A common standard for gravure printing

A common standard for gravure printing
For a long time, publication gravure printing has been working with a common process standard, as is also the aim for package gravure printing (Source: Burda Druck)

During the recent ERA event “International Gravure Days” David Möller, CEO of 4Packaging, a German company active in the field of gravure printing, embossing die production and digital reproduction, explained his vision of a common standard for gravure packaging printing. His approach is to reduce the effort and therefore the costs of creating fingerprints by making the resulting colour profiles available to gravure printing companies without restriction.

There have always been similar initiatives in the past, but this time the large engraving companies and package print shops with own cylinder production departments, seem to be prepared to go down this path together.


At the round table session during the event, five international experts, led by colour management expert Juergen Seitz of GMG, a German supplier of colour management solutions, discussed in detail the prerequisites and further development steps required to establish a common industry standard. The aim is to create a standard that makes the entire package gravure printing production process faster, more efficient and more automated. In this respect, package gravure printing may learn from publication gravure printing, which has already gone through this complex and elaborate process and successfully implemented a common print standard.

Without a doubt, colour is probably the most challenging parameter when defining a common print standard. While many other parameters are relatively easy to quantify, the standardisation of an objective colour impression proves to be much more difficult. One of the decisive elements in any standardisation process is therefore the definition of clearly defined standards or colour targets that leave no room for interpretation in order to achieve a repeatable process in print production. This requires consistent work with “neutral” digital spectral colour data throughout the entire print workflow.

Pantone meets this challenge by creating and publishing libraries of digital colour standards. These represent the best possible match of Pantone colours for different packaging materials, ink systems and printing processes. The PantoneLive libraries match to real inks and packaging substrates and take into account their limitations and performance in the technical implementation of Pantone colours. As these are the official target specifications, there is no need for different versions based on individual interpretations.

In this context, uniformly calibrated spectrophotometers are of crucial importance, especially when package print shops operate globally. They check whether defined colour targets are to achieve within tight tolerances, as visual human colour assessments are not compatible with efforts to establish common standards. Since long, the industry masters this challenge by using spectrophotometers, which capture colour reflectance data and convert it into reliable digital colour values. This is because objective colour measurements and correction software are the basis for true standardisation.