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How Hexachrome Color Can Help Enhance Printer Ink

2010-06-28

Hexachrome color was a printing color process originally created by Adobe to enhance the production of colors which came from printer ink cartridges. Typically, cartridges use what is known as a CMYK model to print color images, each letter standing for a color. C is cyan, M is magenta, Y is yellow and K stands for "key" which is actually black. These four colors allow for any color in the spectrum to be printed, but can often result in harsh color transitions, especially when printing low-speed high-quality images. As a result, the hexachrome or "six-color" process was created.

Originally, this process was known as CMYKOG, as it added the colors orange and green to the original lineup. This allowed for a gentler color gradient, and produced better results when images were printed at high DPI and on high quality, bright white paper. Sadly, the hexachrome process was discontinued in 2008, and though the details of the process are not a secret, they are proprietary and cannot be used without permission. It is possible to obtain permission and a license to use the technology, but it is often not worth the time or effort to do so.

Fortunately, printer ink cartridges have continued to evolve, as has the printer color procedure. A new technology, known as CcMmYK has been developed, which uses washed-out shades of cyan and magenta - noted as the lower-case "c" and "m" - to produce colors which are truer to life and do not result in the distinct color banding that appears when using standard CMYK systems. This is often not noticeable with lighter colors such as yellow, but if a light magenta or cyan image was produced, using ordinary CMYK technology, the results would be obvious. In order to "lighten" the image, a printer ink cartridge simply lessens the number of dots placed in a certain area - it can do nothing to lighten the ink itself. When this is done with cyan or magenta, the results stand out, and the definition between the dots and the blank white page are very obvious. The CcMmYK model allows for a far lighter shade of cyan and magenta to be applied where necessary, fooling the eye into thinking that a deeper gradient of color exists.

These types of cartridges will be more expensive than their CMYK counterparts, but just as with hexachrome color technology, can result in far more vibrant and clean-looking pictures. Though these cartridges are not the right choice for every business, one that relies on high-quality imaging would do well to consider the switch to the CcMmYK option, as it will allow for a far greater range of print color options.

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