Haigs Quality Printing Business Booms Using 100% CIP3 Workflow
Friday, May 04, 2001
May 2, 2001 Haig's Quality Printing in Palm Springs, California, was a small commercial print shop, but Haig Atamian suspected that it could be much more. By 1997, it had outgrown the Palm Springs market, so Atamian opened a sales office in Nevada. By 1998, he saw that more of his business was coming from Las Vegas than Palm Springs, so the president and CEO decided to move the entire operation to Las Vegas employees and all. Today, Haig's Quality Printing has about 28 employees and works with variety of clients, ranging from hotel and casino businesses to packaging companies and print brokers nationwide. When Atamian opened the print shop's Las Vegas operation, he began investigating his equipment options. He looked closely at the industry's top brand names, and what he saw in the MAN Roland presses excited him. "I saw Man Roland at Graph Expo 98," he says. "I had purchased an Agfa Galileo platesetter, and in MAN Roland's booth, I saw the Galileo connected to MAN Roland's 23-1/8 x 29-1/4" 300 press via MAN Roland's PECOM ServerNet software. The two machines were talking to each other. That was exactly the kind of workflow I had in mind." He purchased a R300 right then and there. At first, Atamian planned to run the R300 until he could move his older press from Palm Springs to Las Vegas. But in his excitement over MAN Roland's networking technology, he decided to sell his older press and become an all-MAN Roland shop. He purchased a 40" R700 in December, 1999. Both his R300 and his new R700 are fully automated, including automatic plate loading and automatic cylinder and blanket washing. Both run at 15,000 sph. Today, 100% of the workflow at Haig's Quality Printing is CIP3 using MAN Roland's PECOM ServerNet software with Prepress Link. "Our pressmen will not run jobs unless they have CIP3 files," says Atamian. "They are spoiled." Although none of Atamian's pressmen knew how to run CIP3 at first, Atamian was surprised how quickly they learned. "It took awhile to find the right presetting values, but once we played around with them a little, we got it figured out," he says. "It's really not that hard." Now, Haig's Quality Printing is experiencing tremendous make-ready and waste savings, both as a result of CIP3 and the high level of automation of its presses. "We have cut down the time 10 to 15 minutes," says Atamian. "Even on critical jobs, the designers come in, look at their jobs, and sign off. Usually, they don't make color changes, or if they do, it's an overall change, like, Bring up the red 5 percent and start printing.'" The number of waste sheets has also dropped dramatically. Haig's is down to 200 to 300 maximum on both presses. For job re-runs, PECOM ServerNet allows the pressmen to pull values and settings of previous jobs. If all this weren't enough to like, Atamian is amazed by the quietness and speed of the presses. He also likes that he can run them at full-rate speed. "Although most manufacturers claim that their machines can print 15,000 iph, they only run that fast in showrooms," he says. "MAN Roland is different. We are actually producing jobs at very high speeds with 100 percent consistency. You don't find a bad sheet in the whole job." Atamian also finds that his R300 and R700 presses have very little or no downtime as long as they are properly maintained. "MAN Roland's service is impeccable," he says. "If it were up to me, I'd run every job Hexachrome" These are the words of Haig Atamian, president and CEO of Haig's Quality Printing in Las Vegas, NV. Haig's works with variety of clients, ranging from hotel and casino businesses to packaging companies and print brokers nationwide. Haig's has been running Hexachrome for about five years. Atamian started using Hexachrome as an experiment, but once the company was able to proof, match, and print Hexachrome jobs like any other, it became a mainstream process. Today, about 12% to 15% of Haig's jobs are Hexachrome, and the percentage is growing. "Last year, about 12% of our jobs were printed using Hexachrome, and this year, we are forecasting more because we are getting into a lot of packaging," Atamian says. In general, the shop owner sees that his customers are attracted to Hexachrome for its cleaner and broader range of colors, including bright florescents. "Hexachrome increases visibility, as well as quality," he says. "We don't have to simulate files to a CMYK color gamut. We just print them directly out of RGB to get all the details and colors. That is very exciting." Better for Packaging Atamian sees the packaging industry, in particular, going to Hexachrome for its tremendous shelf appeal. When one of his clients, a vitamin distributing and manufacturing company, began printing in Hexachrome, it found retailers began restocking its Hexachrome-printed boxes at a rate much higher than that of its older, non-Hexachrome boxes. "The benefits Hexachrome aren't just hype," says Atamian. "It really works." Haig's prints all of its jobs with stochastic screening. This improves the "pop" of Hexachrome jobs, even beyond that which Hexachrome already produces. "Stochastic is simply a better way of printing," says Atamian, who proofs his Roland 300 and Roland 700 press output using the DuPont Digital Waterproof. "All of our digital proofs and originals are continuous tone, so it is much easier to match color and detail with stochastic screening than with conventional dots." Stochastic screening provides a particular boost to Hexachrome jobs because it avoids the problems associated with screen angles and moir "With four-color process, there are four angles; with Hexachrome, there are six. But with stochastic, there are none at all," says Atamian. "So it not only provides better definition, but it actually simplifies the process of printing." Worth the Cost Hexachrome brings big benefits, but they don't come free. For the average print job, Hexachrome's two extra plates cost more than for four-color process, especially for short runs. But Atamian points out that most of his high-end jobs use a fifth color anyway, whether a spot color or double hit. "We have six-color MAN Roland presses, so even four-color jobs are running through a six-color machine," he says. "For longer-run jobs, Hexachrome does not change the cost that much." Packaging clients are particular beneficiaries of the Hexachrome process. Not only do they have longer runs than commercial jobs, but many use six or more colors; or they use five colors across several different packages in the same jobs. Hexachrome can actually save these clients money. "We have a client that has five PMS colors on its logo, so all of its jobs used to be printed process plus five PMS colors," Atamian explains. "This was the equivalent of a nine-color job, and it took two passes through the press. In Hexachrome, we are able to accomplish the same thing - with even better quality -- in only one pass. Plus, we are able to match the PMS colors exactly. The cost of that job probably dropped 40% to 50%. Not only did the job look better, but the client saved a lot of money." Another benefit of Hexachrome is reduced waste. Color can be matched more quickly and easily using Hexachrome's specially optimized colors than traditional CMYK. "We don't have to fight to get our PMS colors," Atamian says. "They come in right the first time." Atamian also finds that his pressmen have fewer trapping and registration issues. "If you are printing a seven- or eight-color job on a six-color press, you have to run that job through the press twice," he says. "The paper gets wet and heated and out of register. Even when it settles down, it still isn't stable. With Hexachrome, we only put the paper through once." Haig's does not have a press dedicated to Hexachrome. It switches back and forth between Hexachrome and traditional four-color process. In part, this is possible because of the automatic clean-up on the MR 300 and MR 700 presses, as well as the faster set-up of CIP3 - of which Haig's workflow is 100%. "The pressman will not run a job unless they have CIP3 files," says Atamian. "They are spoiled." Getting Used to It Once printers get the process down, Hexachrome may bring significant benefits, but it takes some getting used to. Atamian notes that it takes a lot of experimentation to get to know the process. "There is no book that you can read and know exactly what to do," he says. This is one area in which his relationship with MAN Roland has been invaluable. "They didn't shine us off on Hexachrome. They were right here with us the whole time," Atamian says. "They spent two or three weeks, brought in their best people, and worked with us to be able to move CIP3 files in Hexachrome." Atamian believes that the learning curve has been worth the wait. Especially since he sees the long-term future pointing towards Hexachrome. "The move to Hexachrome is inevitable," he continues. "Anybody in packaging spends thousands of dollars to make sure their packaging looks better than anybody else's, and this is the way to go." He tells the story of a major company that recently told its printers that it would like its jobs to be printed in Hexachrome. None of those printers were ramped up on the process, so they had to go out and learn from scratch. "Of those printers, the smallest had the least amount of business, so it was the most aggressive," Atamian says. "It put more time and money into learning the Hexachrome process, and as a result, it was chosen to be the customer's major printer right away."