Quad/Graphics: Reaching New Dimensions In Color Proofing
Press release from the issuing company
June 2, 2003 -- Since January 2003, Quad Imaging has been producing 100 percent of its color proofs digitally for Quad/Dimensional Imaging (Q/DI), thanks to the in-house development of a new process that, to the best of our knowledge, is the first and only one of its kind in the industry.
"We've found a way to produce Q/DI color proofs digitally, replacing a conventional process that, because it was mechanical and created lots of rework, was time-consuming and costly," says Imaging Manager Kelly Paolo.
With the technology, Q/DI customers are reaping the same time- and cost-saving benefits as our offset and gravure customers, for whom we’ve been pulling digital proofs regularly for the past several years.
Conventionally, the proofing process for lenticular — or three-dimensional — printing would typically take 24 to 36 hours. The process involves outputting film, producing a Matchprint proof and then applying the laminate "lens" that gives the Q/DI proof its 3-D appearance. With digital proofing, however, we’ve cut that time by nearly half, allowing us to be more nimble for customers needing extra time in their schedule.
In addition to tightened turnarounds and cost savings, the digital process also yields better quality proofs. Because there is a lot of dirt involved with producing Matchprints, any imperfection is magnified 10 times in the finished proof. With digital proofs the quality is remarkably better.
The digital divide
The arrival of digital proofing for dimensional printing has been a long time coming, in large part because of the uniqueness of the lenticular printing process.
To create the image-in-motion appearance, Q/DI files are actually interlaced, meaning several separate images are sliced into slivers and then merged together into a single file. When laminated with a patented polymer-coated lens, the pattern of that file creates the illusion of multiple dimensions or motion. Complicating matters, the lenticular process requires a line screen twice as fine as the one we use for our standard magazine and catalog printing.
Up until now, a number of variables prevented Q/DI from pinpointing the resolution needed for accurately producing interlaced files on our digital proofing equipment. Chief among them was paper shrinkage. Too much paper shrinkage ultimately distorts the interlaced image and renders the laminate an ineffective lens.
Testing paper stocks, temperature settings and speeds, we eventually were able to identify the optimal settings for pulling Q/DI digital proofs. Thanks to their efforts, today we can produce accurate representations of our clients’ final 3-D product faster and more efficiently.
The long and short of lenticular
Lenticular printing is an offset printing process that produces a three-dimensional or image-in-motion appearance on a printed surface. Quad/Dimensional Imaging (Q/DI) uses lenticular technology to achieve extraordinary results on a variety of products, including:
When on press, our inline optical viewing equipment ensures accurate color registration on the project’s interlaced (or merged) files. We then wind the uncut printed web of paper back into a roll and feed it into our laminator. There, we marry the substrate with a patented polymer-coated lens to create multiple dimensions or motion. The product is then finished and delivered.
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