The 5 steps a digital printer must take to get ISO 12647-2 compliance

There are just five steps to ISO 12647-2 compliance heaven, starting with making sure you have a solid understanding of ISO 12647-2*.

Step one

Get a hold of the document and read it, yes read it all 32 pages of it. Putting it next to the press is a nice idea but it won’t do you much good, so reading is your only realistic option.

Step two

The second step is to take an inventory of your processes and to measure typical jobs in order to establish average colourimetric values for the work you are producing at the moment. Coverage should be between 300 and 350%, depending on the paper type. And make sure you use the consistent grey balance in all testing as well as the same substrate, selected from the eight paper types listed in ISO 12647-2 on pages seven and eight, ideally the one that works best with your digital press. Compare the measured values with the values in the ISO document and you will have a benchmark of sorts. The gap between the two sets of values is an indicator of how much work needs to be done if you are to achieve ISO 12647-2 compliance.

Step three

Once you have established what colour values you are printing you have to work out why the values are as they are, in order to figure out how you can improve the numbers. This third step is extremely important and the answer to the question of why the colours print as they do will be specific to your printing operation, and perhaps even to your presses. For instance, you may find that you cannot match the values for the Magenta, no matter how hard you try. In such a situation it’s best to get in touch with the digital press manufacturer to ask them how it can be fixed.

Step four

Understanding the underlying cause for colour differences between what you produce and what ISO 12647-2 requires, will form the bulk of your compliance work. You may be able to answer the question on your own or by working with your operators. It might be that you need external specialist advice, or to work with your press manufacturers to do a complete overhaul of your workflow.

This will depend on the extent of your operations and the scope of the compliance project. For instance, you may have a single digital press and Digital Front End (DFE) or you might have multiple engines and DFEs, plus a small herd of offset presses. In the latter case, achieving common colour appearance based on ISO 12647-2 targets will be a major project so you should ensure that it is properly resourced in terms of time and money.

Step five

The fifth step is inevitably testing your set up and remeasuring your output. Ideally, you should be doing this throughout the course of your compliance project. With every change you make, measure a test form and keep track of the data over time. The last part of the project is to print your sample test form in a live production situation, along with a customer’s job even if the customer doesn’t care about ISO 12647-2 compliance.


The work you have done for each of these five steps will have uncovered all sorts of interesting quirks in your workflow. Ideally, you will have resolved them and eliminated inefficiencies in the process. You will have identified problems in PDF processing, colour data transforms, most likely associated with incorrect ICC profiles. All of these things and many more will have undermined your production efficiency, so sorting them out means that you have improved capacity as well as performance.

Take some time to consider how you will communicate your production improvements to customers. Above all, consider how best to monetise jobs that benefit from ISO 12647-2 compliance.

Jobs with brand colours and that are produced using multiple processes are obvious candidates. Clients who want consistent output across geographies also create opportunities for printers, especially if they are prepared to pay for peace of mind. And making money from your services is ultimately what compliance to ISO 12647-2 is all about.

For more information on this specialist, subject contact Ricoh directly to advise on your first steps into gaining compliance. Connect and contact us on LinkedIn, Twitter or call 08457 44 55 65.

You can find the other posts in this series below:

Laurel Brunner

Laurel has been in the graphic arts industry for over 30 years. She works with several ISO working groups and is the convenor of ISO’s Working Group 11. She is also a Visiting Professor at Shenzen Technical University in China and one of a small cohort of Women of Distinction selected by US publishers Output Links.