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CHROMiX ColorNews Issue #53 - How to Check for Optical Brighteners

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  CHROMiX ColorNews
   Issue # 53 - October 23rd, 2013

This Month's Contents

  1. CHROMiX News
  2. Latest blog entries in ColoRants (and Raves)
  3. Shows and Events
  4. Color Industry News
  5. Forum Topics, Random Bits, etc.
  6. Article - How to Check for Optical Brighteners
  7. CHROMiX Open Box items for sale
  8. ColorNews Admin (feedback, subscriptions, etc.)

For the very freshest color updates, check out our new blog Colorants (and raves).

Respond & Discuss
Don't forget, you can discuss this month's article and anything else from this newsletter in

Find full details about subscriptions, etc at the end of this newsletter.

CHROMiX News What the heck have we been up to?

Curve3... v3.0.1 released

Curve3 v3.0.1 is now available for download. Updates include Verify tool improvements for low density measurements, plus some UI improvements.
Especially notable is the new EFI Fiery DLP curve save selection function, which allows Fiery systems, version 8r2 or newer, to support Device Link Profiles (DLP) created by Curve3. This allows EFI users to implement a true curve-based G7 calibration in their workflow for the first time.
Also, we've added a new function to export the 4-curve file set required by HP Indigo presses.

And here is what users are saying about Curve3:

"The new 'smoothing' algorithm in Curve3 has improved our results for variant devices, and I strongly recommend Curve3 for anyone wanting to conform to G7" Rich Cline, Hammer Packaging

"Curve3 is by far the best version of Curve to date. A user friendly interface and relevant data that is easy to understand. Curve3 is a must have, and essential for any G7 workflow."
Todd Miller, Electronic Prepress Color Specialist, Independent Printing Company, Inc.

"Curve 3 has simplified my G7 calibrations to half the time." Chris Norman, Diocesan Publications

"Having the functionality to load in any custom set of curves as a basis run makes updating older calibrations, that weren't done with Curve software, easier than ever." Scott Vanden Boom, Menasha Packaging

"With Curve3 we can calibrate to GRACoL in just a few simple steps. A tool that is a must for anyone who is in the printing trade." Also, "With Curve3 added Esko's PressSync feature, makes building workflows a snap." Kerry Thonen, The ALC Group

Isn't it time you upgrade to Curve3 also?

Maxwell News

Maxwell Client 4.1.4 (new version) is now available:
- fixed issue in Maxwell which stopped Maxwell Client (MXC) from getting proper information regarding track parameter updates (metrics, etc). Not part of this version but originally thought to be a MXC issue. (fixed 9/22/13)
- added thread-based updating of track name / status and device name updates from Maxwell. Color Tracks in UI will now get name updated periodically to reflect changes in Maxwell or will be unbonded from MXC if track or track's device is deleted in Maxwell. Updates occur 1) at launch 2) within 24 hours of last successful update if still running or 3) reattempts will occur at 15 min intervals if unsuccessful.
- added advanced menu and menu items for clearing the DB cache and forcing track name update.

A Reporting note for Maxwell users:

For a while we have promoted the benefits and power of Multi-Dimensional Reporting. Here is a ColorWiki page that describes the general functionality of Multi-Dimensional Reporting in Maxwell. It reads much like a Users Guide and provides excellent visuals (including a YouTube video overview).

Isn't it time you gave Maxwell a look? Maxwell is the most innovative cloud-based Verification, QA/QC system in the printing industry today.

Maxwell can remotely supervise the performance of almost any device from your web browser. You can track, trend, verify and analyze workflow devices ranging from spectrophotometers, LCD monitors, printers, proofers and presses. Plus, Maxwell will help you determine the performance or conformance to industry standards or in-house tolerances for every device. Maxwell includes strong Pass/Fail features and custom label printing. Maxwell also has a strong 'layered' notification system and can alert any person(s) or group(s) involved in the chain of information.

For more information, to receive a demo or to discuss your company's Printing Verification/QA/QC needs, please contact CHROMiX Sales Toll Free at (866) CHROMiX (866-247-6649) extension #1, or email at

Maxwell Customer Quote

"We absolutely could not do without Maxwell. I have no other way to manage 17 digital presses on 3 different platforms and have them match. We can also match color globally using Maxwell's scientific approach. This could not be done using traditional methods." Henry Anderson, Technology and Color Specialist, CDS Publications, A Consolidated Graphics Company

CHROMiX at 2013 PIA Color Management Conference

Steve Upton, Pat Herold and Rick Hatmaker will be in Phoenix at the PIA Color Management Conference with multiple appearances. Steve and Pat will both be involved with speaking and/or labs (stay tuned to topics, dates and times), and Rick will be fielding questions and providing demo's in the Vendor area.

Come by and see us!


CHROMiX Blog Here are some of the recent posts to our blog: Colorants (and raves)

Shows and Events Color-relevant gatherings to plan for

October 23rd - 26th, 2013 - PhotoPlus Conference + Expo, Javits Convention Center, New York City, NY

October 23rd - 25th, 2013 - Specialty Printing and Imaging Technology Expo 2013 (SGIA), Orlando, FL, Orange County Convention Center.

December 7th - 10th, 2013 - 2013 PIA Color Management Conference, in Phoenix at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. CHROMiX will be there!

March 6th - 8th, 2014 - Dscoop 9th Annual Conference 2014 - Orlando, FL, USA. Dscoop is an acronym for 'Digital Solutions Cooperative of HP Graphic Art Users' and the single largest Indigo User Group in the world.

Events Calendar: For all current and future events, bookmark this calendar.

Color Industry News What's going on in the world of color

Adobe Print Engine 3

Adobe's recently launched PDF Print Engine 3 (APPE3) has the potential to significantly evolve the print industry. As you would expect, there is a lot of information and hype floating around about APPE3 and the Mercury RIP Architecture. This clarifying commentary and analysis titled Adobe PDF Print Engine 3: The Next Step in Digital Printing Efficiency by Cary Sherburne and David Zwang (WhatTheyThink?) is a MUST read for everyone.

GTi's new Soft View SOFv-1xiQ

At Print13 in Chicago CHROMiX saw the new Soft View SOFv-1xiQ and talk with Bob McCurdy about this new product. Featuring the new iQ sensor, this desktop soft-proofing system facilitates matching between hard proofs and computer monitor. The Soft View SOFv-1xiQ also won a Must See 'Em award at Print13.

IDEAlliance new Diagnostic/Verification Target

IDEAlliance announced a Verification Test Target for measuring instruments. The target is an easy to use diagnostic tool designed to verify the stability of spectrophotometer devices over time. The Verification Test Target was conceived by the IDEAlliance Print Properties and Colorimetric Council and was developed by the Munsell Color Lab at X-Rite.

Non-member price is $300 and member price is $270 after November 1st (10% discount until Oct. 31). Rumored to be shipping by 4th quarter 2013.

We think this is a good move for the industry and have advocated instrument integrity for a long time. In fact, CHROMiX conducted the 2008 SWOP Proofing study for IDEAlliance which contributed to the SWOP and GRACoL specification tolerances. Maxwell was the back-end system for this study which also included a section on measurement instrument accuracy and consistency. Today, we call this service simply 'MeasureWatch'.

So, back to the NEWS.... CHROMiX will be a reseller of the IDEAlliance Verification Test Target, CHROMiX will bundle it with MeasureWatch, PLUS, any current IDEAlliance members buying the Verification Test Target (from any source) will get a free 1 year subscription of MeasureWatch from CHROMiX. See ad below.

X-Rite's new scanning 'trolley' for the eXact

CHROMiX was able to demo the upcoming scanning 'trolley' accessory at Print13. This accessory will enable target scanning for the eXact instrument and will be an important capability (especially for G7) for overall market adoption. We were sufficiently impressed with the trolleys performance and versatility. Those who need to use the eXact for target scanning should love this. No word yet on pricing or availability, although rumor is it should be released by early 2014.

Forum Topics and other bits  Popular topics from and other things we've found along the way.

The Color... RUN:   Finally, a 5k run for our industry! The Color Run is touted as the 'Happiest 5k on the planet'. How could it not be?

HDMI 2.0 is here!:   Check out the potential bandwidth of HDMI 2.0!

Hue Connected Light bulbs?:   Controlled from your Smartphone via WiFi. We wonder how close these can get to D50?

Spectral Composition of Sun Light:   Have you ever wondered about this aspect of SUN LIGHT?

Sun Light... as plotted in Maxwell:   Relating to the Forum Topic above this one... While it might be interesting to the average person, this sort of spectrum is nothing new to viewers of spectral data in Maxwell.

WiFi's new capability:   Up to a one mile range for WiFi... seriously?!

How to Check for Optical Brighteners by Pat Herold

Printing papers, scorpions and counterfeit wine bottles. Optical brighteners have been popping up in more places in recent years. It's a very exciting topic in more ways than one.

Presses are running more media containing optical brighteners than ever before. The ISO 3664 standard just last year required viewing booths to have more ultraviolet light in their lamps, which will bring out more whiteners in the papers. Photographers are choosing to print onto media with more optical brighteners despite the availability of papers without them. Just this week I got a call from a wine merchant who is using ultraviolet lights to look for optical brightening agents in counterfeit wine labels.

With so much activity around this subject, it's useful to know what they are and how to detect them.
This article will present a few practical ways to determine when optical brightening agents are present in your media as well as some suggestions about how to determine how much is present.

Optical brightening agents (OBA's) are additives that paper manufacturers put into paper in order to help a paper look "whiter." These artificial whiteners are chemicals which can take invisible ultraviolet light and cause it to re-emit - or fluoresce - in the nearby blue spectrum, at a wavelength that is just barely within our ability to see, around 430-460 nanometers. While our eyes see this as a brighter, blue-ish white - a light measuring instrument will only see this as a different form of blue. That is why printer profiles made with paper using a lot of optical brighteners can end up printing out images that have a yellow tint to them. The profile is trying to correct for what it sees as too much blue in the paper.
If a paper visually appears to be a bright white, it will likely have some OBA's in it. This is not true in every case. Paper without OBA's (or very little) include "silver halide" RA-4 process photographic paper, certain press proofing papers, and specific fine art papers marketed as having a "warm tone".

Especially in the area of inkjet media, a number of high quality art papers look fairly bright to the eye, but actually have no OBA's in them. This is part of what makes these papers high quality and appreciated for the longevity of any image you put on them - and more expensive, since the manufacturers have to come up with other ways to achieve this brightness. Just a few examples are Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, Canson Fine Art Watercolor, and Crane Museo papers. Popular papers like Epson Ultra Premium Photo Luster and Red River Ultra Pro Satin show a very strong white, but have very few OBA's in them.

In a high volume environment, when you are wanting to make quick decisions about a large variety of papers, a simple black light comes in very handy. It used to be hard to find a small, handheld fluorescent fixture that contained a black light tube. Nowadays, it's easy to pick up flashlights that contain ultraviolet LED's. The lamps are made to produce ultraviolet light while blocking most of the visible light. When this light source comes in close proximity to optical brightening agents, the light will "excite" the OBA's in the paper, and the surface will fluoresce with a bright blue glow. When first trying this, have a sample of known OBA-free paper on hand to compare to some everyday bond copy paper. The copy paper will show the tell-tale glow while the "natural" paper will hardly react at all.

These lights can be readily purchased online. For a local source, try your neighborhood pet supply store. These are often sold as pet urine detectors. Or if you live in Arizona, UV flashlights are sold to hunt down scorpions in the dark, as they fluoresce under UV light. (I'm going to have to try this when I get to Phoenix this December!)

A more quantifiable method for determining how much OBA's you have is to look at the L*a*b value of the paper white of your stock. It is frequently true that the higher the negative "b" value of your Lab measurement, the higher the amount of OBA's in your paper. This will be true as long as your paper visually looks to be fairly neutral in color, and when you are using a measurement device that uses the full spectrum of light (without a UV-cut filter).

For example, if your paper white measurement returns a Lab value of 97, 1,-1 then you probably don't have OBA's or very few (if your paper looks white and you're not using a UV-cut instrument). If your Lab value is 97, 0, -6 then your measurement instrument is likely picking up the fluorescing of your OBA's and giving you a high -b value.

A number of instruments can measure with UV light included as well as UV excluded. Among these are the X-Rite iSis, eXact, i1Pro 2, and the Konica Minolta FD-7. Using one of these instruments, measure the paper white both ways, and then compare the two measurements. A paper with no OBA's will have a very similar result regardless of which filter is used. (Some difference will be expected due to normal instrument variation.) For papers with a large delta E difference - especially in the whites, this will be directly related to how much the OBA's have been excited by the UV light.

Finally, a sure indicator of the presence of OBA's can be gleaned from spectral analysis of a paper white measurement. Remarkably, paper that has OBA's will show over 100% of the light's reflectance in the blue spectrum. This means the instrument is capturing more light returning from the paper than is being delivered to (shone on) the paper! This is a demonstration of what I mentioned earlier. Light below this wavelength is being converted to a wavelength that we can see, is re-emitting and adding to the light. The online color repository, Maxwell, provides a histogram like this, as well as the discontinued MeasureTool program. Note that the measurement must contain spectral values rather than Lab-only values. Bring up a histogram of the paper white patch, and check out the wavelength at about 440nm. If there is an obvious blue hump there, and especially if it is reporting more than 100% of the reflectance, then you know that white is getting a little extra help.

Whether you need to quickly determine which paper stocks have OBA's in them, or if you want to find out which stock in the past had been printed with OBA's, there are several methods here that will fit your needs in an "exciting" way.

Thanks for reading,

Patrick Herold

To read this article with images in ColorWiki, click here

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Entire Contents of CHROMiX ColorNews (c)2013 CHROMiX, Inc. CHROMiX, Maxwell, ColorThink, ColorNews, ColorSmarts, ColorGear, ColorForums, DisplayWatch and are trademarks of CHROMiX Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. CHROMiX ColorNews is intended as an informative update to CHROMiX customers and business associates. We are not responsible for errors or omissions. You may not copy or reuse any content from this newsletter without written permission from CHROMiX, Inc.