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How the PANTONE® EXTENDED GAMUT Guide helps Printers

Posted February 15, 2016 by X-Rite Color

Extended gamut printing is becoming more and more popular in the printing industry. With Pantone’s new EXTENDED GAMUT Guide, printers and designers have a visual guide to help predict how close of a match is possible when they use 7-color process in place of spot inks.

pantone extended color gamut is becoming more popular in printing


Ron Voigt, President of X-Rite Pantone, was recently interviewed on the topic by Cary Sherburne, senior editor at WhatTheyThink

According to Voigt, the EXTENDED GAMUT Guide helps printers visualize how well Pantone Spot and 4-color process colors can bridge to a 7-color process.

Ron voigt president of x-rite pantone

Today we’ll take a look at some of the benefits you can expect from fixed color palette printing and how to use the Pantone EXTENDED GAMUT Guide to achieve them.

What does Extended Gamut mean?

Industry demands have made it more difficult to print packaging using CMYK alone. Although it’s economical, it provides a very limited gamut and can only hit about half of PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM® Colors. Historically, printers have added spot color inks to CMYK process to hit special colors. They’re much more vibrant, but spots are more expensive for short runs, and can result in large and expensive ink inventories and a lot of wasted ink.

Pantone’s EXTENDED GAMUT Guide helps determine when a solid PANTONE Color can be reproduced by adding Orange, Green, and Violet PANTONE XG Base Inks to CMYK on press. It turns out you can expect to achieve a good visual match for approximately 90% of all spot colors without color mixing.

Here are a few more benefits:

  • Since the same inks stay in the press all the time, you only need to change plates between jobs, resulting in fewer washups and shorter makereadys.
  • You can gang jobs in combo runs on the same plates to take better advantage of real estate on expensive substrates and run more jobs through the plant in the same amount of time.
  • When used with photographic images, Extended Gamut used in tandem with a popular separation software, such as Esko Equinox™, can achieve a broader range of vibrant colors and greatly enhance saturated colors, especially Violets, Greens, and Oranges.

extended gamut is used in tandem with esko equinox

  • No mixing custom inks means less ink waste and smaller ink inventories.
  • You can use the same Orange, Green, and Violet Pantone base inks your ink vendor is already supplying.
  • The CMYK inks conform to the ISO ink and print standards that are already in use for offset, flexo, and gravure printing.
  • With proper color separations, Extended Gamut printing can be even more stable than 4-color process.
  • Less downtime and better press utilization means increased productivity and profitability… and happier customers who are more likely to come back for more.

How to use the EXTENDED GAMUT Guide

It’s easy.

  1. Find the corresponding page for the PANTONE Color in the EXTENDED GAMUT Guide to see the closest 7-color process match and its screen tint percentages.
  1. Compare the guides side-by-side to evaluate if the 7-color match is visually acceptable. If so, print using those inks. If not, specify the color as a formulated spot color ink.

compare extended color gamut guides side by side

Properly separated files will use only one of the three additional extended ink colors for spot color simulations. There are several prepress solutions that support 7-color extended gamut separations, such as the popular Esko Equinox™ for packaging. Equinox can also perform spot-to-process conversions if a file was designed using spot colors.

According to Voigt, “We want to make sure that we’re representing both the reference for those spot colors, as well as a good understanding of what is achievable, or should be achievable, with a given process. So we think it’s a natural extension and something that will be very, very helpful to the printing and packaging community as they strive for continued process improvement.”

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