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  • Pantone Printing Process, Please Explain

    I've been a designer for a while but have never asked any people on the printer side of the industry how pantone inks work within the printer. I'm assuming there are specific formulas that are mixed for each swatch (similar to how they mix wall paint at the hardware store). I know that's the principle behind CKMY, but maybe they do it in a similar fashion. I just can't fathom an individual cartridge for so many spot colors.

    I've always thought that each pantone color got its own plate. This makes sense, but how is the ink rendered? Its is a mix that is only applied to that plate? Maybe I have the whole picture wrong.

    Any explainations or links would be helpful. Thanks.
    Broke or just cheap? Read my list of free open source alternatives to Adobe Creative Suite software.

  • #2
    I think the problem is that you're picturing printing with spot colors as printing with inkjet or laser cartridges, when you need to be thinking more about paint.

    When you get paint mixed at a hardware store, they start with a certain set of base colors, and they mix them together to get the bazillion colors you see in the paint sample books.

    It's the same with Pantone spot colors. If you look at a Pantone Spot Color Formula Guide, it might say something like: PANTONE 1817 C: 16 pts PANTONE Red 032, 6 pts PANTONE Black. A printer will either mix the color themselves or order the ink they need, and then apply that ink to the press. Specifically, each color ink is applied using one plate on the press. If you create a job that's CMYK plus one spot, there will be 5 plates. If you print a three spot color job, there will be three plates, each with its own color ink.

    Does that help at all?
    Last edited by The_Black_Knight; 10-01-2006, 04:08 AM.

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    • #3
      Same idea with metallic or other special inks... They are, for most printers, specially ordered, which is why you have a limited number of options to choose from. Pantone colors are easier for the printer to mix themselves (being CMYK colors), but can also be special ordered.
      Ned Yeung, A.C.E.
      mediamainline.com
      cyclopsphoto.ca

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Ned
        Same idea with metallic or other special inks... They are, for most printers, specially ordered, which is why you have a limited number of options to choose from. Pantone colors are easier for the printer to mix themselves (being CMYK colors), but can also be special ordered.
        Except that the PANTONE spot colors aren't necessarily mixed with CMYK inks, but inks like PANTONE Red, Rhodamine Red, Reflex Blue, and so on.

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        • #5
          Take a look at A Heildeberg GTO You can see that in this case there are 5 towers each is identical and each contains a different color. Now you can see what TBK is saying.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Kool
            Take a look at A Heildeberg GTO You can see that in this case there are 5 towers each is identical and each contains a different color. Now you can see what TBK is saying.
            Your link seems to be broken, Kool.

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            • #7
              Not anymore

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              • #8
                And with offset printing, the system of rollers inside each station will look something like this. The ink rollers just pick up whatever ink is in the ink reservoir for that station.

                If you want to have some real fun, you can create custom match colors by mixing two or more existing spot colors together in the same ink reservoir. Some companies do this when they want a very specific color for branding purposes (personally, I think doing this complicates things, and isn't worth the effort unless you're IBM or some other huge company, but that's just me).
                Last edited by The_Black_Knight; 10-01-2006, 04:35 AM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by The_Black_Knight
                  Your link seems to be broken, Kool.
                  My dyslexia must be kicking in. Something about "Kool" in that sentance made me read it as, "Your tool seems to be broken, Kool." Could be worse - I could've just as easily read it as, "Your dink seems to be broken, Kool".

                  I gotta stop taking those drugs...
                  Last edited by Ned; 10-01-2006, 04:48 AM.
                  Ned Yeung, A.C.E.
                  mediamainline.com
                  cyclopsphoto.ca

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                  • #10
                    Do you want to get into PMS Spot color printing in Wide Format?

                    <laughs evilly while sobbing quietly>

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PrintDriver
                      Do you want to get into PMS Spot color printing in Wide Format?
                      [ALL TOGETHER] NO! [/ALL TOGETHER]

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                      • #12
                        Thanks for the help guys. Now I know!

                        P.S. - I'd rather do Action Scripting in latin than learn about PMS Spot color in wide format. LOL j/k
                        Broke or just cheap? Read my list of free open source alternatives to Adobe Creative Suite software.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SurfPark
                          I'd rather do Action Scripting in latin
                          Why does that seem fun to me? Gah, I knew this whole literary thing would get be in trouble eventually.
                          Light a man a fire and he will be warm for a short while. Light a man afire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.

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                          • #14
                            Well then, all I'll say is none of the above applies.
                            LOL!

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