Color by the Numbers
Crown Beverage implements color measurement system for Coors.April 2011 By Jean-Marie Hershey
Crown Beverage Packaging, a business unit of Crown Holdings, Inc., is a worldwide leader in metal packaging, with $8 billion in sales and more than 20,000 employees and 130+ plants worldwide. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Crown Beverage Packaging North America works with some of the largest consumer goods companies on the beverage side, including Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch, Dr. Pepper, Snapple, and many other private label brands. The company recently helped Molson Coors Canada streamline its printing process and enhance color consistency across different packaging facilities with the new SP64 spectrophotometric color measurement system from X-Rite. By asserting an automated color standard, color harmony now can be achieved across locations, thereby boosting the efficiency of the can printing operation and reducing both time-to-market and associated production costs.
Enhancing the brand experience
According to Marketing Manager Tom Hughes, Crown Beverage’s mission is straightforward, i.e., to help its customers build and strengthen their brands with the consumers they deal with every day. To accomplish this, the company focuses exclusively on beverage can design and production, working with the customer and the customer’s designated prepress house, and leaving cartons and labels to other suppliers.
The can printing process itself is unique. Unlike standard printing, which is 4-color process, wet on dry, there is no drying between the application of each color. The cylindrical can is sent through the press via air vacuum to a mandrill. The printing plate transfers each color onto multiple blankets, where they are registered wet-on-wet at speeds of up to 200 cans per minute. The complete image subsequently is wrapped around the cylindrical can and overvarnished with no drying time.
“A lot of it is generic industry process,” explained John Corelli, manager of graphics planning, customer and technical service North America. “The only area that is unique and somewhat proprietary is what we do internally to reduce variation on press.”
According to Corelli, the nature of the process gives rise to a certain amount of distortion in the printing—up to 25 percent ink gain on screen work. Referring to the need for ink curve adjustment, he said, “The desktop operator whose job is to perform the initial prepress separation has to understand how much to reduce a given screen to allow that gain in order to print as it should. You can’t go to press without making those adjustments.”