The Meaning of Six Color Printing

On Tuesday, we talked about picking the right Pantone color for print. In that post, I mentioned that we’d discuss 6 color printing in another post. Well, that’s this post. Today we’ll discuss the finer points of six-color printing, including:

  • What 6 color printing is.
  • What it’s used for.

So without further ado, let’s get into our topic, starting with the basics.

What is Hexachrome?

Put at its simplest, hexachrome involves using a 6 color printer to print things. But what is a 6 color printer? Well, it’s one of these:

Hexachrome Printing

That’s specifically a 6-color printer manufactured by DURST, but many different manufacturers exist.

You’re probably wondering how 6 color printing works. Well, here’s how:

In addition to the four colors offered by a traditional CMYK printer, 6 color printers can come in one of two main forms: usually it will be a CMYKOG (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Orange, Green – also known as Hexachrome) or it will be CcMmYK printer, with the lowercased letters used to stand for lightened shades of Cyan and Magenta, specifically. This allows it to print more colors than a traditional four-color printer can.

What's the meaning of CMYK?

Where a CMYK printer can only print seven colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black, plus red, green and blue from layering the CMY), a six color printer can print much more, especially if it is configured as CMYKOG – with CMYKOG, a 6 color printer can print the original six colors listed, plus a wide variety of others because it has two more base colors to mix with.

So what is six color printing used for?

Six color printing can generally be used for almost anything that requires either more color depth than traditional CMYK printing can provide, or requires the use of certain specific spot colors as designated by the person getting the printing done. Traditionally, it is used in inkjet printers, but it can also be used for things like screen-printing, with traditional inks standing in for the CMYK part of the six-color process.

We hope this post has given you a little more information about the meaning and uses of 6 color printing. If you’ve got questions, feel free to leave a comment or reach out on Twitter and Facebook.


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