Color reproduction on varnished cardboard packaging by using lower ink coverages due to the gray component replacement image processing

Even in these challenging times, cardboard packaging industry is increasing its revenue with stable annual increase prediction, but customers are increasing demands on the packaging with respect to environmental protection, attractiveness, and branding. This article aims to determine the influence of image processing in terms of gray component replacement and overprint varnishing on the color reproduction on a cardboard packaging material. A test chart with tertiary colors was defined and modified by different gray component replacement levels. It was printed in accordance with ISO norm on coated and uncoated cardboard and finished by overprinting water based, offset, and UV varnish. The prepared samples were evaluated by measuring surface coverage, tone value increase (dot gain) of primary colors and calculating ΔE00 of defined tertiary colors. The results showed that gray component replacement application reduces ink consumption. Higher gray component replacement applied results in lower ink surface coverage, but the decrease is also dependent on the image content. The TVI (dot gain) is significantly influenced only by applying UV varnish, resulting with higher TVI. The color differences of the tertiary colors showed that increased level of the gray component replacement applied did not cause significant color differences, even decreased color difference in some cases. Additionally, applying gray component replacement decreased color differences in “reddish” part of the gamut. This research proved that lowering the ink consumption due to the gray component replacement will not cause significant differences in the color reproduction. Furthermore, varnishing with commercial offset or water-based varnish will not cause higher deviations in color reproduction, but use of the UV varnish would.