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The Future of Color Managed Workflows

Posted January 25, 2017 by Ray Cheydleur

If you didn’t catch my Industry 4.0: What Commercial Printers Need to Know article, you’ll want to check it out now. Today’s blog is a continuation, touching on the most interesting print color management tie-ins: PQX, iccMAX, mobile control and new materials. Here’s what on the horizon for color-managed workflows.

Image courtesy of Esko.com.

Print Quality eXchange

PQX was a global effort developed by Idealliance, and is now moving to ISO to be issued as a standard. It is the first of two parts of the production communication chain. PQX, which is closest to completion, is a standardized way of providing pressroom data to quality tracking systems.

ColorCert ScoreCard Server is a cloud-based portal that gives an overall view of print quality, summarizing quality levels and providing metrics filtered by a variety of criteria.

Why is this important? Consider a printer who is doing work for multiple brand owners, and each brand owner has its own required format for quality data. Brand owners don’t want to dig through data from 20 different suppliers in 20 different formats. They want a single, concise dashboard that manages all of their suppliers. With PQX, the printer can use whichever process control system is in place – such as X-Rite’s ColorCert – and the information will be transferred to the brand owner in the desired format. Today, this can be accomplished with X-Rite’s ColorCert ScoreCard Server.

PQX allows printers to use their own choice of quality tracking and reporting across the entire customer base, while giving each customer the data in in a standardized format to drive the customer’s required reporting metrics. PRX (Print Requirements eXchange) will standardize communication in the other direction. It will be a standardized way for brands to send specification data down to the printer. Together, these will tie into Industry 4.0 and be very important for the print industry.


This is the equivalent of ICC 5.0 and contains a number of things that will affect the print business, including ways to deal with non-traditional lighting. D50 daylight is the ISO lighting standard for commercial print, and today all of the ICC specifications are based on D50. But we are moving into a world where we will increasingly see D65 daylight LED lighting for industrial applications.

As we move from traditional fluorescent or incandescent lighting conditions to LED, product colors may shift in store. At its core, iccMAX can understand spectral values for all types of illumination and is a way to address that. It also includes new ways to look at appearance effects such as varnish or metallics that go beyond any of the standards we have today. For a full rundown on iccMAX, visit color.org/iccMax.

Mobile Control

Here I am referring to the need to have color appear consistently across all devices and output. Mobile devices in particular are a challenge. We can calibrate them with ColorTRUE, but it’s application-specific. To get adoption, we need more control at the operating system level, like we have today with ICC profiles for a Mac or Windows computer. The goal is to be able to capture and communicate with a mobile device and rely on color fidelity across the rest of the supply chain. There is also increasing demand to monitor the pressroom from mobile devices, and color fidelity is important here as well.

ColorTRUE is a free app that provides mobile on-screen color accuracy as users move from computer to tablet to smartphone.

New Materials

Ink or toner on paper is no longer enough. We are seeing demand for a wide range of new materials, and embellishments such as the raised print or metallic effects that can be delivered with solutions from the likes of Scodix, HP Indigo and Kodak. And there is also a great deal going on with color in 3D printing as well. Over time, color managing 3D printers will become a higher priority.

Stay Tuned

Keep an eye on our blog for color trends and tips to help you stay ahead of the competition as we venture into Industry 4.0. Have questions now? Get in touch.

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