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Production Defined: The Importance of Color for Your Operation

In our new series of blog posts, we’re featuring insights from our experts on the topics, trends and more that are defining how companies like yours are evolving and adapting to the production print industry. In this installment, we speak with Ricoh’s Tobias Saalfeld,US Director of Color Management Practice for Ricoh Production Print.Many things have changed in recent decades in the print industry but one thing that has remained the same is how businesses handle color – there are businesses who generate substantial revenue with high-end color, while there are businesses that simply aim to provide ‘pleasing’ color. The key change in color that the industry has experienced is the increased affordability and versatility of color management tools. Once the domain of only high-end print providers, today, you can subscribe to cloud-based services like Adobe’s for $50 a month and gain access to the same tools used by the likes of Marvel Comics and the NBA. At the same, digital devices have evolved in their versatility and affordability, easily matching the standards set by commercial offset equipment. Moreover, the process of color management in digital equipment has advanced to the extent that it is usually much faster, easier, and economical than on offset presses. The versatility of design, equipment, and color management tools comes with a price – not for products, but for training.color-management

Given this progress, some might ask how important color is in the grand scheme of things. I think it’s still critically important for businesses of all types. The boundaries of color matching and color manipulation will continue to be expanded by high-end businesses, especially as traditional print services providers transition to becoming marketing services providers. A crucial part of marketing is consistent branding, and a crucial part of consistent branding is color in order to achieve a common ‘look and feel’ across channels. Done intelligently, color management can ensure that banners are highly saturated for visibility, brochures look natural, and even a screen print on a T-shirt appears correctly.

On the more practical level, print service providers who are producing ‘pleasing color’ are also starting to invest more time and attention in color management, because it allows them to do so consistently and predictably. At minimum, smart color management leads to improvements in both, operator efficiency and process control, which cuts down on make-ready and production time and ultimately increases the bottom line of any size business.

Ricoh provides a wide range of hardware, software and services to customers with any level of color management requirement. Production RIPs (EFI Fiery, Kodak Creo) contain basic color management capabilities out of the box. To improve quality and user experience at an entry level, we provide our customers with at least an EFI ES-2000 or X-Rite i1Pro2 handheld spectrophotometer for printer calibration. For high-end color management, we’re engaging with high-end color solutions partners like CGS Oris and their Lynx and Pressmatcher solutions.

Color management products are only as beneficial as they are usable. With this in mind, we’re focused on providing our customers with color management solutions that enable them to run their business and not just a bunch of devices. Ricoh also offers full service color management packages for customers who want to outsource their color management needs. These services are highly customizable and allow any user and any business to receive the full potential of their color products without any color management knowledge or specialized staff.

Ricoh provides color management classes and one-on-one sessions with a specialist force of over 85 IDEAlliance certified Color Management Professional Masters and 16 IDEAlliance certified G7 Experts. These individuals make the true difference in improving a customer’s color management skills and taking your output to the next level.

Want to learn more about Ricoh’s color management services? Read about how our solutions and experts can help you and your company be more colorful: //

– Tobias Saalfeld
US Director of Color Management Practice