The offset process Standard amendment is here


Below is an edited version of an article that appeared in the Australian print publication – Proprint (May 2007).

This the second in the three-part series of article by Yves Roussange, internationally recognised expert in colour management and Director of ColourProcess P/L.

The importance of ink

In January, 2007, there was an amendment to the offset process standard ISOcoated-v2 profile.  

A significant factor that lead to this amendment was the role played by ink. The quality of the ink used in a printing operation is the key to the successful implementation of the offset process standard: a method for achieving compliance to ISO 12647-2.

Creating a printing standard involves all parties within the industry. They include ink manufacturers, press manufacturers, educational and training institutions, proofing supply companies as well as vendors of software and hardware.

In Germany, FOGRA (an industry based education and research organization) and BVDM (a printing industry body) developed a profile based on European printing conditions for offset coated paper using a specific set of inks. They made this “ISOcoated_27L” profile available to their members and then collected data on the daily use of this profile in practice. After three years it became apparent that some minor changes had to be implemented to achieve a globally acceptable printing standard for this type of offset sheet-fed printing if it were to gain acceptance outside of Europe. The outcome is a new ICC profile: ISOcoated Vs2_39L.

Developing this profile required more than the resources of BVDM and FOGRA. The ISO TC 130 committee combined colour data from the US, Japan, Brazil and Europe to determine optimum values for the overprint colours. The end result was an amendment to the offset process standard: ISO 12647-2:2004/. In order to generate this profile a new set of characterisation named FOGRA39L had to be generated. This new “ISOcoated-V2_39L” profile is based on the following reference printing condition:

  • Offset printing
  • Paper Type 1 {i.e. gloss-coated art paper, 110gsm)
  • 15% tone value increase (TVI) at the 50 % midtone.

ISOcoated_27L Vs ISOcoated-V2_39L – what’s new?

The three significant areas of improvement reflected in the new ISOcoated_v2_39L profiles are:

  • the yellow has been slightly adjusted in terms of the L* value
  • the secondary colours green and blue were harmonised between the participant nations
  • the grey balance is closer to neutral in the new FOGRA39L characterization data compared to the FOGRA27L data

Improvements from ISOcoated_27L to ISOcoated-V2_39L;

According to all reports the new profile is a significant improvement on the quality of the separation from RGB to CMYK and an improvement in proofing stability. Using this new dataset has also made it quicker for a printer to finalise make-ready, as the ink/data results from the proofing are more closely aligned with on-press results.

Practical advantages

Proofing using the ICC profile ISOcoated-V2

The exchange of PDF files has become simpler as they are all created based on an international printing standard. This has improved the communication between the creator of the artwork and the printer. Everybody will ‘speak’ the same colour language; there is less room for error and colour will look the same on the monitor, proof and press sheet.

Other advantages for the artwork creator using the ISOcoated profile include:

    • the use of a standardised colour space means that a colour for example, “C60, M40, Y10, K5”, will be the same in any application

  • soft-proofing on the monitor using the ISOcoated-v2 profile will give the closest idea of the end result on the press (as long as the monitor is profile in accordance with accepted colour management practice.

Proofs created using the ISOcoated-v2 profile are produced using the same reference characterisation data as the press. The proofed result can be best judged by comparing a control wedge on the proof to that on the press sheet, thereby guaranteeing the best reproduction. A proof certification report that is based on the compliance of its colours to the characterisation data will give the printer the assurance that it can be reproduced on the press. The communication between client and printer is therefore significantly enhanced.

Printing to ISOcoated-V2

Printing to a recognised standard also gives the printer many advantages. Printers working within the tolerance bands of the offset process standard will be able to better defend themselves against charges that their printed results are too variable. Printing to the ISOcoated-V2 profile for all work on coated art improves not only the efficiency of processes on the press – it also streamlines and improves the effectiveness of communication between sales teams, clients and production staff.

In Germany printers are adopting PSO (Process Standard Offset) as the means to achieving compliance with the standard. In effect, PSO prescribes a methodology, developed by FOGRA, for achieving compliance to the ISO standard for the printing and prepress operators. In combination with certified proofing, it enables the printer to keep the press in a closed loop to the print standard: ISO 12647-2:2007. In doing so it minimises setup times and waste and facilitates a more efficient and consistent standards-based workflow.