So I was reading this question and stumbled into part of an answer:

Actually, there were systems that used Green and Orange in the past, but they were used to expand the range of the basic CMYK print, but these days the pigments are so good that hexachrome system was closed.

I was a student when hexachrome came around and I've discussed it in class before now that I teach but, to be honest, I haven't really seen it in use (other than a magazine I had that introduced the idea of hexachrome). I've had this discussion with colleagues before and no one really knows what happened to this technology.

How have the pigments changed? I'm sort of having problems understanding which properties of a pigment can improve to the extent that the extra inks could simply not be used (green, orange, and I believe violet was sometimes also included).

Were the costs for acquiring such a printing press too prohibitive for the different it actually makes? Was there a lack of support coming from the software? Is hexachrome widely used but I just live in some sort of isolated bubble? :-)

ETA: Wikipedia says:

Hexachrome was discontinued by Pantone in 2008 when Adobe Systems stopped supporting the HexWare plugin software.

But a quick search for CMYKOG printers suggests the technology still exists...

  • 2
    I guess digital print eliminate a lot of this stuff, Hexachrome is offset printing. There are more innovative things in digital printing like white ink, stamping, metallic stamping, plasticized embossed texture (I don't know the name in english, in Spain is UVI Relief)... too much to continue thinking about offset Hexachrome.
    – user120647
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 14:39
  • 1
    If I would be in the printing business, instead of buying a big wagon Hexachrome printer I would buy a good professional last model digital printer that would give me much more jobs to do.
    – user120647
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 14:46
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    I believe hexachrome has been succeeded by Extended Gamut print using the seven CMYKOGB inks. The three primaries, the three secondaries and black. Pantone makes a color fan for this. It should be able to mimic the hues of most Pantone colors, except of course neons and metallics. Haven't seen it in real life yet.
    – Wolff
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 15:36
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    I agree with @Wolff its been superseded i have actually seen these but i havent had a chance to use them. The problem is that application support is a bit lacking. Ideally all of our apps should be able to represent any color model we like to describe but in reality they can not.
    – joojaa
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 16:12
  • @joojaa, maybe the separation for CMYKOGB is made in the RIP software? So the designer just delivers RGB/Spot color artwork...
    – Wolff
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 16:42

2 Answers 2


I know this is an old post, but it deserves some more info.

The reason Hexichrome was discontinued is multi-part, but all rooted to profit. It really didn't die. It just changed form.

Hexichrome was first used primarily for fine art prints. (I think it was originally a proprietary technology, not Pantone technology.) Then someone realized that the extended gamut let them quite accurately reproduce a huge chunk of the Pantone spot library. Imagine what that does for ink sales.

Hexichrome was heavily licensed to head off abuse. That makes the market very narrow for Adobe who then decides it isn't profitable to support the plugins. Hexichrome dies. Almost. Pantone sells Hexichrome to HP/Indigo.

Hexichrome becomes Indichrome. Indichrome adds Violet to the mix and can hit 90% of the Pantone library and gives Indigo a strong advantage over other digital machines.

Eventually it is reborn as Pantone XG, adding the V from Indichrome. XG is used for flat builds of Pantone colors for brand identity. XG is heavily used in package printing. By using the 5th unit for O, G, or V and coordinating color runs, a printer can reduce countless color changeovers to just three.

I am not aware of anyone using it for extended gamut within color images yet because of lack of application support. If that has changed, I would love to hear about it.

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    Welcome @GSBatch and thank you for your contribution!
    – curious
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 20:24
  • "Hexichrome was heavily licensed to head off abuse" - what abuse?
    – Vikki
    Commented Dec 28, 2021 at 4:34
  • "what abuse?" - Due to the fact that Hexichrome could match so many spot colors, Pantone was worried that printers would stop buying mixed spot color inks. So, Pantone made it difficult for just any printer to adopt Hexichrome.
    – GSBatch
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 13:26

What happened is really easy to imply. No profit.

If it had no profit it is also easy to know why. Not enough people were using it.

And if not enough people were using it is also easy. It did not offer enough advantages over other systems.

Let's say each printing machine costs 100,000 dollars per printing head.

One machine of 4 heads would cost 400,000 dollars. One of 6 heads 600,000. This is 150% the cost of one 4 heads.

Yes, of course, the technology is there. There are several 6 head printing machines. But people started to use the extra heads to print some other spot inks. A metallic one, the company logo color, or adapted one head to add a varnish.

If you had a 4 head machine, you would need to clean the machine, add 2 more new inks, align the project again, print 2 new colors. This would take all day, and it is really, really more profitable to keep printing in "just" CMYK, Eight different projects on one day than only one.

If you have a smaller machine, let's say 2 heads you have a similar issue.

Now I am going to be really unprofessional assuming things.

What could change in an ink? The purity of the color, the resilience to degradation, the toxicity, new synthetic composition, cost?

enter image description here

But the real question is, does this "increased gamut, justify the increased cost?

This fake diagram represents the theoretical augment in the gamut provided by an Hexachrome system. Does it worth paying 50% of the cost, plus the extra time to print it?

enter image description here

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