CMIC Summit 2013: Ink reduction for food packaging printers

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Ink reduction for food packaging printers: how low can you go?
Sometimes you have to challenge common knowledge to innovate. ‘Old truths’ are often only old. To help one of its members, a food packaging printer that was very often confronted with PDF files with a very high ‘total area coverage’ TAC), VIGC did some practical tests with lower TAC levels. Eventually finding that much lower levels are acceptable, or even visually not distinguishable from a high TAC. The lower amount of ink can make a real difference for the food packaging printer: ink drying is faster, lowering the risk of set off. But the lower TAC needs to done the right way. Both in the composition of the CMYK (i.e. the construction of the profile) as well as the place in the workflow to apply the ink reduction.

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CMIC Summit 2013: Ink reduction for food packaging printers

  1. 1. © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2013 Ink reduction for food packaging Eddy Hagen General manager VIGC
  2. 2. Industry Challenge • Producing food packaging is a challenge, certainly carton printed with lithography: – Ink setoff can create migration – Oxidative inks dry very slowly (multiple days) – UV inks contain photo initiators, all of them were black listed in the EU a few years ago – Many designers LOVE a 400% black… 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2013 2
  3. 3. Audience Survey • Do you see a difference between the 4 samples that are distributed? – 1: I don’t see a difference – 2: I do see a difference, but all samples are acceptable (i.e. I would not reject the job) – 3: I do see a difference, one of them is unacceptable (i.e. I would reject that one or claim a discount) – 4: I do see a difference, multiple samples are unacceptable 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2013 3
  4. 4. VIGC • Flemish Innovation Center for Graphic Communication (Belgium) • Practical solutions to real live problems – Inspired by questions from our members – Search for the root of the problem 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2013 4
  5. 5. VIGC • Some examples: deviations between spectrophotometers – Everybody thinks his/her device tells the truth • Discussion between screen printer and his customer – VIGC study in printing companies (2008) • Deviations up to 3.77 delta E*ab • Differences between different brands • Maintenance is an issue 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2013 5
  6. 6. VIGC • Some examples: overprinting in PDF – 2011: many questions from printers: discussions with designers about the content of a print ready PDF • Usually: Adobe Acrobat vs Mac OS X Preview – PDF Viewer test + PDF Viewer Check 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2013 6
  7. 7. VIGC • Some examples: transparency blend space – 2012: VIGC Output Essentials • Workflow tool for designers (free!) • Step by step 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2013 7
  8. 8. The origins of our ‘Max TAC’ project • Meeting with a food packaging printer – Complaining about the designs he receives: way too much ink (350% or even higher) – Ink dries very slowly: only after a few days 100% dry • A real risk for contamination / migration! – Coating is not a solution: only top layer is dry • Die cutting: knives cut through the wet ink • Folding: edge might touch inside when folded – UV ink: all photo initiators blacklisted at that time – The root of the problem: designers are not aware of issues with high TAC 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2013 8
  9. 9. How black is black? • Immediate result of meeting: tutorial file – Show the different possibilities of ‘Rich Black’ – Show the influence of varnish • Some designers want a matte varnish (specific tactile experience!) but then complain that the black looks dull… 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 9
  10. 10. How low can you go? • Nobody could answer me… – Conventional wisdom: 350%, 300% is already ‘low’ • Launch X-Rite i1 Publish: initial tests – Small vs large profiles – Dozen profiles, increments of 20%, from 320% to 180% – Conversion of multiple images, not only pictures with deep black • Visual evaluation on monitor • Visual evaluation inkjet proof 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 10
  11. 11. First print test • 6 images, up to 9 different renderings – VIGC: 200, 220, 240, 260, 280, 300, 320% – ECI ISOcoated v2: 330, 300% – Adobe CoatedFogra 39 (330%) – Basiccolor ISOcoated v2 (330%) • Evaluation by a few seasoned printers (active in high quality and in food packaging) – They could barely see a difference… and were amazed by that… 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 11
  12. 12. More quality testing • VIGC50 XCS (eXtreme Color Suite) 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 12
  13. 13. More quality testing • Print/Easyfairs 2011 – Trade Show – 18 participants • Nobody would have rejected any one of the prints! • Technical director mid sized printing company: “If you would sent this job to 4 different printers, the prints would look much more different” 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 13
  14. 14. More quality testing • Measurements vs visual perception – We are addicted to numbers, loups and calculations most people don’t understand (e.g. delta E) – What matters: do you see a difference? – Matte coated samples – image C (the one with the highest deviations) • 320%: L = 11.91 • 300%: L = 12.47 (0.56 difference with 320%) • 260%: L = 13.97 (2.06 difference with 320%) • 220%: L = 15.06 (3.15 difference with 320%) 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 14
  15. 15. More quality testing 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 15 • Measurements vs visual perception – What matters: do you see a difference? • Most (all) people have a hard time seeing a difference when presented this way: with a small white border
  16. 16. More quality testing 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 16
  17. 17. VIGC Max TAC profiles + kit • ICC profiles available for free – 220%, 260%, 300%, 320% – Fogra39L (coated), Fogra47L (uncoated) • VIGC Max TAC Evaluation kit available for purchase 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 17
  18. 18. But… old habits die hard • “Ink reducation doesn’t work!” – The main issue: highlights (small dots) in CMY • Film based workflows vs Computer-to-Plate • Question: what about flexo? – 4-color printing on 2- or 1-color presses, with visual control by press operator vs 4-color presses with measurement systems – “100% K may cause picking” • Quality of paper has improved, due to higher press speeds – So: historical reasons! 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 18
  19. 19. But… where to convert? • What is the best place/worklow for ink reduction? • Use the right profile from the beginning! – And only convert 1 time! – If designers delivers CMYK PDF: they should use a low TAC profile! – But they don’t care… or they don’t know… • Educate! • Use the right incentives! 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 19
  20. 20. But… where to convert? • Ink reduction software / ‘color servers’ come with a risk… – PDFs with transparency: first convert, then flatten or the other way around? – Topic recent GWG meeting 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 20
  21. 21. But… where to convert? 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 21
  22. 22. But… where to convert? 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 22
  23. 23. But… where to convert? 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2012 23 • The designer must do his job right! – And the printer must respect what the designer did… – But probably the designer needs to be educated… • And the printer does have a responsability there!
  24. 24. Conclusion • Challenge conventional wisdom! – There are still opportunities for innovation in conventional printing • 260% TAC is not distuingishable from 320%, 220% is in most cases acceptable • Measurements vs visual perception – And how do we do that visual perception… – Be realistic! 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2013 24
  25. 25. Conclusion • Holistic approach! – The designer should use the right profile, but he has no immediate benefit – Trying to fix stuff isn’t the right choice: do it right the first time! • Similar to fixing errors in PDF files: yes, you can do that, but why are people creating PDF files with errors in the first place? – Education! 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2013 25
  26. 26. Future Research Questions • Ink reduction for spot colors • Ink reduction for flexo • Measuring vs seeing: what are realistic tolerances? – In a P2 environment (500 lux), not P1 (2000 lux) – ‘Average user’, not a trained specialist – How to compare colors, proof vs print? • See the VIGC Max TAC samples with/without the white border • Similar to Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue test: physical vs online 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2013 26
  27. 27. Audience Survey Results – 1: I don’t see a difference – 2: I do see a difference, but all samples are acceptable (i.e. I would not reject the job) – 3: I do see a difference, one of them is unacceptable (i.e. I would reject that one or claim a discount) – 4: I do see a difference, multiple samples are unacceptable 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2013 27
  28. 28. 10/10/2013 © Cross-Media Innovation Center – RIT CMIC Summit 2013 28 Thank You! Q & A Eddy Hagen General manager VIGC eddy.hagen@vigc.org

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