FESPA 2019: ColorGATE and freieFarbe e.V. cooperate to provide spectral descriptions of spot colors

For effective brand color management, high color accuracy is required for spot colors, e.g. when creating packaging using digital printing or when creating digital inkjet proofs for conventionally produced packaging (e.g. flexible packaging, folding boxes, cardboard boxes). There is also an increasing demand for high color accuracy in the reproduction of corporate colors on textiles. However, many manufacturers have launched their own color collections for their products, so the number of color collections in use around the world is certainly in the thousands. Free color calculation is hardly possible, color comparisons must be calculated manually. Copyright law sets further limits to free use.

Open color communication for consistent color output

ColorGATE and freieFarbe e.V. are working together to offer a solution for that: open communication and management of spot colors based on mathematical color models and open standards.

Colors that are represented in a mathematical model with a fixed step size do not enjoy copyright protection. This is beneficial, because, for example, it enables the publication of the RGB or CYMK values, as well as the comparison to other systems or the arbitrarily fine calculation of intermediate and opposing colors.


CIELAB and spectral data are the most important standards in industrial color practice, i.e. in the measurement and formulation of color.

The device-independent and fully computable LAB color space introduced in 1976 is standardized according to ISO 17972 and is supported by numerous application programs and exchange formats used by the graphic industry such as PDF, TIFF and JPEG. It allows copyright-free definition of any color.

The mathematical models CMYK and RGB, on the other hand, are limited to the underlying output situation, the so-called "gamut".

In contrast to RGB and CMYK, the LAB color space is also equally spaced. This means: A certain color distance (e.g. 2) provides a color difference of approximately the same size, no matter in which color range it is detected. This allows color accuracy to be communicated very easily. 

For a higher intuitivity of the color values, the CIELAB polar coordinates HLC are used instead of the Lab color values. HLC stands for: 

• H: Hue

• L: Lightness

• C: Chroma

DIN SPEC 16699 "Open Color Communication" describes procedures for professional communication of color from design to production. This includes in particular the production of color atlases based on the CIELAB HLC color space, the use of inkjet printing systems and the use of spectral data in the open CxF format.

freieFarbe e.V. promotes license-free open color communication in order to enable consistent color results in all application areas and coloring processes. As a practical tool, freieFarbe e.V. produces color atlases based on DIN SPEC 16699 and thus provides the corresponding CIELAB and spectral data free of charge in order to develop further application areas (e.g. color recipe).

CIELAB HLC Colour Atlas by freieFarbe e.V.

Spectral Spot Module: CIELAB HLC Coulor Atlas for fully digital and non-standardized printing environments

The HLC Colour Atlas libraries are included in the upcoming major release of ColorGATE: in the new Spectral Spot Module. The benefits of open color communication will be brought to fully digital production environments for the first time, whilst effective brand color management has also arrived in non-standardized printing environments, such as digital packaging printing. 

The Spectral Spot Module enables the creation and management of extensive spot color tables. It supports spot color descriptions in CxF/X4 format according to ISO 179972-4. This improves the reproduction accuracy in both commercial and industrial printing applications, especially when using digital printing. This innovative solution improves the entire production workflow, from designer through prepress and production to finishing.

"As a long-time companion for accurate and consistent color in digital production, we are pleased to support this well thought-out and easy-to-use initiative from freieFarbe e.V. and thus offer our users a cost-effective way to communicate and share colors across applications.", says Thomas Kirschner, CEO and founder of ColorGATE.

"We are delighted about our partner membership and the good cooperation with ColorGATE. Free color communication in the wide range of applications of modern inkjet printing is the gateway to new, sometimes unexpected color perspectives.", says Holger Everding, chairman of freieFarbe e.V.

FESPA 2019

At FESPA 2019 in Munich, May 14- 17, ColorGATE presents the new Spectral Spot Module for the first time. Meet our trained and customer-oriented application specialists at booth K 26 in hall B4. Our team will be pleased to advise you on your personal challenges in the field of commercial and industrial printing.

Jan-Peter Homann from freieFarbe e.V. will also be at ColorGATE’s booth for a while. You can inform yourself about freieFarbe e.V. and also have the possibility to check sample prints.

About ColorGATE

For more than 20 years, ColorGATEs color competence has been supporting the graphic arts industry with its printing equipment manufacturers as well as producers, operators and technology users for Sign & Display, decor, ceramic, textile and packaging. The market for large format printing with its applications in LFP and Wide Format also benefits from ColorGATEs solution competence on the way from analogue to digital printing and into the future of Print 4.0. 

ColorGATE has been successful on the up-and-coming market of Industrial Printing and the revolution of inkjet technology since the beginning in 2000. 

ColorGATE delivers an innovative, tailor-made and modular portfolio of software and hardware solutions in the specific application areas for industrial printing and decoration processes along the entire process chain. Effective color management always ensures optimal color rendering and consistent reproduction, while standardization and automation of the production processes maximize productivity with flexible configuration, as needed. 

ColorGATE Digital Output Solutions GmbH is managed by co-founder Thomas Kirschner as CEO since 1997 and is an independent subsidiary of Ricoh Company Ltd. since 2018.

About freieFarbe e.V. (free Colour Association)

The non-profit association was founded in 2016 by German and Swiss color experts. It promotes digital color communication with open, mathematically defined color models and ISO standards. In cooperation with DIN, the DIN SPEC 16699 "Open Color Communication" was developed and its reference implementation, the CIELAB HLC Colour Atlas, published. This atlas includes a freely available PDF version as well as spectral color libraries and a high-precision print output for physical reference. freieFarbe is supported by various companies working in the fields of color communication and output, and anyone who wants to support the free color approach is invited to participate.

freieFarbe e.V., Oldenburg, Germany

www.freiefarbe.de / www.freecolour.org


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