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Image Enhancement: Better Files, Cost Savings

(February 2013) posted on Tue Mar 12, 2013

Mandel discusses how to conserve ink and make image files easier to print by replacing CMY elements with black.

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By Rick Mandel

The RIP is one piece of software that doesn’t mind the reference of GCR/UCR when it’s used to assist in file optimization and ink savings. The RIP product you may have now may create the ink savings for which you’re looking. For example, when you send Onyx’s Thrive a PDF, it only processes the file. The file is not optimized. If you send a PostScript or EPS, the RIP will process the file into an optimized PDF. Part of the optimization is ink savings through GCR/UCR. Onyx has that as part of the profiling process. It is called PowerChroma.
Per Onyx, their engineers have written an algorithm that allows GCR and UCR to be applied at the same time. The combination allows for a smoother result with more ink saving (Figure 5). Onyx notes its PowerChroma ink-savings technology allows users of Thrive and ProductionHouse to build color profiles to fit their quality demands and reduce their cost.

With the latest addition of the GCR Plus setting to Onyx’s PowerChroma feature, users can build profiles that can save up to 30% ink, while maintaining smooth output quality in lighter tone regions. Existing profiles will be rebuilt without the need to re-measure the data, ultimately creating optimized profiles. As with other software, customization of UCR and GCR components are available (Figure 6).The results are three fold: better imagery, easier printing, and ink-cost savings.

EFI’s RIP solution also optimizes the ICC profile, as it produces the ICC profile in the color-manager module. It is at this stage that GCR/UCR can be introduced for the optimal ink savings, while balancing image integrity.

ICC profiles
Implementing ICC color management remains tedious in multidevice and multiprocess environments. An individual ICC profile for each press and substrate is technically right but practically difficult. It may not be necessary to achieve very good and consistent results on the press, because:
• A printer does not always know far in advance which print device will be used to print a job; therefore, in these cases, it is not possible to use the actual print profile for production.
• Substrates can be chosen or changed at the last minute depending on price, availability, etc. Print results can vary dramatically between substrates, even in the same category.

Therefore, one choice is send each production file through an optimizing server to alter the values of the native file. This enhanced file will have the ability to print more effectively on each of your printing devices. In essence, it is an easier file to print. The result is increased color consistency and ink savings.

The server method is wonderful for the creation of color separations for an analog printing process (offset, screen, flexo). Alwan and OneVision are examples of this method. Another choice is a solution to create a better ICC profile generated through the profile producing software, such as ICEMeta. The optimized profile will also advance the color production and ink savings. The last solution is altering the base profile within your current RIP solution that takes advantage of GCR/UCR options.

All methods reduce the total area ink coverage of chromatic color components independently from their absolute values, as far as this is possible, by replacement with black ink. The benchmark for all these processes should always be the visual impression of the graphic that meets your client’s expectations.


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