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EskoArtwork Concentric Screening helps save ink, improves print quality

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Press release from the issuing company

Gent, Belgium - EskoArtwork, The Tulsa World, one of the nation's largest independent, family-owned newspapers in the United States reports significantly improved print quality while using 37% less ink with the help of its Esko Concentric Screening and Alwan's CMYK Optimizer.

Tulsa's only daily newspaper, The Tulsa World, was first published in 1905, and has been solely owned by the Lorton family since 1917. It was the first newspaper in North America to install the state-of-the-art shaftless Wifag 370 web presses, capable of churning out 70,000 copies an hour on 48-inch-wide paper. It also was the first major newspaper to switch to digital photography. The Tulsa World updated its computer software to DTI and InDesign systems two and a half years ago.

Two years ago, The Tulsa World decided to replace its Enfocus PitStop preflighting tools with the EskoArtwork Odystar production workflow, sending PostScript files directly to an AlfaQuest RIP and platesetter. "We created a PDF workflow using Odystar as our workflow manager.  All of our news pages are produced through the workflow, monitored by our technical staff. It's as close to a lights out operation as we think possible," says Bob Gutridge, Production Manager. "We can receive files from many sources, such as ftp, manual delivery, or photo services. We like that we can rename files and that Odystar can send an email message if there's an error. With Odystar, we can have a single workflow and route a file based on multiple parameters. There's lots of flexibility and we can create any kind of workflow. We can't imagine putting a paper together without it."

"In a sense, we stumbled into Concentric Screening," recalls Jeremy Crockett, Support Specialist. "I had a discussion with our EskoArtwork rep, who suggested that we might be interested in a screening technology that had been very successful for commercial printers. He explained the ink benefits and cost savings, but I reminded him that I was the IT guy. Anything we do involves all of us: the tech manager, prepress, pressroom, and IT. I brought him in to see Bob and our team, and it rolled from there. The ink savings numbers were enough, alone, to look into it."

Quality was even more important than costs savings when they saw the first test run. The Tulsa World felt that stochastic screening produced a lack of three-quarter tones inherent in a random dot. They believed that because Concentric Screening is an AM dot, it preserved those three-quarter tones. Their shadows were retaining detail. It almost looked like a magazine on newsprint. They liked the idea that they could save money and concurrently enjoy exceptional print quality.

"EskoArtwork told us what concentric screening would do, but I had my doubts. However, everything they said was right. The biggest surprise was when we backed off the total ink coverage on photos more than we ever thought. We were running 220-240%, but now we're running 180% and color photos at 140%. Over the past 90 days with dedicated staff, our performance has been .1% ink volume to newsprint consumed. It has been very consistent. If you stick to science, it is very solid," explains Gary Gregg, Press Operations Manager. "The setoff has been reduced significantly, and we don't get many ruboff complaints any more. Newsprint is one of the hardest things to dry. If you print on a sheetfed press with glossy paper, ink doesn't spread much. However, on traditional newsprint with a 100lpi screen, you can expect an 18-20% dot gain with overabundance of ink, causing a ruboff. If you run your finger over a photo, it will leave a residue. With concentric screening, there's very little."

Ironically, while The Tulsa World is applying a much thinner layer of ink, the product looks denser than before.  It has also allowed them to set up a 'total ink limit' value of 180 (SNAP calls for 240 as a standard).  While their photos rarely exceed 150, they get deep, rich shadows. What used to be a 100 lpi. round dot is now printed at 163 lpi Concentric Screening, with no patterning. "The day we went live with Concentric Screening, there was a huge difference. We run a lot of furniture and jewelry ads. The diamonds are crisp and amazing. There are also three major college football teams in Oklahoma, and their colors, scarlet, orange, and bluish purple had always been difficult to match. Not any more," notes David Bridges, prepress manager. "Our publisher sees the sharpness and color, and we have seen a significant improvement in chroma. In fact, when we originally tested a graduated 100 lpi cyan round dot to 163 lpi Concentric Screening, cyan looks purer to the eye. Blues are bluer, greens are greener, and all primary colors look crisper and clearer. And we're using standard litho inks."

"The bottom line for us is that our combined Esko and Alwan system has allowed us reduce the cost of the inks we use by 37% compared to last year. There are two parts to this solution. The gray component replacement (GCR) of Alwan Ink Optimizer helps to save ink, while the unique mechanics of Concentric Screening requires less ink but delivers vibrant results," comments Gutridge. "Concentric lessens the overall volume while GCR reallocates more expensive CMY into black ink savings. Coupling the concentric dot with Alwan CMYK Optimizer allows us to apply global unsharp masking to our PDF pages, giving us a much crisper image," adds Gutridge. "Our dedicated group makes platemaking and the press run perfectly, so it continues to work well." You would think, with the variables of violet technology and an 18% dot spread on newsprint, coupled with a 163 line concentric screen that we would be chasing press sync all over the place.  We hold steady to the same press sync curve numbers week after week."

"I like that EskoArtwork has a modular approach to problem solving. We can methodically add what we need--for example, Concentric Screening," concludes Gutridge. "I like their flexibility and honesty. We were looking for a GCR solution and they were happy to recommend one of their partners, Alwan. All in all, our experience with Odystar and Concentric Screening has been all we expected it to be and more. We love the new look of our product. You couldn't wrestle it away from my pressmen now."




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