
Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Schawk has launched what it claims is the industry's first cloud-based platform for objectively measuring print quality, particularly in relation to the accurate and consistent reproduction of colour.

The global packaging pre-press specialist's new ColorDrive web-based platform is being pitched at marketers as a means of achieving greater worldwide consistency in the reproduction of a brand's colours while continually measuring and improving print quality.

The system requires printers to collect and upload colour data, either automatically or via email, into the ColorDrive database, which creates a score based on registration, colour match (delta e), tonal value increase (dot gain), and an overall visual attribute assessment.

This last measure is based on the most important attributes of the brand intent as specified by the brand owner, thereby allowing them weight specific attributes such as colour match, halftone reproduction or print defects more heavily in generating the final score.

Rob Frimming, director of Schawk Print Services, told PrintWeek that ColorDrive was based on a system Schawk had been using internally for almost a decade, which has now upgraded to become an "enterprise-class" platform.

"We've had some sort of print quality database since 2003 but in the past it's been more driven out of Schawk in terms of us collecting the print samples to assess at regional labs and then post the results," he said.

"Now, all of that can be done by anyone in the supply chain because we've developed an XML standard that is used to feed the data from third-party measurement tools into ColorDrive. One of the great things about it is we've kept it open to many different data ingestion tools that you would typically find press-side at a printers.

"Because it's cloud-based we have the ability to accept data from anywhere in the world and we've also done a lot of automation at the front end in terms of taking that data from the printer and automatically turning it into a quality record and then building multiple quality records into scorecards, which are then sent back to the brand owner at whatever frequency they want."

ColorDrive is available for anyone to use and doesn't require Schawk to be the pre-media company in the supply chain - in fact, Frimming added that of the four companies using the system in the UK, three were printers and the fourth was another pre-media company.

Schawk draws its revenue from a monthly fee that would be charged out to either the printer, pre-media company or brand owner, depending on who initiated the ColorDrive implementation.

Training can be done on-site although it is often done via WebEx. The setup cost depends on the scale of the implementation and the printer's understanding and capability of printing to specific standards such as ISO 12647.

Frimming added that he saw ColorDrive being particularly useful in delivering consistent print quality across a number of printers, producing different elements of a campaign using different print techniques.

"It allows the brand owner to come up with a single criteria and to hold all suppliers to that criteria - so it becomes a global standard for scoring your print suppliers, whether that's your paper printers, your poly printers or your in-mold printers.


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