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Swiss Maps Swap 5 colours for 4

Switzerland’s WOC’12 maps printed CMYK

Through research and utilisation of the latest processes in four colour (CMYK) printing, Switzerland was able to produce maps that satisfied the demands of our sport’s prestige events — the World Orienteering Championships.

Part of the story was OCAD’s new Layout Layer which made it easy to incorporate sponsor logos, printer’s crop marks and other useful map artwork.

Switzerland’s O magazine earlier this year published an article by Thomas Gloor, CEO of OCAD, on the topic. You can read the English translation (PDF 2pp)

Is this important to Australia and NZ?

Undoubtedly.

Firstly, the cost of top class CMYK offset printing is generally lower than that of PMS (Pantone) offset printing for the relatively small quantities required by our sport.

Secondly, CMYK printing enables the easy incorporation of raster (JPG, TIFF, PNG, GIF) images such as sponsors’ and clubs’ logos plus photos.

So are we lagging?

Maybe not a lot.

With one exception (see below) I have always presumed WRE (World Ranking Events) and above in Australia are PMS printed. A quick look at the relevant page on the Orienteering Australia website supports my perception.

However, I am aware that at a lower level,  Bendigo Orienteering club has produced detailed rogaine maps (compiled from orienteering maps) that are CMYK offset printed.

With significant recent interest in colour conformance by the Australian CMYK offset print industry, we should be able to achieve the same results as the Swiss although some effort, and maybe cost, will be required.

CMYK offset colour conformance

Why is colour conformance an enabler? It isn’t in itself. But to me, accreditation to a recognised colour quality mark  indicates the printery is serious about quality, especially repeatability of colour. Unlike PMS with its strictly controlled ink manufacture, CMYK inks and application are relatively uncontrolled and thus exhibit colour variation which may be unacceptable to orienteering.

You also need to be aware that while PMS colours should always be within a narrow tolerance of an internationally accepted  Pantone swatch colour, the best CMYK can achieve is to be within tolerance of a particular quality organisation’s CMYK swatch colours. In other words, switch from one accredited CMYK printery to another and the result could be noticeably different.

Two such digital certifications are from Fogra and Truly Colour (in conjunction with Swiss based UGRA).

Australia CMYK digital (laser)

Since Bushrangers Carnival 2009, Australia has had top flight digital CMYK printing of maps. Similarly to the Swiss development, this came about through research and process experimentation. Reviewing overseas reports earlier this year, it appears we have been ahead of much of the orienteering world in CMYK digital press map production at least until 2012.

Validation of our processes came when 2011’s WRE on Marginata map in Canberra was printed digital CMYK. This was done as the cost of offset printing as normally required was prohibitive. However, despite the print for a rock strewn map being very high for a digital print, it must be noted that feedback from competitors was that it is still unacceptable for such a high level event. This gives some impetus to exploring CMYK offset while awaiting the to see if the advent of ink jet (as opposed to toner based) production digital presses will also bring greater precision.

Two print centres known to produce very high quality digital (laser) print orienteerings maps are;

Specifications and process to enable other digital print centres to achieve the same quality are on the Mapping Resources section of this website. Generally, the model of digital press would need to be ‘full production’ classification and probably will be no more than 3 years old.

Further reading

A further article in the Swiss WOC’12 + OCAD series will be published in the next post.  The topic is LIDAR. The series article on Sprint maps will be published in the March 2013 edition of The Australian Orienteer.

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Comments welcome

Your comments, corrections and own experiences on CMYK map printing are welcome.

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