It’s official: Xerox has announced its 2020 Color of the Year, and it’s leaving plenty of people scratching their heads. Claiming to have drawn inspiration from cellophane and fishbowls, the innovator that delivered the first photocopier to offices in the 1950s is once again turning the world of printing on its head.
Despite what Xerox insists, clear may not be a color in the truest sense of the world. It still has tremendous implications in the world of printing. It also represents one of Xerox’s most significant innovations in the realm of ink. Read on to discover why Xerox (and anyone who knows about printing inks) is so excited about this offering. To be clear, it’s pretty great.
Xerox Color of the Year: Let’s Make It Clear!
No, it’s not a joke. Xerox has selected “clear” as its 2020 Color of the Year. They’re already on record saying that they don’t expect everybody to agree, and that’s okay because what clear ink does for printed materials is amazing.
The creation of “clear” ink is just the latest in a whirlwind of experimental inks currently sweeping through the printing industry. New ways to think about and apply color have been steadily gaining ground, resulting in innovations like metallic inks and exceptional finishes that don’t need specialty hardware to apply. Xerox’s Color of the Year is significant because it represents something of a culmination of quiet advancements that occurred in the printing industry over the last two years.
This massive redefinition of ink is driven by the fact that it’s getting easier to manufacture powerful printing technology cost-effectively. As a result, the technology to break the limitations imposed by CMYK has finally reached a point where it’s not just possible but practical for the entire printing market. That’s excellent news since CMYK represents one of the most limited palettes out there. (Not sure what that means? Brush up on what CMYK is and why it matters in printing). It also means that regular businesses will soon be able to access the same printing power as major production corporations.
Clear ink isn’t just a new, quirky feature that Xerox has created as a selling point. It represents a shift in the printing industry, and that’s huge.
There Are Clearly Unique Properties
Clear has a long history of being used in art because of the way it changes the properties of color. The human eye sees color according to the way that light is refracted on it. From glazes to glass, clear is just one of the many ways in which artists have manipulated the way light refracts on a color. Specifically, clear:
● Tends to deepen colors and makes them more vibrant. That’s how shells and rocks on the beach look darker and bolder under the water than when they’re dry.
● Provides color depth. Clear glazes trick the eye into seeing depth on flat surfaces.
● Brings out textures. By affecting how much light is absorbed by the pigment, clear glazes can help the eye see more texture on a picture.
These properties have been well-known in art for a very long time. Masters like Leonardo Da Vinci and Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun used clear glazes to enhance the visual appeal of their works.
The Benefits of Clear in Printing
Technically, clear ink falls into the realm of varnishes and finishes. While these have been around for a while, they’ve been exceedingly difficult to access. Unlike ink, finishing options have required an entire additional module within a printer. It’s something that collateral goes through after it’s been printed – for most of the industry’s history, only production printers have been able to deliver such options.
That’s not true with “clear ink.” Rather than requiring specialized hardware, it’s applied inline. That means the same part of the digital printer which applied the original ink can now use this clear ink. With clear ink, printers can:
● Emphasize details. Clear finishes specific colors or parts of a printed item pop.
● Focus attention. It’s easier to draw attention to important details.
● Improve customization. It will help materials stand out from others.
● Expand beyond CMYK. Clear finishes are a neat trick that allows the human eye to see colors that the printer itself didn’t print.
● Protect materials. A clear varnish provides a layer of protection to prevent fading, water damage, or wear.
Ready for Clear? It’s the 2020 Color of the Year
The 2020 Xerox Color of the Year is exciting, and not just because it’s so unusual itself. The introduction of clear inks into the mainstream printing market is a sign that printing technology has reached an unparalleled level of sophistication. Clear inks will first roll out on the iGen 5 Press and the Iridesse but will soon be available on their entry-level production printers. New options for creativity and design will soon be available for all.
Ready for the next generation of printing power? Contact XMC to discover the best options for your office.