T172: Application of the Glossmeter

The importance of measuring gloss is realized very quickly when the appearance of a production job is suddenly different than expected or does not match a previous run. What can you do at this point? Quickly explain to your customer that the look of the newly printed piece is far superior to the previous run or their expectations? Start blaming the gloss suppliers, pressmen, press, coater, press speed, paper or stock? No, you simply explain to your customer that you are going to get a glossmeter so this will not happen again.

These devices are indispensable quality control tools that work similarly to a densitometer. A glossmeter is simply placed over the area in question and activated by pressing a small button to engage the lamp. This functionality is exactly the same as that of a densitometer. This, technically speaking, is where the similarity ends. A densitometer is designed to eliminate the gloss in its interpretation of ink density. It accomplishes this by nature of its optical geometry. The standard optical geometry of a graphic arts densitometer is 45°. If you view something at a 45° angle the gloss influence is minimized or, in some cases, eliminated. Therefore, to read gloss, new standards for optical geometry help maximize the gloss influence so a glossmeter can interpret a gloss value and determine if a sample is deviating from a norm with respect to its gloss.

A printer in the commercial printing or packaging market must read gloss because it has a profound impact on the appearance of a printed product. Your colors can be perfect. Ink densities can be exact. The stock and ink can be the same from run to run. However, if the gloss level is inconsistent the appearance will be drastically effected.

Also, how many times has a customer or salesman brought in a sample of a previously run job for you to bid? You may be asked to simply match the gloss appearance of a similar job or match the exact job that was run elsewhere. How do you handle this? Standard viewing conditions in a viewing booth are designed to match color, not determine gloss level. In a viewing booth the angle of view is supposed to be consistent, but due to the fact that people are of different heights this angle of view is always different. Every angle at which you view the sample will produce different effects. There is a better way. Use a glossmeter to monitor the gloss level so you can communicate an exact gloss value number to your suppliers, pressmen, and customers.

The industrialized nations of the world have decided to standardize the measurement of gloss. Glossmeters that comply with these standards are readily available to everyone in the industry. The most popular optical geometry is 60°. The QIP GlossMate 60° is ideal for the graphic arts. This optical geometry provides the user with a broad range of gloss level measurement possibilities. Graphic art coating applications, from dull to bright, fall within the parameters of a QIP GlossMate 60°. This has been the instrument of choice for most printers.

However, if your customer requests varying gloss levels from time to time it is best to use an instrument with a three angle optical geometry. The best optical geometry for very high gloss (above a number 90) is 25° while the best optical geometry for very low gloss (below a number 40) is 85°. The QIP GlossMaster 25° 60° 85° has all three optical geometries built in. This is the answer to your most exacting gloss measurement applications. All QIP glossmeters can be attached to a computer for downloading data into any SPC system.

Gloss is measured in all industries where color and appearance are critical. The paint, plastics, ceramics, paper, textiles, and coating industries all use glossmeters each and every day. Varying optical geometries that are optimized for each industrial segment allow for exact gloss value measurement.

Printers today are investing in glossmeters to provide their customers with the most consistent printed products possible. The use of a glossmeter will minimize customer quality complaints with respect to appearance, minimize make readies, improve productivity, make reruns a snap, and provide the opportunity to improve profits through better communication. A glossmeter investment will be justified the very first time you use it.

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