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Having Your Cake and Profiling It!

Over the years I’ve colour managed printing onto a wide range of different materials, including ceramics, cloth and leather, but recently I’ve been working on my first edible media.

A company approached us that produce cake printing systems for supermarkets. They manufacture a booth that customers can use to upload their photos from memory cards or mobile phones and the booth even has a scanner. Alternatively the customer can choose from a standard cake design. The customer can then add messages to the design and then it’s printed in the store bakery. The printer used is a customized inkjet printer that uses, of course, edible inks and prints onto thin sheets of icing that are then put on top of the cake. The colour results had been good but recent changes to food standards has forced them to change their ink recipes and this caused them some colour reproduction problems, hence their approach to us.

Since the system is based on a conventional inkjet it was actually relatively easy to profile. The main problem I had was the drying time of the ink on the icing. I had to leave the sheets for about an hour before measuring them with an i1 Pro – I wasn’t about to try putting sheets of icing through my X-Rite i1 iSis.

[quote style=”boxed”]Normally there isn’t much benefit to profiling with a larger number of colour patches but when a device isn’t printing in a very linear or predictable manner then more patches can help.[/quote]

Initial results were encouraging but I had only used a small set of colour patches and there were some colour casts at various points along the grey gradation on my test image. I re-profiled using nearly 1000 colour patches and got a much better result. Normally there isn’t much benefit to profiling with a larger number of colour patches but when a device isn’t printing in a very linear or predictable manner then more patches can help.

All the testing had been done with Adobe Photoshop implementing the profiles, however the booth prints using the company’s own software and it couldn’t implement ICC profiles. We did try implementing the profile in the inkjet driver and Windows but neither result was anywhere close to Photoshop. I’ve never found applying profiles in Windows or printer drivers to be of any use. The company has gone back to their software developer and are updating their system to include the ability to apply ICC profiles. They are very pleased with the improvement to the prints and are back to the standard of print they had with the old ink set.

[box type=”note” border=”full”]If you’re interested in us helping you profile any type of media, whether you want to do it yourself, or as a special project that we do for you, please get in contact. We offer a range of consultancy, training and support services for colour management and related areas.[/box]

 

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