Automated color control, inspection and register guidance innovations that deliver print perfection and ensure lean, waste-free production
Sussex, Wisconsin, USA - With a theme of "moving you forward," the QuadTech stand at IGAS 2011, Tokyo, Japan (booth E2-40) will feature a wide range of solutions that enhance the performance of web presses, improving the quality, cost and immediacy of products printed in gravure, flexo or offset. QuadTech's current product range covers register and ribbon control, color control, web inspection and print-data management. These capabilities are customized to specific applications by focused teams working within a Strategic Business Unit structure.
The company will showcase a host of innovations at the show, for the commercial web-offset, packaging and newspaper printing sectors.
Commercial web offset
The shift to smaller production runs, shorter lead-times and the need for multi-versioning has made productivity an important issue in commercial web-offset print. QuadTech has provided a long line of innovations in automated in-line inspection and spectral color control for this sector.
The Color Control System with Instrument Flight and SpectralCamTM is designed for all web widths including the latest 96-page presses. It uses a spectral-based sensor to gather colorimetric and densitometric data across a fast-moving web from a continuous color bar.
The latest version of the system captures 31 channels of accurate spectral color data from multiple points in each patch of the color bar. The data, converted into L*a*b* and densitometric measurements, is then analyzed by System Brunner's enhanced Instrument Flight + L*a*b* to facilitate the highest levels of accuracy in color control and gray balance. Overall the enhanced system gives a better match between proof and print. More importantly, this match is maintained throughout the run, and at all speeds, by self-learning algorithms that automatically compensate for any change in running conditions.
Another new feature, Colorimetric Reporting, provides a tool for printers to color manage their entire production from prepress to printed output. Due to the accuracy and consistency provided by the system, test forms - such as those developed by the German bvdm - can be printed with such precision that the color control data can be used to set up and calibrate all color-related processes. The data is output in industry-standard formats for direct entry into prepress.
QuadTech's MultiCam has provided accurate color-to-color register, cut-off register and ribbon register to commercial web and newspaper printers for many years. System capabilities include Ink guiding for control of print-to-slitter register. An enhanced version will feature Cocking for tilting images across the web and Fan-out to minimize the effects of web growth. MultiCam is one of many QuadTech products that integrate over the company's ICONTM platform, a central operator control station for QuadTech controls.
Because point-of-sale impact plays an important role in brand success, packaging print quality expectations have risen. QuadTech's inspection , color measurement and register guidance offerings are available for all web-fed packaging segments, including flexible packaging, corrugated, folding carton and tag & label. The technology uses 3-CCD RGB line-scan cameras to compare each print repeat against a "golden template." This is a printed copy considered by the press operator to be as close to perfect as possible. The system can identify streaks, scumming, misregister, missing text or images and many other defects, including physical contamination such as hickies.
The QuadTech Inspection System inspects the entire substrate in-line during printing, laminating and rewinding. Unlike other inspection systems that only scan small sample areas, the QuadTech Inspection System achieves total defect detection with the press running uninterrupted at normal print speeds, inspecting the entire substrate width 100% of the time.
The Inspection System with SpectralCamTM combines true 100% inspection with advanced color measurement in a single system. The technology has been enhanced with the capability of measuring color in-line on unsupported film as well as paper. The system assures continuous, in-line monitoring of virtually all web-fed package materials, including transparent, translucent and opaque substrates. The SpectralCam camera uses true 31 bin spectrophotometer technology to measure spectral response and calculates accurate L*a*b*, ΔE and ΔDensity values at maximum press and rewinder speeds. It measures up to 72 color targets within the work, and is many times more sensitive to subtle color differences than the human eye.
The stand-alone Color Measurement System with SpectralCamTM provides fast, accurate color measurement on the running press. Smart spectrophotometer technology enables the system to quickly detect and analyze colorimetric and density variations from pre-determined targets. A new high resolution dot viewing capability option is now available.
The AutotronTM 2600 with ClearLogicTM Register Guidance System is an integrated, flexible and cost-efficient tool for minimizing waste and improving print quality across packaging and decorative printing applications. Its specialized solid-state scanning heads can detect a wide range of pale and low-contrast marks, thus ensuring complete control regardless of substrate, ink, or printing technique.
The trend in newspaper printing for better control over color is being fuelled by a need to diversify. Semi-commercial products, hybrid heatset/coldest newspapers and publications geared to attract advertisers - such as lifestyle supplements - are now commonplace.
QuadTech's latest technology advancement combines industry-leading color control and web inspection, all from the same sensor. The QuadTech Color Control and Web Inspection System with AccuCamTM utilizes a proprietary 6-channel spectral sensor for L*a*b*-based color control - eliminating the need for colorbars or graybars. This closed-loop system analyzes the entire image and automatically obtains target aim point values from a high-resolution prepress file to maintain accurate color by automatically adjusting ink keys. The system also automatically controls and optimizes the ink ratchet for superb inking performance, creating better color, reduced waste and minimized operator intervention. All surfaces are inspected and common print faults such as scumming, blanket smashes, incorrect plates, and color variations are detected.
The system has been installed at a number of high-profile newspaper printing operations in the last 12 months. In Japan, Sankei Shimbun's Hokusetsu (Osaka) plant has used AccuCam to achieve NSAC-standard color. The plant is now producing the best color quality in the Sankei group, and has established the color standard for all Sankei plants to meet. Also, five units are being installed on two manroland Colorman presses at Herold Druck und Verlag AG, based in Vienna, Austria.
Register Guidance System, which includes the MultiCam camera, has been enhanced with automated features such as fan-out control and front-to-back register control. QuadTech's fan-out control software automatically keeps the press in lateral register across the full width of the web, throughout the entire run. Register control cameras mounted on both the gear and operator sides of the web capture tiny shifts in lateral register and instantly make automatic corrections via an interface with the bustle wheels.
Performance Proven Guarantee
To complement its extended range of products and to underline the company's confidence in its own technology, QuadTech introduced a Performance Proven Guarantee. This initiative is a pledge that customers will receive guaranteed levels of performance improvement as a result of their investment in QuadTech technology.
When an order is placed, QuadTech specialists agree with the customer the level of performance improvement expected after installation. Performance is then tracked using the reports generated by the QuadTech solution. Customers who do not experience agreed-upon levels of improvements, after a specified period, are entitled to a full refund of the equipment cost.
Karl Fritchen, President of QuadTech, comments: "Everything we do is focused on keeping our customers at the cutting edge of print quality and cost. The launch of this initiative reflects our confidence in our ability to deliver total satisfaction in all press control situations."