Feast for the Eye
Digital proofers can produce packaging's custom colors in minutes, but can converters afford the technology they need?
By Susan Friedman
Digital proofing's transformation of proof production cycle time is bound to help package printers over any separation anxiety for film.
To hear Neil Potter, business manager for the packaging market at Imation tell it, digital proofing's productivity benefits can't get much clearer. Printers can trade analog proofing's half-day to two-day cycle times, or on-press proofing's two-day to one-week cycle times, in favor of a digital proof produced in minutes, he says.
Presstek Product Manager Sandy Fuhs adds that digital proofing can remove the majority of irksome variables that alter color and quality. Presstek's new PEARLhdp digital halftone proofer, which uses Imation's Matchprint Laser Proof media, eliminates traditional proof process fluctuations in imagesetter linearization, film processing and proof processing, as well as equipment and material inconsistencies in film batches, vacuum frame and light source, and proof material batches, she says.
Converters may experience a pang of longing for film when they consider that digital proofs will not reveal previously unseen image details. "I wouldn't expect to see a significant improvement in image quality simply by investing in digital, except in the case of digital plate imaging devices," comments Ken Lowden, marketing and industry relations manager, DuPont Color Proofing.
Continuous tone digital proofs may provide enough detail and resolution for image data, but not for fine text and illustration graphics when compared to an analog proof. "In many cases, digital proofs do not show the final dot shape and screen angle that is still a necessary requirement for a certain portion of packaging customers," explains Don Rogers, product manager, Heidelberg USA.
"Few digital proofers show actual halftone dots," agrees Pierre Ferland, international project manager, Alan Graphic Systems. "Those that do can have a cost prohibitive to most potential buyers."