Light touch

Industry stakeholders came together to explore ink and proofing standards for two-piece beverage cans. Nisa Ali reports from Manchester

Leading companies across canmaking industry supply chains are considering general guidance for PantoneLIVE colours in the production of two-piece beverage cans.

Following a series of seminars discussing the role of PantoneLIVE colour libraries in the design, proofing and printing process of two-piece beverage cans, an approach to establishing “a language to discuss, compare, and approve colour targets across the whole supply chain” is a step closer.

The initiative is an attempt by industry participants to find ways to reduce ink wastage, save time, cut costs, contribute to the eco-credentials of cans, and provide “a more defined standardised approach, with more colour options and improved speed to market”, as colour matching on metal decorating is a known issue in the industry.

Shaun Sandison, global business manager, 2P inks, at Sun Chemical, which has been pivotal in organising the seminars, says the process was about “communicating colour”, and “giving people the tools” to understand the process.

He says: “The potential of creating a global standard has given us confidence to move forward, without that, we’re trying to think of a way to visualise the digital process.”

The colour references established in the Pantone libraries, of which there are at least 54, including a library for tubes and monobloc aerosols as well as a range of secondary packaging, has become a global resource. However, with different surface finishes, light availability, paper types, screen resolutions and colour perception, there is a risk of errors at any stage of production.

The third seminar in January, hosted by colour measurement and management experts X-Rite in Manchester in the UK, considered that a digital proofing standard to assess the use of spot colours in dry offset printing of two-piece aluminium cans would benefit the industry.

A paper in March set out the background to the meetings, what some of the issues were, and provided initial guidance towards “digital colour targets being accessible in all areas of production, from creative, through digital and conventional proofing through to full production” in two-piece cans.

The paper stated: “This wealth of expertise and knowledge ensures full credibility and delivers a great platform to discuss the basic rules of standardization, quality control and further optimization of the digital colour workflow.”

This guidance outlines five basic parameters for the use of PantoneLIVE and a task force from the industry meetings, which are open to all, will continue to research and collect data, presenting their findings in future meetings.

The five points are:

  • Colour-matching to the paper Pantone Guide has always been a bottleneck in the two-piece beverage can sector. The creation of the PantoneLIVE dependent libraries allows for common standards to be referenced throughout the industry.
  • Active participation in the event ensures feedback from a wide variety of users and industry stakeholders, with the goal to further refine a standardized approach for end customers and PantoneLIVE users.
  • PantoneLIVE has a future as a fully open system, that has the complete data needed and is accessible to any users with a software licence, regardless of its role in the pre-press, or production chain.
  • By digitizing the colour approval workflow for the industry, ultimately less physical material has to be couriered around, reducing overall carbon footprint.
  • PantoneLIVE is available to multiple ink suppliers and colour management software producers who may use the licensed data to provide an accurate simulation of digital libraries within given tolerances.

The next seminar, which is free and open to all, will be hosted by Sun Chemical in Bilbao from 24–26 June.

The PantoneLIVE Summit, held at Manchester’s Media City in Salford Quays, assembled participants from leading European canmakers Ardagh Metal Packaging (AMP), Ball Corporation, Crown Packaging, and suppliers including CGS Oris, CMA, INX International, Pantone X-Rite and Sun Chemical from departments, including marketing and graphics to quality control.

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