Alexandria, VA, August 12, 2005. The International Digital Enterprise Alliance (IDEAlliance) today announced that the GRACoL (General Requirements and Applications for Commercial Offset Lithography) Committee has completed its sixth and final press run of 2005 in Parsippany, NJ at the L. P. Thebault Company. This press run confirmed the new GRACoL calibration and process control methods that enable printers to accurately replicate the specified appearance on any press or proofing system and constitutes the final dataset that will contribute to the new GRACoL 7 Specification. The run also extended the on-press research being conducted as part of the GRACoL effort.
Throughout 2004 and 2005, the GRACoL Committee of IDEAlliance has conducted a series of press runs with two goals in mind. First is to develop an unambiguous description of how good commercial printing "appears" to the eye, on a Number 1 sheet. The heart of this "print appearance" specification will be a new, visually acceptable characterization data set to replace DTR004. The second goal of these test runs is to develop some relatively simple calibration and process control methods and aim points that will help printers accurately replicate the specified appearance on any press or proofing system. The final data from the press runs in 2004 - 2005 will form a body of work to be published as the GRACoL 7 Specification, including working guidelines for consistent, high-quality commercial color printing. This comprehensive effort to simplify and improve the consistency and quality of commercial color printing will be published in late 2005.
According to Gerry Gerlach, Co-chair of the GRACoL Committee, "In the GRACoL press runs, we have broken from tradition by focusing on colorimetric data for grey balance in the mid-tones rather than on the densitometric aims for each color." Gerlach continued, "Each press run has added to our body of knowledge and we now have a much clearer idea of how a typical high quality commercial printer prints. We have finalized our definition of gray balance and are working to finalize our definition of neutral print density curves to reflect the typical performance of today's commercial printers, both in the USA and overseas."
The most recent GRACoL Press Run at the L. P. Thebault Company confirmed the new GRACoL color methodology for calibrating the press, achieving gray balance to the mid-tones by delivering the shortest make ready times to date. In addition, this press run broke new ground by completing a stochastic run that was a close visual match to the halftone run completed the previous day using the same calibration and process control methods.
According to Don Hutcheson, Chair of GRACoL, "This is the third press run where we have used a "euro-like" curve that is a refinement of the TR001-based curve. The new curve more closely matches the average curve of several existing ICC profiles developed by the ECI (European Color Initiative). The difference with the new curve is subtle, but we feel it improves the appearance of the GRACoL sheet, while simultaneously aligning the proposed new US commercial printing standard more closely with the goals of the "Printing Across Borders" initiative (PAB), of which IDEAlliance GRACoL, ECI and the Ghent PDF Workgroup are founding members. (For more information on PAB, go to www.backandforth.org.)
By participating in the creation of new GRACoL requirements, LPT will reference the guidelines as part of their color management process, to reduce any compromise in color reproduction, and offer internationally recognized brands and advertising agencies greater accuracy in on-press image reproduction, with more predictability and consistency across the proof-to-press process. The proofing process will be adjusted to reflect real world production situations allowing customers more time to perfect creative imagery without wasting additional press time and exhausting budgets. Jim Sewell, vice president of technology and prepress at L.P. Thebault stated, "We are excited to participate in the
development of standard requirements for printing that produce consistent, reliable results from printer to printer. GRACoL guidelines, combined with LPT's 8 color web, stochastic, and hypercolor capabilities provide great value to our customers, assuring them that we have the tools and the techniques to meet their demands and enhance their brand image and quality".
To understand the principles behind the new GRACoL methods, download "The Quest for Real Print Standards" at www.gracol.org.
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