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Color in the Cloud: PantoneLIVE

August 31, 2015

PantoneLIVE logoFLEXO Magazine just published a study conducted by Clemson University, Sun Chemical, and X-Rite that verifies that PantoneLIVE Dependent Standard Targets can be achieved with 98% accuracy. This is big news for the many brand owners, designers, prepress professionals, printers and converters around the world who rely on PantoneLIVE to communicate and accurately produce their color.

The focus of PantoneLIVE is to protect brand colors and ensure production consistency across everything from flexible packaging to corrugated board. Today we’ll take a closer look at PantoneLIVE… what it is, what it does, and who uses it.


Digital color

Brand colors are a crucial part of a company’s identity. They portray an image, and must be accurate. Oftentimes, purchase decisions at the shelf are made based on color, and if the color is not right, products may be passed over. However, with multiple sites, different operators, and various substrates, achieving consistent brand color across a global supply chain can be a challenge. PantoneLIVE focuses on protecting brand colors and ensuring consistent production of packaging  across everything from flexible materials to corrugated board.

PantoneLIVE was developed as a way to eliminate potential color variability. For example, physical references such as Pantone Guides have historically been used to communicate color, and they still have an important role in the color supply chain. However, they are guides, not standards, and colors can drift based on the age, condition and exposure to light of these guides.

PantoneLIVE is a secure cloud-based ecosystem that houses digital Pantone dependent standards, allowing anyone involved in the color workflow to communicate and access the same color data. PantoneLIVE doesn’t change much about a workflow. Color is still produced the same way.  What’s new is the availability of dependent standards that allow a printer or packaging converter to use data that has been created specifically for his workflow – using his print process, his substrate and his ink system.

PantoneLIVE Libraries & Packaging

PantoneLIVE libraries cover the majority of packaging applications, including multiple print processes, packaging structures, and packaging types, with more in development.

Connecting everyone with a digital workflow

When a brand’s digital color palette lives in the PantoneLIVE cloud, it can be accessed by any authorized user from anywhere in the world. Colors can be measured at every stage and compared to up-to-date digital standards, removing ambiguity and reducing human error and waste.

  1. Brand owners.

    Using PantoneLIVE, the brand manager selects the brand’s color palette and substrates. Then the PantoneLIVE team takes over. Using the PantoneLIVE digital library, which was developed in partnership with X-Rite’s preferred partner, Sun Chemical, we work to identify accurate color specifications for the brand based on all of the available substrates, print processes, inks, and application methods, mapping those to existing PantoneLIVE dependent standards where possible. Then we create precise spectral definitions for colors that cannot be mapped to existing dependent standards. This process essentially defines the color’s digital DNA. Finally, we host the brand palette in the PantoneLIVE cloud for easy access. Brand managers can then select the digitized palettes and associated substrates and grant access to the palette throughout the supply chain.

  1. Designers.

    Using Adobe® Illustrator® and the PantoneLIVE Color Book & Viewer, design teams can work with the brand’s actual color before going to press. This ensures that the colors are actually achievable using the target substrate, print technology and ink. Designers can incorporate the brand’s digital colors into their designs directly from the PantoneLIVE cloud from commonly used design software. To see this in action, check out the PantoneLIVE Creative Suite video.

  1. Prepress.

    PantoneLIVE is integrated directly into the workflow and production solutions from suppliers like Esko and GMG, producing accurate color files, proofs, and production specifications prior to manufacturing. PantoneLIVE allows all phases of the package design process to access the same digital color palette to set realistic expectations, streamline the process, and reduce rejected work.

  1. Pressroom.

    When it’s time for production, converters, and printers along with their ink suppliers can make use of color formulation products like IFS
    and quality control solutions like Color iQC and ColorCert to connect to the PantoneLIVE Cloud. Press operators can measure printed output against PantoneLIVE dependent standards to ensure that spot colors are created precisely, taking into account substrate, ink film and more. PantoneLIVE helps streamline make-ready, set-up, and production approvals. Since the produced color matches the color achieved during formulation and proofing, pressmen can consistently deliver on the brand owner’s original expectations.

What do PantoneLIVE users have to say? Heinz Beanz and Chesapeake are happy to share their stories.

About the validation study

Of course, users want to know that PantoneLIVE is delivering accurate color.

Clemson University, Sun Chemical, and X-Rite all participated in a study to verify that PantoneLIVE Dependent Standard Targets can be achieved within acceptable tolerances during a well-controlled ink formulation and printing process. Since PantoneLIVE currently houses 1,663 Pantone+ color values, it wasn’t feasible to color match for all 36,586 possible media and print applications. This study tested color standards from a smaller palette that represent the overall system, including highly chromatic colors, desaturated colors, and pastels. The study used well-controlled ink formulation, printing, and measurement processes similar to standard print tests used in the industry today.

The objectives were to evaluate:

  1. Whether PantoneLIVE Dependent Standards could be achieved, regardless of subtle substrate variation.
  2. If Tint Standards could be achieved, regardless of subtle variations in the substrate.
  3. How variability in the substrate white point would affect the use of PantoneLIVE data on a like substrate that exceeds the recommended tolerance of 2 Delta E 2000 (1:1:1).

The results showed that PantoneLIVE Dependent Solid and Tint Standards were matched, within tolerance, 97.7% of the time, with an average Delta E 2000 of 1.32. It’s safe to assume that since PantoneLIVE Dependent Libraries were developed as a general standard for a given print process, substrate and ink system, the closer you align to that standard, the more accurately you can reproduce color.

You can find the entire PantoneLIVE Validation Study on our website. To find out how to get a copy of the FLEXO Magazine article featuring the PantoneLIVE Validation Study, visit their website.

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