The Lowdown on Hi-Fi Color
Is it time to take another look at Hi-Fi printing? Hi-Fi is any printing technology that delivers a higher-quality product than the normal four-color process. This is usually done with custom ink applications of five, six, seven or even eight-color Hi-Fi ink sets that deliver a wider range of colors than the standard CYMK process. Hi-Fi breaks the color barrier and achieves far superior brightness levels.
Ten years ago it was touted as the next great innovation in high-quality printing. The flexography market has done well with it for the packaging industry, but it somewhat fizzled in the publishing industry. However, a devoted group of book publishers have kept it alive and use it with great success.
The best-known and most widely used commercial Hi-Fi system is Pantone's Hexachrome—a six-color process that includes a custom ink set, design capabilities, separations, proofing and Pantone Color Guides. The ink set has enhanced versions of black, cyan, yellow and magenta with added fluorescence that makes them brighter. It also uses a vivid orange and green that greatly expands the printable color saturation and range.
While Hexachrome uses only six colors, it provides more flexibility and a broader color gamut than other Hi-Fi models utilizing seven or even eight colors due to the purity of the Hexachrome primary inks. Ninety percent of the solid Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors can be simulated with Hexachrome. That is almost double the number that can be achieved with conventional four-color process printing.
Who Uses Hi-Fi?
Hi-Fi printing is used by book publishers who want extremely vibrant color. It has been very successful with children's books and cookbooks. Janet Hill, design manager at elementary educational publisher Pearson Scott Foresman, has been using Hexachrome for six years, and combines it with foil stamping and embossing on covers.