Closing the Loop

Sound like another over-used phrase? But we actually have closed the loop, really.

In conjunction with LaCrosse Litho, Printing Partners has implemented a new system for quality control on our offset presses. The new system monitors and improves the quality and color we get from our presses while it helps us save on makeready.

What LaCrosse did for us was not to install one overall incomplete system, but to listen to our needs, evaluate our technical situation and design a system using components from several manufacturers. They created new applications to integrate everything, customizing the whole system to accomplish what we needed and helping us chart a new direction for the future of Printing Partners.

ink-zoneWe achieved G7 Master Printer Certification in 2009, but felt we needed to expand upon that. By designing this new system we have now created a feedback loop for our offset presses, giving us the ability to learn. The new system starts with the PDF, either created in-house or supplied by one of our customers. Once the PDF is approved for printing, it is color optimized, improving color match for CMYK and spot colors. The system also performs an undercolor removal, utilizing a profile for each one of our presses, to reduce unnecessary CMYK color builds saving ink and improving drying time.

Once the PDF has been optimized it is placed into its imposition and prepared for proofing and plates. We run our G7 Certified Matchprint proof for approval and as a baseline color reference for the press operators. The plate color curves are calibrated for the press the job will run on and a series of ink key presets are electronically sent to the press to aide in getting up to optimum color faster.

On press, everything is brought up to color and an initial press sheet is run and the color bar is scanned into the system. The feedback we receive tells us if the ink key presets are correct given the pressroom conditions. This information is stored in the database for future use in setting the initial ink keys. The color bar scan also tells use if our color is still within G7 color standards and if corrections are needed the system graphically shows them to the press operator. This process is repeated throughout the entire press run approximately every 125 sheets, thereby ensuring that the entire run is consistent.

When the press run is complete, all of the press settings are stored under your job number for retrieval at a later date, if additional sheets are needed or for re-orders. This gives us a very accurate starting point ensuring that the colors will match from run to run.

This system will continue to evolve offering our pressmen greater feedback, enhancing our sustainability and improving overall quality. The next time you have a job printing, ask your salesperson about a press check and come see the system in operation.

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