So you are a packaging printer and interested in a color quality software solution to help you reduce your make-readies, increase profitability, and produce more accurate & consistent color for your brand customers. Well, Techkon has a range of hardware and software solutions to help you achieve this goal. But today, I would like to spend a few minutes comparing and contrasting our two Chroma branded software solutions; ChromaLT and ChromaQA.
At a high level, both ChromaLT and ChromaQA are print quality or pressroom color quality solutions that are designed to give the press operator instant feedback regarding how well they are matching color and hitting their print quality metrics during a press run. However, each product has their own unique feature set which make it a better fit in certain print environments. Here’s some information to consider when trying to decide between ChromaLT and ChromaQA for your needs.
THE SHORT ANSWER:
Is ChromaLT Right for Me?
If you only print spot colors and are interested in seeing the deltaE’s (and ∆L, ∆a, ∆b, ∆C, & ∆h) and receiving direction on how to optimize the color match of those spot colors on press, then ChromaLT may be your best option (depending on what other features you require). Due to the simplicity of the software, ChromaLT is the easiest press-side color quality solution to deploy in the pressroom. Training is fast and operators are confident almost immediately using the software.
ChromaLT also gets a lot of interest from users of older color quality software products that have gone “end-of-life” and are no longer supported by the manufacturer. Many are moving away from these dead products and using ChromaLT as their software upgrade path. ChromaLT offers a similar feature set to these legacy software products and it is extremely economical compared to other software upgrade options. In addition, the transition from old to new is made easy with the ability to simply import an existing color standards database right into ChromaLT for a seamless transition.
When is ChromaQA Recommended?
Anytime you are printing process color work (CMYK, ECG, or other), I would immediately recommend ChromaQA. With ChromaQA, the feature set has been designed specifically to accommodate the additional color control metrics that are required for process color printing. These attributes include TVI, trap %, G7, and graybalance.
In addition, as detailed below, ChromaQA contains many more features that make it much more flexible and highly configurable for the needs of larger and more complex print manufacturing organizations.
How ChromaLT & ChromaQA Are Similar:
- Both are press-side software solutions designed to help press operators shorten their make-readies, increase color accuracy, and increase color consistency throughout each press run.
- Both solutions provide the press operator access to Techkon InkCheck which provides precise density adjustments to achieve the lowest possible deltaE on press with the current ink and substrate combination.
- Both provide the press operator clear PASS/FAIL indicators regarding color matches and CIELab graphs which illustrate the precise magnitude and direction for any color matching error. In addition, both provide trend graphs over time to show the color matching performance throughout the whole press run.
- Both are job based solutions where a “job” serves as a container that holds the color standards, tolerances, instrument measurement conditions, and the actual measurements from the printed samples.
- When the job is done, both allow a job report to be created and either saved or printed for the in-house quality department or even the end customer showing conformance to the agreed upon standards and tolerances.
- Both use a central database to store color standards, jobs, and measurement data. This common storage location allows data to be shared by different users, computers, and geographic locations.
- Both also include a software module to centralize, store, manage, and organize a printers’ color standards. This module also includes the ability to perform ink QC checks after a new recipe or batch has been created OR to perform incoming ink inspections from an outside supplier.
How ChromaLT & ChromaQA Are Different:
- ChromaQA stores everything in a SQL database that is running on the Amazon AWS Cloud Server. Therefore, internet connectivity is required at all times and users can access the data from anywhere in the world if they have internet connectivity. ChromaLT stores everything in a file system that is either located locally on the PC or somewhere on the customers’ network so that it can be shared by multiple seats of the software.
- ChromaQA is highly configurable for larger and more complex print manufacturing organizations with the ability to restrict access to either specific data and/or software features based on individual user accounts created within the system.
- ChromaQA has the ability to report on more color print attributes than ChromaLT including deltaE, Density, TVI, Trap %, and G7 compliance. ChromaLT only provides deltaE and Density values. Therefore, for process color jobs where it is important to control TVI, ChromaQA is the right solution.
- ChromaQA has an integrated ScoreCard feature that is extremely flexible and can be configured to mimic scoring systems used by other printers and brand customers.
- With ChromaQA, job template creation usually happens in the Prepress department because there are several steps to set up a new template. However, ChromaLT allows template or job creation to occur right in the pressroom because operators only have to know the names of the colors and the name of the job.
- ChromaQA has an optional Automation API available. This software API allows an MIS/ERP system to send job data directly to the ChromaQA Cloud Server so jobs can be created automatically and inserted into the ChromaQA database. This ensures the highest level of efficiency.
- ChromaQA includes a software module for creating customized queries so precise elements of data can be retrieved from the ChromaQA SQL server. These queries look across multiple jobs and print locations and are an extremely powerful way for the printer to learn from the data they have captured within ChromaQA. These learnings can then be used to make continuous process improvements in their print production workflow.
- ChromaQA has connectivity to PantoneLIVE. (It is important to note that this feature requires the user to purchase the appropriate PantoneLIVE licenses directly from X-Rite.)
ChromaLT VS ChromaQA Feature Comparison Chart
|Solid colors -> ∆E||✔||✔|
|Techkon InkCheck (density adjustments for lowest ∆E)||✔||✔|
|Manage Color Standards||✔||✔|
|Ink Drawdown/QC of Color Standards||✔||✔|
|Supports SpectroDens handheld spectrophotometer||✔||✔|
|Supports popular 3rd party spectrophotometers||✔||✔|
|Supports SpectroVision inline spectrophotometer||✔||TV / TVI for tint patches||✔|
|G7 process verification||✔|
|Score Card system||✔|
|Dynamic Query module||✔|
|MIS integration / Auto Job Creation||✔|
|Data on Chroma Cloud Server||✔|
|Enterprise Color Quality Solution||✔|
|Integration with Schawks ColorDrive||✔|
So if you are still trying to decide between ChromaLT and ChromaQA and you have specific questions regarding your pressroom color quality needs, please feel free to contact us directly. We are here to help and we also offer free trials of our software so you can begin using it in your environment and get feedback directly from your pressroom and print production team members. Thanks for reading and please give us a call to learn more.