Colourful future for UWE in EU print project

Issue date: 14 December 2011


The University of the West of England's Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) has been named as a partner in a major European network to research the future direction of colour printing. Potential innovations include exploration of the possibilities of using more than the conventional four colours of cyan, magenta, yellow and black to create multi-channel printers.

The network will also address the need for more research, training, and innovation in the European printing industry. Thanks to EU project funding of about 2.16m euros, a new generation of researchers will benefit from the experience of leading researchers in colour printing, and be trained to lead future research and development in this traditional manufacturing sector.

One major advance in colour printing technology is spectral colour capture modelling and printing, a process by which the visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum are divided at intervals of 10 nanometres. Spectral colour reproduction aims to reproduce the spectral reflectance of the original document or scene, rather than its colour alone. This has a major advantage over conventional colour reproduction in that it is independent of the conditions under which it is viewed, in particular levels of illumination. With such new technologies, images could contain up to 31 colour channels.

These systems have demonstrated their usefulness in various application fields such as cultural heritage and industrial machine vision. However, in order for spectral colour reproduction to offer real cost-effective and high quality alternatives to today's colour reproduction technologies, several research challenges need to be solved and this research project will constitute a significant step forward.

UWE Bristol is one of five main partners, along with researchers from Norway, Germany, Sweden and France. The network combines academic institutions, research institutes, and private sector companies (IKEA, National Gallery, OCE), covering an entire value chain from research to end users of new technology.

Dr Carinna Parraman, who is leading the project at the CFPR, UWE Bristol, said, “We are delighted to be continuing our research with the Norwegian Colour Research Laboratory. It extends our existing collaboration from a previous EU Marie Curie funded project, which was hosted by the CFPR – CREATE: colour research for European advanced technology employment.

“We are seeking to appoint an early stage researcher to study the application of multi-channel printing in fine art, and to create a range of printed samples that address and demonstrate the different requirements of the fine art user.”

The researcher will be seconded to The Scientific Department at The National Gallery London, which is one of the partners in this European project. Joseph Padfield, Conservation Scientist at The National Gallery said, "The Scientific Department of the National Gallery has been studying the accurate measurement of colour since the department was formed in 1934. Originally this work was dedicated to the documentation and examination of the materials used to create the paintings in the collection, but in more recent years it has developed to include the accurate reproduction of images. An example of which can be seen in the Print on Demand service provided by the National Gallery. We are very excited to contribute to this EU Marie Curie funded project, seeing how the latest developments in colour printing can contribute to the documentation and presentation of our great collection of Western European paintings."

CFPR research staff at UWE Bristol are running a training event in January 2014 on novel printing techniques that explore where art meets science in fine art printing. Topics will range from image capture, colour printing, inks, paper and canvas, conservation and preservation.

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