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Hello to all the graphic design professionals out there,

I was wondering if you could share your experience on color printing on plastic bottles. (like this material)

enter image description here

I am struggling because I chose a Pantone color (586C) design and went with two different print vendors. The result was that, the color came out differently on each bottle. One bottle came out way off and has an orange tone. I always export my production files with the appropriate Pantone settings.

1.I was wondering if there is anyway to ensure accuracy in color output from my side. I thought choosing Pantone is the safest way to get the correct color.

  1. Is there anything I need to learn about the production side of printing such as the different types of materials being used or other factors that effect color printing? Is this screen printing? How is it different than normal paper printing? Or is the onus on the printers?

  2. What would you do in this situation as a designer? We would like to submit multiples Pantone colors on sample bottles to insure we get the right color. But each sample costs quite a bit of money (250 dollars) and my company doesn't have enough budget for that.

What the designer is doing is looking at Pantone colors on the screen and present to boss. I am not sure if that is going to be good representation of true color.

Thank you in advance for any help.

  • Boss has decide to go with uncoated Pantone color because they like how it is on the screen. I am very confused now. Is it screen doesn't reflect true color since we are talking about printing on a bottle... – user2105ocl Nov 4 '14 at 18:22
  • Yes, Boss is lacking an understanding of how all this works. You pick pantone colors from a swatch book--not a computer screen. – DA01 Nov 4 '14 at 21:36
  • But yes, Pantone is a color standard. If you ask for a specific pantone color, no matter who prints it, it should match. Hold up your pantone swatch to the the two bottles and pick the printer that actually matched the color correctly. – DA01 Nov 4 '14 at 21:37
  • Pantones are like any other ink; the printer needs to adjust the density on his machines. If the density is wrong then the color will be wrong as well. Some printers also don't buy the "pantones" inks; they makes their own mix. How you can get the right color? With a contract and approving a proof, go at the print place if possible when they start print batch & demand to approve the color. If you sign a proof, you can also require in the contract that the final product MUST be exactly as the proof or the prints will be refused. Use an ISO printer if you want consistency, work closely with them – go-junta Aug 8 '15 at 0:48
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Disclaimer: I have no experience printing on plastic bottles like this, but I can offer some insight as someone working in the printing industry.

I was wondering if there is anyway to ensure accuracy in color output from my side. I thought choosing Pantone is the safest way to get the correct color.

It could be the safest way, assuming that your printer actually has the right ink system. The discrepancy might be because one printer had the base inks required to mix Pantone colors, but the other just eyeballed it as close as possible or perhaps converted it to CMYK instead.

The printer might not be totally up front about this, so your best bet is to ask them how to specify the color so that the end result is closest as possible to your expectations.

Is there anything I need to learn about the production side of printing such as the different types of materials being used or other factors that effect color printing? Is this screen printing? How is it different than normal paper printing? Or is the onus on the printers?

One thing that seems important for you to know (based on your comment) is that coated and uncoated colors are mixed the same. The coated vs. uncoated refers to the type of paper printed on. PMS 586C and 586U both require the same ratios of base yellow, blue, and white:

Pantone screenshot

The process used by your printers could very well be screen printing, but we wouldn't be able to answer that for you.

What would you do in this situation as a designer? We would like to submit multiples Pantone colors on sample bottles to insure we get the right color. But each sample costs quite a bit of money (250 dollars) and my company doesn't have enough budget for that.

Verify with your printer that they actually are using a Pantone system to mix their inks. If they are, get a Pantone color book. That will give you the closest possible expectation for how the ink will turn out. An RGB or CMYK representation will have some level of inaccuracy (especially RGB, you're looking at a backlit screen instead of a printed representation).

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