Are you able to match PMS colors for a business request?

Sublimation Color Management

Are you able to match PMS colors for a business request? Does achieving a rich, deep shade of black seem like a never-ending battle with your printer? Here are three different approaches to consider for keeping sublimated colors and products in tip-top shape.

Custom printer drivers

Custom printer drivers are software programs that have color correction built into the printer control system. The advantage of this method is the ability to use non-ICC compliant software (e.g. Paint Shop Pro, Print Shop) as well as ICC-compliant software, as the color correction is performed at the printer driver stage. In addition, it’s easier and less technical to use a custom printer driver than it is to use an ICC profile.

PrintDriver is a custom printer driver that provides lots of options for sublimation printing. (Image Courtesy Sawgrass Technologies)

One such software inserts a color palette into the graphics program so that a user can select colors from the palette while working on images. Sublimation professionals can check that the correct “final” color will be consistently produced during the sublimation production process.

When first using the software, be sure to test the different modes to see what ink coverage will work best with your sublimation paper.

ICC color profiles

Within the topic of color management, an ICC profile is “a set of data that characterizes a color input or output device, or a color space, according to standards promulgated by the International Color Consortium (ICC). Profiles describe the color attributes of a particular device or viewing requirement by defining a mapping between the device source or target color space and a profile connection space (PCS). Mappings may be specified using tables, to which interpolation is applied, or through a series of parameters for transformations.”
What that accurate but not-all-too-clear Wikipedia definition really means is that profiles communicate to the printer, making adjustments for more accurate color printing. Every printing device handles color and ink differently; a profile for an Epson will not work for a Ricoh, or between different Epson printers.

Color profiles are available from different companies but not all profiles will apply to sublimation use. Companies that create profiles specifically for sublimation use include Chromix (offers profiles for different industries; not specifically a sublimation company), Conde and Johnson Plastics. Color profiles cost around $100. Check with an individual company to confirm they offer profiles for your printer specifically, and to find out about the costs and process.

ICC profiles are a setting for graphics programs such as Adobe Photoshop and do not run as a separate program. In my own experience, color profiles provide excellent color and image fidelity when working with an array of images on different substrates.

Profiles are much more affordable than RIP software for many retailers. Yet, if your business plan includes professional photographer customers, RIP software may provide a deeper level of color managing that is needed when working within the photographic market.

Shown is a sample of a target file to print for color profiling. (Image Courtesy Chromix) Users can manage multiple images (or duplicates of the same image) and sizes easily in RIP Software. (Image Courtesy Ergosoft)

RIP software

There are a handful of industry-specific RIP software programs that can work for the dye sublimation process. RIPs are considered to be a large part of quality image and color production, especially in the photography and architectural sectors.

Managing measurements with Ergosoft. (Image Courtesy Ergosoft)
Photographers are some of the most detailed-orientated artists… they have to be. Their images represent their skills and talent, not only to customers, but to the photography industry as well. It is important for the photographer to have a great print that can represent their business to the best of their ability. It’s important to hit completely accurate colors when creating photo gift items or art panels for photographers; not just for the photographer’s bottom line, but yours as well. RIP software allows users to print with confidence.

It also allows multiple functions to be accomplished including color separations and corrections. Users can typically print images faster, but the software also allows them to align multiple images, and utilize automatic and manual tiling capabilities to make the most of the print area, among other image-processing quick functions.

RIP software can run printer support, depending on the brand, for Epson, Canon, HP and Mimaki, among the different printer brands and different drivers that are compatible. It does require some assistance to have it up and running and you may need additional supportive equipment to maintain accurate printing.

No matter which method you choose, don’t give up on taking your sublimation business to the next level. With proper color management, you can reach potential customers and overcome battles of hue.