Prime-time for Contone Proofing
Today's improved ink jet technology offers an impressive mix of color accuracy, media versatility, and affordability.
by Jessica Millward, Associate Editor
ALL PROOFS ARE not created equal. Nor should they be. The range of proof requisites varies from printer to printer, and from production stage to production stage. While newly developed digital halftone systems get closer to ultimate color matching (see next month's PrePress article for more details), ink jet-based digital proofing comprises the all-round best solution for many prepress programs. Suppliers' keen interest in developing both drop-on-demand and continuous ink jet devices testifies to contone's strong foothold within the packaging market.
On the spot
In proofing, the chief concern for package printers remains the ability to reproduce spot colors. The reconciliation of digital technology and trademark (often brand-specific) colors is an ongoing process, but one making discernible strides.
As Mark Vanover, marketing director for digital proofing at CreoScitex America relates, "The success of any proofing device to render spot colors is primarily dependent on the RIP technology." He notes CreoScitex's IrisPRINT series of continuous ink jet proofers employs a Pantone-approved workflow that utilizes the wide color gamut ink set to successfully represent a majority of the Pantone color space with a high degree of accuracy.
Another pressing concern facing package printers is determining the image accuracy level demanded by their output. Digital halftone systems yield the greatest image fidelity and most exact halftone reproduction, yet the investment outlay for such precision is not within every budget.
While contone proofing accounts for approximately 35 percent of CreoScitex sales to package printers (65 percent comes from sales of halftone proofing equipment), Vanover stresses the importance of learning your specific needs as well as how different proofing technologies will serve them. "While drop-on-demand, continuous tone proofing has become more widely accepted, correct expectations of users need to be set in regards to what the DOD capabilities are and are not."