Reporter: Boris Wong
X-Rite Headquarters is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. The surroundings is green and peaceful. The office and factory are in the same building. It is clean and big with 350,000 square feet. I spent two days visiting the headquarters last month (June 2018). The first day was a quick tour in the factory hosted by Mr. Roger Offringa, the Facilities Manager. On the second day I did the interview with Mr. Raymond Cheydleur, the Product Portfolio Manager. He is also a member of ICC , ISO and chairman of CGATS.
X-Rite總部位於美國密歇根州大急流城，四周草綠及寧靜。辦公室及工廠在同一建築裡，地方整潔及面積相當大有三十五萬平方英尺。我上個月花兩天時間探訪了總部(2018年6月)，第一天是導賞團，由這裡的設施經理Roger Offringa先生帶領，而第二天是訪問，由產品組合經理Raymond Cheydleur先生解答問題，他也是ICC、ISO委員及CGATS主席。
In the factory tour, Roger showed us the production, machine shop, Munsell Color and the advanced project, TAC. The factory had 3 shifts in the past but now 2 shifts. Part of the reason is automation. They have robots to assemble parts such as the filter wheel for the spectrophotometer. But they still rely a lot on labors to do manual work. NetProfiler products are also done here. The machine shop has a lot of tooling machines to produce various components for the measuring instruments. Some of the components for the instruments come from outsource, e.g. ICB from an Asian supplier. The Munsell Color Laboratory have well-known products such as the ColorChecker, the Munsell Color Tree and FM100. The ColorChecker chips are made here in the laboratory while the assembly is done outside Boston. At the end of the tour, we saw the most advanced systems, TAC Ecosystem. It includes TAC, VLB and Pantora. TAC and Pantora were launched in 2016 while VLB was just launched last year. TAC is abbreviation of Total Appearance Capture, a single instrument which can capture not just color but also texture, gloss, translucency, transparency and other surface appearance characteristics of any flat material. The measurement spot is 130 mm while material thickness can be up to about 50 mm (just my observation). VLB means Virtual Light Booth which let us visualize the finished product digitally while the physical material can be put in the booth so we can compare them at the same time. Pantora is the desktop applications that process the captured images and enables sharing the digital files with CAD or PLM  applications. Information about TAC Ecosystem is available on the official website.
參觀工廠方面，Roger向我們介紹了他們的產品製造工場、機械房、Munsell Color工場以及一項先進項目—TAC。製造工場以前是三更進行生產，現在是兩更。部分原因是製造自動化，這裡有部分組裝例如測量儀器的濾鏡輪是由機械人處理的，但工場工作仍然很依賴人手，NetProfiler產品也是這裡製造。機械房有很多零部件製造機器，提供零部件給測量儀器，當然有部分是由供應商提供的，例如ICB來自一位亞洲供應商。Munsell Color工場負責顏色標準項目，例如著名的ColorChecker、Munsell Color Tree及FM100等。ColorCheck色塊在這裡製造而組裝在波士頓附近。參觀最後部分是TAC生態系統，它由TAC、VLB及Pantora組成。TAC及Pantora在2016年推出，而VLB在去年剛剛推出。TAC的全名是Total Appearance Capture，此設備不單只可以測量任何平面物料的表面色彩，還可以測量紋理、光澤、半透明、透明度及其它表面視覺特徵。測量孔(直徑)有130毫米而物料厚度可達約50毫米(只是我的觀察)。VLB意思指Virtual Light Booth，它可以數碼形式展示完成產品的模樣，實體物料可同時放燈箱裡，用戶可即時比較及檢視效果。Pantora是桌面應用軟件，它處理拍攝後影像及讓我們可以和其它應用程式(例如CAD及PLM)分享文件。有關TAC生態系統的資料可在官方網站找到。
I did the interview with Mr. Raymond Cheydleur in the headquarters on the second day and following is our conversation. R stands for Raymond while B stands for the reporter.
B: Can you tell me a brief history about X-Rite?
R: We started with a product that allowed easy marking of X-Ray information called X-Ray Marking tape. A natural add-on product was silver recovery from films. The original company was not called X-Rite but we wanted our customers to easily identify us so we changed company name to X-Rite later. Then we developed densitometers for X-Ray films and photography. Later we expanded our products to cover densitometers and spectrophotometers for the graphic arts industry in the 80s and 90s. In 2000, we merged together with GretagMacbeth and Pantone to expand our color business. Now we have a broad range of products to cover many industries. We have sales offices around the world and truly a global company.
R: 我們以X-Ray Marking Tape發明展開了事業，這個產品讓用戶可以很容易刻錄X-Ray信息，隨後產品有回收菲林銀元素的設備。原本公司名稱不是X-Rite，因為我們希望顧客容易識別我們公司，其後就改成了現在的名稱。業務繼續發展，之後我們製造與X光及攝影有關的密度測量儀器，在80及90年代我們的製造擴充至印刷業使用的密度測量儀及分光儀。在2000年，我們與GretagMacbeth及Pantone公司合併，令我們的色彩事業更上一層樓。現在我們的產品涵蓋了很多工業，同時我們的銷售網絡分布世界各地，成為一間全球公司。
B: What are the X-Rite best-selling products in the printing industry?
R: The two products that are most identified by the industry are i1 and eXact. In the software side, ink formulation is one of them. PantoneLive and press room tools like ColorCert are also well known for customers who do color control. i1Profiler is also popular as many customers use it to build profiles which may be installed in the desktop applications or RIP (workflow system) for color management.
R: i1及eXact是最暢銷的兩個產品，而軟件方面是ink formulation，PantoneLive及應用於印刷車間的工具例如ColorCert也是很多需要品質控制的顧客歡迎的。i1Profiler是非常多用戶使用的色彩管理工具，幫助我們建立色彩特徵文件從而應用軟件或印前系統可以執行色彩管理。
B: In the past, X-Rite 530 and SpectroEye were popular. What are they now?
R: At the time we acquired GretagMacbeth, head-to-head X-Rite 530 and SpectroEye were competitors. We haven’t made them for 5 or 6 years but we still provide maintenance service to both. eXact is the replacement for them since the new model supports M1 and at the user stand point it is no good for customers to buy a device which does not support the new standard in the transition period.
B: 以往X-Rite 530及SpectroEye有很多用戶，它們現在情況怎樣？
R: 在收購GretagMacbeth時期，X-Rite 530及SpectroEye是互相競爭對手。目前我們已經有五至六年時間沒有製造它們，但我們仍然為它們提供維護保養服務。eXact是它們的後繼產品及支持M1，在用戶角度，新買回來的設備應該可以在過渡時期支持新標準。
B: Can you briefly introduce the measurement modes and tell us when we shall use it?
R: If the substrate does not have OBA (optical brightening agent), measurement with either M0, M1 or M2 will give similar result. M0 is the traditional illuminant A with little UV while M1 complies with D50 so measurement gives better correlation to our visual response when the substrate contains substantial amount of OBA. Hence we shall use M1 while we don’t recommend to use M0 unless historical reason. M2 is measurement with UV-cut filter to prevent UV that excites substrate when taking measurement while M3 is measurement with polarizing filter to deal with wet ink in order to predict ink density when it is dry.
R: 如果基材沒有OBA (光學增白劑)，測量模式M0、M1或M2都會給予相似的結果。M0採用傳統A光源而它的UV含量不多，至於M1是模擬D50光源，當基材含有相當的OBA，此模式的測量結果與我們的視覺會比較一致。除非歷史原因，我們應該採用M1模式而不要使用M0模式。M2模式有UV過濾來避免測量時候光線有UV而刺激基材，M3模式有偏振濾鏡，可預測油墨乾固後的密度。
B: How shall we do color control (measurement) for prints with overprint varnish or lamination?
R: It depends on what kind of finish it is. If the finish has texture or surface sparkle, M3 may be the choice that shall provide more consistent measurement. However, the downside in ISO perspective, it is designed for densitometry instead of colorimetry. It does not give you an accurate representation of the actual color. If the finish is visually consistent in any viewing angle, we shall typically use M1 and do it after finish. On the other hand, we may also do measurement before finish since the press operator can do process control in the printing stage. Then we shall also have process control for the finish to predict how much it affects the final printed product.
B: How shall we do color control for spot colors of special inks like neon and metallic inks?
R: For neon inks, we shall use M1 (with Part 1 conformance) to do measurement. It is tricky for metallic inks as it may have surface characteristics where the traditional handheld device with 0/45 or 45/0 geometry is not suitable. Then the sphere spectrophotometer shall be used to take both specular-included and specular-excluded measurements.
R: 對於螢光油墨，我們可以採用M1(兼容Part 1)模式測量。金屬油墨方面比較複雜，有些金屬油墨有表面特質而傳統0/45或45/0架構的分光儀不足夠提供準確的測量，這時候採用積分球儀器來獲得包括鏡面反射及排除鏡面反射的測量是比較適合的。
B: What does XGRA mean?
R: XGRA means X-Rite Graphic Arts Standard where traceability, calibration and validation of instruments are based on the same reference standard and metrology. It maintains traceability to the American National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It is also compatible with ISO 13655.
R: XGRA即是X-Rite Graphic Arts Standard，X-Rite印藝標準，此標準之下所有儀器的可追溯性、校準及驗證方法都會採用同一個目標及度量衡。它的可追溯性是根據美國國家標準及技術局(NIST)，同時它支持ISO 13655標準。
B: What are the benefits to the users?
R: Instruments with XGRA will have better agreement in measurement. Customers enjoy high quality data exchange between different instruments. We shall notice that different models have different tolerances. If a tighter tolerance is required, we shall choose a device with tight tolerance. For example, eXact has tighter tolerance over i1. Some models have same tolerance like eXact and Intellitrax.
B: How can we identify if the spectrophotometer’s measurement accurate or not?
R: Some customers reflected that their devices (same model) did not agree each other. One findings we discovered that the device settings were not the same. That’s the problem. Another findings was that the device was contaminated, the white tile or the optics was dirty. We shall clean it properly and regularly. We shall read the maintenance page in the user guide or find a suitable technician who knows how to clean it.
First choice of device calibration and validation, we highly encourage our customers to add NetProfiler in their process control to maintain high accuracy of their devices. NetProfiler is suitable for a number of devices, e.g. eXact, i1, SpectroEye, Intellitrax, etc. It contains physical color tiles and software to maintain your devices in agreement and high accuracy. For more information, go to our official website. Second choice that may be an option too if following attentions are noticed. Users can also buy some standard color tiles to verify accuracy or agreement of their devices. However, users shall be careful to choose the standard color tiles because some of them are ceramic, some are steel, some are paper or other. Some with or without fluorescence or OBA. They have different purposes. The standard color tile shall have a small target spot so your device shall measure the same spot every time. If the tile is small, notice if your device is level during measurement.
B: What support does X-Rite offer to the customers?
R: It depends on location of the customer. We have service centers in some regions so in these regions we can offer direct services. Our support options include repair, certification, warranty and service contracts. We also offer a variety of trainings, webinars, seminars to our customers and the public. Our official website also has a lot of information including user guides, white papers and articles.
B: I finished all my questions. I really appreciate your help and information!
R: You’re very welcome!
 ICC is abbreviation of International Color Consortium. Its official website is www.color.org
 ICC全名是International Color Consortium，其官網是www.color.org
 CGATS is abbreviation of Committee for Graphic Arts Technologies Standards. The committee serves national standards development, facilitates information exchange, coordinates standards activities and helps international standards development.
 CGATS全名是Committee for Graphic Arts Technologies Standards，該組織專責美國印藝標準的發展，促進活動及資訊交流，以及幫助國際標準發展。
 CAD is abbreviation of computer-aided design, a software application or system for product design and engineering.
 CAD全名是computer-aided design，是產品設計及工程的應用程式或系統。
 PLM is abbreviation of product lifecycle management, the process or system that manages the entire lifecycle of a product from inception, through engineering design and manufacture, to service and disposal of manufactured products. This definition comes from Wikipedia.
 PLM全名是product lifecycle management產品生命週期管理，它覆蓋了從產品誕生到消亡的產品生命週期全程的、開放的、互操作的一整套應用方案。此定義來自維基百科中文版。
 OBA is a common additive in paper manufacturing as it will absorb the invisible UV content from sunlight or illuminant and emit visible blue light that makes paper look whiter and brighter.