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intro to Hexachrome
six-color basics
gamut matters
Whether it's for greater product shelf appeal or faithful reproduction of art or photographs, printing in Hexachrome® six-color process delivers. Its combination of purer CMYK plus PANTONE Hexachrome Orange and PANTONE Hexachrome Green inks extends the gamut dramatically when compared to four-color process printing. And in most areas of the color spectrum, it either meets or exceeds the gamut of RGB. This means that designs created on-screen can be reproduced in print.

ganging up to save
Using Hexachrome inks and Hexachrome separation software, one can simulate more PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM® Colors in six-color process than using CMYK inks in four-color process. So instead of changing the press every time you need new spot colors, you keep the press configured for Hexachrome and simulate them. Over 90% of the spot colors found in the PANTONE® FORMULA GUIDEcan be matched using Hexachrome.

By using six colors instead of four, Hexachrome can effectively reproduce a vast number of spot colors. Consider the impact of this on a line of ten over-the-counter pharmaceutical products where each outer package within the brand is printed using two unique spot colors. To print all these packages using standard methods would require 20 plates to accommodate all the spot colors used, ten separate press runs and wash-ups and 20 spot color inks. Using Hexachrome, the ten packages are ganged up on one sheet and printed at the same time, thereby requiring only one extended press run, six plates and six Hexachrome inks, all without loss of color integrity. The resulting savings by printing in Hexachrome can be substantial. It's no wonder that Hexachrome has become so widely used in the packaging industry where competition for consumer attention is fierce.


free-up press time
When Hexachrome was introduced, the overriding message was "More Color Gamut." Brighter greens. Truer purples. More vibrant oranges. Since the gamut of Hexachrome is significantly larger than using CMYK inks in four-color process, printers that offered Hexachrome won jobs simply on the premise of brighter, cleaner and more vibrant colors. Additional benefits of realistic skin tones and subtle pastels were also realized.

While this is great, another important story is often overlooked...one about saving money, working more efficiently and freeing up press time in certain print jobs. Typically, the way to achieve more press time is to either run jobs faster or purchase an additional press. But Hexachrome can create more open press time while utilizing existing equipment.

As Hexachrome does an excellent job of simulating spot colors, a press can stay configured for Hexachrome instead of changing it every time new spot colors are called for. This eliminates the wash-up time required between jobs to prepare the press. For those jobs with numerous spot colors, plate burning and hanging time is also reduced. Using Hexachrome, you can run more jobs in the same period of time by shortening the time it takes between press runs and enabling more 'billable' press time.


Workflow – CYMK vs. CMYKOG
Unlike CMYK printing, Hexachrome employs an RGB workflow so that color gamut is not compressed. At the outset, it is critical to develop an RGB and color managed workflow to maximize the extended color advantage. PANTONE HEXWAREe® plug-ins are used in conjunction with Adobe® Photoshop® and Adobe Illustrator® to color-correct files, separate into six channels and soft-proof images while QuarkXPress™ is Hexachrome enabled. Our Hexachrome Designer Primer, available as a PDF download, provides an easy to understand overview on preparing files for printing in Hexachrome. Lastly, in addition to a six-color press and access to six-color proofing system, specially formulated Hexachrome inks are required.

A PANTONE Hexachrome Authorized Printer Program is now available to recognize printers who have demonstrated their ability to achieve high quality Hexachrome output.

Download Article: beyond the four walls of color, Electronic Publishing, August 2003

Learn more about Hexachrome


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