This ink control system helps the printers to save time, money and considerably increases the quality of production and can be used with all popular presses easily, says Sachin Shardul

30 May 2012 | By Sachin Shardul

The InkZone concept for presetting the ink keys on offset printing press is making life convenient for printers: they are saving money and gaining time; at the same time, they are achieving considerable increases in quality and productivity. The print firms who have taken advantage of this are: GP Offset in Mumbai, New Jack in Mumbai, Parksons Graphics in Mumbai, Sudhana Printers in Mumbai, Akruti Offset in Pune, Super Cartons in Pune, Mercury Graphics in Chennai, Art O Print in Ahmedabad.

The InkZone comprises of three major components, InkZone Di-Plot, InkZone Perfect and InkZone Loop. The print firms have the option for buying all the modules as one complete package or invest in individual modules.

InkZone Di-Plot 
InkZone Di-Plot smoothens the way with Job Definition Format (JDF). InkZone Di-Plot is normally installed in the pre-press department of a printing unit. The Di-Plot extracts the ink coverage data from the bitmap or CIP3 file supplied from the workflow into the required ink preset data and is sent to the InkZone Perfect software. 

Vishnu Kamat, assistant vice-president sales at AGS, says, “In most of the printing firms, preset values for ink zones are generated using the conventional method of keeping the plates on the console of the printing machine and visually setting the keys to the plate and in some cases using the plate scanners. Apart from the laborious handling of the printing plates, the visual perception setting also result in a relatively imprecise ink profile, while subsequent adjustment of the zones costs time and paper. InkZone Di-Plot, through the online transfer of bitmap files, work-intensive detour via the visual method and the plate scanner is eliminated.”

The main thing is, the InkZone Di-Plot refers to first-generation data.Kamat adds, “In view of shrinking print runs and frequent job changes, InkZone enables shorter set-up times and minimum start-up waste which means a significant increase not only in productivity but also profitability."

InkZone extends DI-Plot, the RIP-independent formproof solution, by a new component and brings manufacture-independent workflow all the way to the press. The bitmap data calculated by DI-Plot and used for the formproof can be simultaneously used for presetting the ink zones on the press.  Kamat says, “InkZone can be used with all popular press types. Existing offset machines without digitally preset ink zones can be upgraded with InkZone very easily and economically.” 

According to Kamat, DI-Plot can produce accurate formproofs from the ripped bitmap data of almost all workflow systems. The combination of control, measurement technology and workflow interface is unique.

InkZone Perfect
InkZone Perfect which consists of software and hardware, is connected to the press. The main feature of Perfect is that the ink coverage data obtained from the one bit or CIP3 file from the DI-Plot is applied to the paper curve which is set during the production. This software sets the Job Preset Values to the Machines keys using the hardware provided by the InkZone. The InkZone Perfect compares the computed preset data with the corrected values during each press run. By reading back the values measured throughout the print run, the calibration curve for a given set of printing conditions can be continuously corrected and will maintain the optimum result. When it comes to repeat orders, InkZone Perfect enables faster setup sequences, significant savings in paper, and a permanently stable, high-quality printing process. 

InkZone Loop
With InkZone Loop, the printing house saves time and cuts down on waste. Reference values are attained faster, and it’s easier to keep them within narrow limits. InkZone Loop enables set-ups in record time. InkZone Loop enables the automatic measurement (using automated strip readers) and evaluation of control strips, as well as the continuous transmission of computed correction values directly to the printing press. As a direct continuation of the preset function, the closed loop technology is responsible for non-stop control of the press and compliance with print production standards. 

Kamat says, “InkZone Loop supports measuring systems from a wide range of manufacturers. Density values on the sheet containing the printing control strip are measured in a matter of seconds, and can be visualised in InkZone Loop. Using saved data, the printer immediately recognises the ink zone where the colour is incorrect. In addition to density, InkZone Loop evaluates other factors like dot gain, grey balance etc. 

Kamat adds, “InkZone Loop supports any spot colour. All these functions combine several production steps that so far have mostly been carried out manually. InkZone Loop thus comes with a huge increase in efficiency. Streamlined sequences are important, especially at a time when print runs are shrinking. InkZone Loop generates a record of the measured colour data and maintains the consistency with repeat runs.” 

When paired with the automation and affordability of InkZone, it’s hard to envision a packaging or commercial printing environment where it wouldn’t be relevant.

InkZone was launched in June 2010 in India by Advance Graphic Systems (AGS), its exclusive authorised distributor.