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I have an HP latex 335 large format printer and utilise SAI software for the rip etc.

I have a client who requires a print that matches there Pantone.

My question is I have discovered the colour mapping function within SAI which allows you to print a sample with cmyk variations which you than use to compare to your specific Pantone. Once you have found the closest matching option you can update the colour within SAi so in future any artwork with that Pantone prints with the amended cmyk values. This process is achieved by importing an eps file with the Pantone. Now where I’m confused is if a do my artwork in AI and export a PNG or PDF as CMYK, when I import into SAI how does it know the Pantone I’m using? Apologies if I’m overthinking this. In my AI doc should the colour management be set as spot or process?

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I don't know the specific hardware, so take this only as a comment.

If you are using RGB or CMYK you are not using Pantone.

Define your colors as spot colors, as real Pantone, that way your color profiles and transformations can work.

If you are using RGB or CMYK you probably need to prepare another color profile.

if a do my artwork in AI and export a PNG

Do not do that. You now want to go from RGB to Pantone to CMYK... Do not do that. It does not make sense.

PDF as CMYK

Again, if what you need is for the machine to print variations of a Spot ink, do not send a CMYK file. In this case, you are letting the profile Illustrator is currently using make the decision on what CMYK values should be.

As I understand, you use an EPS file with the patch of the color. It prints some variations. you choose the best. The machine stores the values. So you simply use a PDF with spot inks.

If the machine also tells you which CMYK values are used, you can try using CMYK values directly on your file, then, yes, you can use the CMYK values, but only because of the feedback, not because it is again an internal conversion from CMYK to Pantone and CMYK again.

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