Printing Gradients

Perfecting Your Gradients

 


In this day and age customers expect perfection. Whether it’s the color accuracy of a photo or the perfectly straight fold of a brochure, printers are always trying to squeeze the most out of their tools. In this article I want to cover a particularly difficult area of printing; gradients.

A gradient, in regards to printing, is a smooth blend from one color to another. Gradients can come in all shapes and sizes, they can also include more than two colors. Their use has steadily increased in our industry as designers have started taking advantage of the growing number of color printers in the field. Gradients bring a set of challenges to the printer, especially in digital printing.

There are several guidelines you can follow to get the most out of your gradients. The most effective method for improving your final results starts at the design stage by adhering to some basic guidelines. Things like making sure it’s a vector element and dictating values that won’t clash with the natural dot gain from the print engine. There are also some steps you can take at the last minute to improve your results right at the print engine.

Firstly, vector gradients are far superior to raster artwork. In a nutshell, raster artwork is comprised of pixels with a defined resolution. Each individual pixel has its own color designation. A raster gradient could be described as a picture of a gradient. Vector gradients are mathematically defined. A vector gradient is essentially a line with points along its axis with color anchors. This more simple method of creating a gradient is far simpler and more forgiving once it hits the print engine. Vector gradients allow the RIP system in the print engine to do its own calculations of all the colors in between the defined anchor points. In essence it gives the printer a degree of flexibility to smoothly draw the fade based on its own math. A raster gradient comes predefined and the printer simply outputs what it receives, which isn’t always a good fit for the printer (Figure 1).

Second, we’ll talk about color limits and dot gain. This can be a deep topic but there are some simple rules to keep things simple. This part focuses on the color choices and what specific colors are used within the gradient. Simply speaking, you want to avoid having your gradient reach the limits of the color channel. That is to say, your lowest and highest color values should be within the center 80% of the full range of color (Figure 2).

When venturing outside of this safe range you are likely to experience a phenomena when printing where your gradient will have a hard step. This occurs when the color values defined in the artwork cross over the dot gain that happens during printing. Printers have a word for this, it’s called plugging. Basically what’s happening is the artwork is calling for such a high fidelity dot that it falls outside of what’s possible for the printer to reproduce (Figure 3).

Those tips are great if you have the luxury of going back to the source document. Often times, trouble doesn’t arise until crunch time when a job is due. In that situation, options are limited to changes on the output side. There are a couple things you can do to help improve your results.

Calibration is critical for smooth gradients. Calibration, or more specifically linearization, is your first line of defense when having trouble printing a gradient. A proper linearization forces the print engine’s output to be true to dot. When a machine falls out of calibration you can start to see unwanted shifts in small ranges of color. On most printers, the calibration or linearization process is rather user friendly and it’s just good practice to keep the printer calibrated.

If you’re still struggling to print a smooth gradient and your printer is well calibrated you may need to explore running at a lower line screen. Printing at a lower LPI will increase the size of the dots comprising the printed image. This can help to ease the load on the print engine and help it to produce a smoother looking gradient. It can have some adverse effects on other elements in the job but this trade off can help in some situations. If your print engine or RIP system allows, you can also experiment with alternate dot shapes, such as stochastic or a line shaped dot.

Gradients can be difficult, in many ways, they are one of the toughest elements to print. With a bit of planning ahead you can circumvent many problems by just changing some properties of the gradient. In a pinch you can also experiment with the output settings of the engine and get out of trouble.


Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507
www.midstatelitho.net

714 Ultrafold Set Up Tips

BaumFolder 714 UltraFold

The 714 Ultrafold is a very popular table top folder designed to be robust and easy to setup. Below are several tips that can help you set up this folder to run properly for your next job. These are just a few of the more common issues that people come across when setting up a machine.

Safety First!

    • Before working on the folder, DISCONNECT ALL ELECTRICAL POWER SUPPLY TO THE FOLDER to prevent the accidental start of the folder.
    • Check to make sure that you have the correct tools to complete the job.
    • For the reasons of safety, long hair must be tied back or otherwise secured, garments must be close fitting and no jewelry, such as rings or necklaces, may be worn while adjusting or setting up equipment.
    • Injury may result from being caught up in the machinery or jewelry catching on moving parts. Take all necessary steps so this doesn’t happen.

714 UltraFold Set Up714 UltraFold Set Up Tips:

  • Check to see if pump has sufficient suction. If not, enough, check the following.
    • Check and clean air filters
    • Check hose connections from pump for cracks and blockages. Repair as necessary.
  • Make sure guides are positioned properly. Paper should not be too tight or loose in feeder.
    • Too tight and it will not feed properly.
    • Too loose and the folds will be inconsistent.
  • Check that the caliper assembly is 90° relative to the feed table.
  • Check that the air tube holes (front blow) are pointing towards the scribe line. When the air is turned on, the bottom sheets should be blown down to the sucker wheel.
  • Check the gap underneath the sheet detector tab.
    • Insert two thickness of paper between the caliper tab and the sucker wheel.
    • Turn the gap knob counter-clockwise to tighten or clockwise to loosen.
    • Set the gap knob until there is a slight drag on the paper.
    • Remove the paper and the correct gap is now set.
    • When you load the feeder, the printing will be up.

Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507
www.midstatelitho.net

How to Check Your Roll Condition on Your Folder

The fold rolls in your Baumfolder are the heart and muscle of your folding operation. Make sure these valuable investments are still able to give you the quality work your customer demand. This simple procedure can let you verify the condition of your rolls which will give you confidence on that next job.

To Check This Operation – Lock out the power supply to the folder so it can’t be started up while you have your hand in the folder.

As you use your folder for a length of time, the ink from the printing can build up and cause the rollers to become slick and to lose their grip. If you begin to have trouble holding a fold, raise the fold plate with the folder power locked off and the fold plate secure so it does not fall on your hand. Check the urethane section of the fold rollers to determine if this has happened. Use SURE WASH and clean the fold rollers. This difficulty to clean the rollers depends on the amount of ink on the rollers.

To check for wear, with power locked out so no one can start the folder, remove the fold plates. Insert several single strips of paper rolled by hand into the roll in a forward direction about half way. Have a single strip of the same paper in the Baum sets. Now pull on each strip of paper, (don’t pull all the way out). You should have the same tension on all the strips. There may be a very slight difference and still be OK. Put the fold plates back in their proper location.

Also, check for gouges or nicks created by severe jam-ups or using screw drivers to remove jams.


Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507

Graph Expo 2014 Free Registration

Graph Expo 2014

Graph Expo 14, together with co-located show CPP Expo, is the most comprehensive “selling” trade show for Digital, Inkjet, Offset, Flexo, Gravure and Hybrid technologies, products and services for the Commercial, Transactional, Converting and Package Printing, Publishing, Mailing, In-Plant, Photo Imaging, Marketing and Industrial Printing industries this year!

There are only 45 days left until Graph Expo and if you have not registered for your Free Attendee Badge, you can do so by selecting the link below and completing the form: Register for Graph Expo Here!

When: September 28 – October 1, 2014

Where: McCormick Place South, Chicago, IL USA

Show Dates & Hours:

  • Sunday, September 28, 12 noon – 5 pm
  • Monday, September 29, 10 am – 5 pm
  • Tuesday, September 30, 10 am – 5 pm
  • Wednesday, October 1, 10 am – 3 pm

Check out our vendors at Graph Expo 2014:

  • Standard #1923
  • Morgana #4013
  • Challenge Machinery #3621
  • Akiles Products #4048
  • Baum #4704
  • Deluxe Stitcher Co. #3940
  • Drylam #3963
  • Ferris State University #4945
  • MBM Corporation #4051
  • MGI #3013
  • Mitsubishi Imaging #1643
  • Okidata #4231
  • Rena #2602
  • James Burns (Foliant) #1941

For a complete list of vendors, visit www.graphexpo.com. Housing for Graph Expo 14 is open, visit Graph Expo’s hotel and travel section here!


Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507
www.midstatelitho.net

OKI C900 Series

OKI Data C900 SeriesArticle Provided by OKI Data Americas, Inc.

OKI Data Americas announces a new category of digital printing technology with the introduction of its Multimedia Production Platform – a series of production-quality A3 color devices with innovative features and functionality that will revolutionize the office and commercial printing industries, alike. These new devices go far beyond the capabilities of traditional digital color printers, adding game-changing media handling that includes transparent media, magnets, banners and heavyweight cardstock – all within a single, compact unit. By defining this new space within the market, OKI further establishes itself as a leader in LED digital printing innovation.

Within the Multimedia Production Platform is the innovative new C900 Series. This latest series of groundbreaking digital color products includes three new A3 models – one of which features an industry-first LED five station toner configuration that supports white or clear spot color printing capabilities. All were developed to meet a wide range of graphic arts and commercial printing needs.

“OKI is excited to announce its pioneering new Multimedia Production Platform. We are re-defining LED digital color printing by introducing a new category of devices that can handle a truly impressive range of media,” said Carl Taylor, Vice President of Marketing for OKI Data Americas. “A key to the enhanced performance of these new OKI devices is our proprietary Single Pass Color technology which allows for faster print speeds, superior color resolution and registration, and expanded media handling capabilities.”

One of the benefits of OKI’s new Multimedia Production Platform is the users’ ability to expand input and output capabilities with the addition of an optional EFI Fiery XF server, feeders, stackers and other supplemental hardware for use with certain devices.

The new C900 Series units from OKI  includes the C911dn, C931dn, and C941dn, offering best in class high-definition color print quality, high volume productivity and diverse media handling abilities at a low running cost. Features include print speeds of up to 50 pages per minute1 and toner yields of up to 38,000 pages, delivering fast, reliable and cost-effective output. Handling a recommended monthly print volume of 25,000 pages, the C900 Series meets the needs of large, demanding workgroups.

These new printers further underscore OKI’s technological leadership and ability to deliver innovative, high functioning, and high quality printing solutions to an evolving marketplace.

The revolutionary new C941dn LED digital color printer features a five station toner configuration with cyan, magenta, yellow and black, plus white or clear in the fifth position; this provides an expansive new world of printing capabilities and revenue-generating opportunities. In fact, the C941dn from OKI is the first LED printer in its class to offer white or clear spot color printing and other productivity-enhancing capabilities, and is available with an EFI Fiery XF server.

Similarly, the C931dn digital color printer supports an optional EFI Fiery XF server. Designed for large workgroups and office use, the C931dn offers full color, high resolution printing capabilities, and handles a wide range of media for maximum output flexibility at a low total cost of ownership (TCO). In fact, the TCO for the C931dn is 25 percent lower versus comparable models.

The C911dn offers improved speed, print quality and performance over its predecessor. As with all C900 Series models, the C911dn features a more robust chassis, improved user interface featuring a high resolution color LCD display, and higher capacity toners for a low cost per page.

Taylor continued, “These new production-grade printers from OKI bring on-demand color printing capabilities in-house, and are ideal for companies that require high-quality output, media handling flexibility, and color consistency.”


Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507
www.midstatelitho.net

MGI JETcard

MGI JETcardArticle Provided by MGI Digital Graphic Technology

Utilizing MGI’s award winning and revolutionary inkjet technology, the JETcard provides card manufacturers with an all-inclusive printing solution.

The JETcard utilizes blank cards (with smart chip, magnetic stripe or RFID) and is ideal for turnkey production from 1 card to millions, all ready to be sold (fully printed, personalized, coated, encoded & verified).

The JETcard is targeted for card manufacturers as well as commercial printers, maximizing productivity for high volume applications while still remaining cost-effective for short runs. The JETcard has already been awarded the prestigious “2010 Siemens Innovation Grand Prix” and the Graph Expo 2011 “Must See ‘em”, in recognition of MGI’s R&D achievement.

From an individual blank ISO CR-80 card, the JETcard is able to achieve in one pass, the following processes:

  • Pre-print coating to ensure a full compatibility with the substrates available on the market (PVC, ABS, paper, etc.)
  • Printing in 4 to 6 UV colors
  • Micro text and guilloché patterns
  • Full variable data printing including text, barcodes & images
  • Spot UV coating or flood UV coating for card protection
  • Security inks revealed only under a black light
  • Read & write capabilities on HiCo/LoCo magnetic stripes
  • Automated quality controls and ejection into a rejection bin of the defective cards

New Enhanced Printing functions (2011)

  • Printing with spectacular embossing/3D effects or flat print effect
  • Opaque white UV ink now available
  • Signature panel printing
  • Variable Data Printing even on embossed/3D effects

Drop-on-demand technology and an integrated RIP enable full variable data printing on all JETcard inks and coatings. For example, the security coating can be used as an anti-counterfeiting feature, revealing inks only when held under a black light.

MGI’s JETcard is a true Card Factory and can replace up to 5 different pieces of equipment traditionally used in the plastic card production chain: Litho press, collator, lamination press, die cutter and encoder/personalization printer.

Other key features of the JETcard include:

  • A production speed up to 8,000 cards per hour (simplex)
  • One of the highest print resolutions available (up to 720 x 2160 dpi)
  • Accommodates PVC, Teslin, synthetic or paper cards from 350-1000 microns (ISO CR-80 format)
  • HiCo/LoCo magnetic stripe support (read/write)
  • Capability to store up to 2,500 cards within 5 different magazines
  • Automated controls for ensuring data accuracy between card front and back

For additional product information visit us online at www.midstatelitho.net or view product page by clicking here.


Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507
www.midstatelitho.net

Graph Expo 2014 Free Registration

Graph Expo 2014

Graph Expo 14, together with co-located show CPP Expo, is the most comprehensive “selling” trade show for Digital, Inkjet, Offset, Flexo, Gravure and Hybrid technologies, products and services for the Commercial, Transactional, Converting and Package Printing, Publishing, Mailing, In-Plant, Photo Imaging, Marketing and Industrial Printing industries this year!

There are only 45 days left until Graph Expo and if you have not registered for your Free Attendee Badge, you can do so by selecting the link below and completing the form: Register for Graph Expo Here!

When: September 28 – October 1, 2014

Where: McCormick Place South, Chicago, IL USA

Show Dates & Hours:

  • Sunday, September 28, 12 noon – 5 pm
  • Monday, September 29, 10 am – 5 pm
  • Tuesday, September 30, 10 am – 5 pm
  • Wednesday, October 1, 10 am – 3 pm

Check out our vendors at Graph Expo 2014:

  • Standard #1923
  • Morgana #4013
  • Challenge Machinery #3621
  • Akiles Products #4048
  • Baum #4704
  • Deluxe Stitcher Co. #3940
  • Drylam #3963
  • Ferris State University #4945
  • MBM Corporation #4051
  • MGI #3013
  • Mitsubishi Imaging #1643
  • Okidata #4231
  • Rena #2602
  • James Burns (Foliant) #1941

For a complete list of vendors, visit www.graphexpo.com. Housing for Graph Expo 14 is open, visit Graph Expo’s hotel and travel section here!


Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507
www.midstatelitho.net

Graph Expo 2014 Free Registration

Graph Expo 2014

Graph Expo 14, together with co-located show CPP Expo, is the most comprehensive “selling”  trade show for Digital, Inkjet, Offset, Flexo, Gravure and Hybrid technologies, products and services for the Commercial, Transactional, Converting and Package Printing, Publishing, Mailing, In-Plant, Photo Imaging, Marketing and Industrial Printing industries this year!

There are only 45 days left until Graph Expo and if you have not registered for your Free Attendee Badge, you can do so by selecting the link below and completing the form: Register for Graph Expo Here!

When: September 28 – October 1, 2014

Where: McCormick Place South, Chicago, IL USA

Show Dates & Hours:

  • Sunday, September 28, 12 noon – 5 pm
  • Monday, September 29, 10 am – 5 pm
  • Tuesday, September 30, 10 am – 5 pm
  • Wednesday, October 1, 10 am – 3 pm

Check out our vendors at Graph Expo 2014:

  • Standard #1923
  • Morgana #4013
  • Challenge Machinery #3621
  • Akiles Products #4048
  • Baum  #4704
  • Deluxe Stitcher Co. #3940
  • Drylam #3963
  • Ferris State University #4945
  • MBM Corporation #4051
  • MGI #3013
  • Mitsubishi Imaging #1643
  • Okidata #4231
  • Rena #2602
  • James Burns (Foliant) #1941

For a complete list of vendors, visit www.graphexpo.com. Housing for Graph Expo 14 is open, visit Graph Expo’s hotel and travel section here!


Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507
www.midstatelitho.net

MGI Digital Graphic Technology

MGI Digital Graphic TechnologyArticle Provided by
My Print Resource

As a world leader in digital printing and finishing equipment, MGI Digital Graphic Technology provides groundbreaking and value-added solutions for the graphic industry. Founded in 1982, MGI is listed on the Euronext/NYSE as ALMDG.

MGI’s R&D center blends engineering performance in electronics, IT, micro-mechanics, colorimetry, chemistry and inkjet, while keeping current with market demands and trends. With an annual investment of 20% of sales back into R&D, the constant innovation process leads to the rapid integration of new technology in order to provide graphics professionals with unparalleled quality, flexibility and profitability in the evolving graphics market.

Our line of products is backed by reliable and proven technologies designed to meet our customers’ high expectations. We strive to integrate environmentally friendly solutions into our design and manufacturing processes, such as using ozone-free lamps and promoting active recycling programs.

MGI’s digital printing and finishing solutions are placed in a wide range of industries, including commercial printers, plastic card manufacturers, government agencies, packaging firms, in-plant printers, newspaper printers, photo printers/labs and book printers.

As we look forward to the new dawn breaking over the printing industry, MGI’s goal remains innovating a product portfolio that remains one step ahead of the curve, all while keeping the same company values that has lead to our success: To remain an environmentally and ethically responsible company, constantly driven by innovation, and dedicated to providing graphic professionals with cutting edge tools that will help lead the print industry’s revolution.

Product Portfolio

  • Meteor DP8700 XL - The most versatile digital press in the global graphics market, the Meteor DP8700 XL offers users the widest range of substrates available (paper, plastics & envelopes), the largest sheet size available (up to 102 cm / 40″ in production), laser-safe prints, no click charge and an economical total cost of operation, 25 different line screens (including stochastic), plus offset-comparable output quality.
  • JETcard - A fully digital inkjet plastic card production “factory” that prints up to 6 colors with varnish, with full personalization and data encoding done on the fly.
  • JETvarnish - MGI’s revolutionary JETvarnish digital inkjet spot UV coater provides an economical, 100% digital method for offline spot UV coating, a premium service that generates real bottom line profits.
  • PressCard Pro - An industrial production unit dedicated to the short run lamination of plastic substrates.
  • PunchCard Pro - A semiautomatic card punching unit capable of punching 8,500 ISO CR-80 plastic cards per hour.

Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507
www.midstatelitho.net

New trends can enhance direct marketing offerings

Business that have used direct marketing for long enough know the power of a well-managed and properly crafted mailing campaign. A company can’t simply decide to send out mailers to customers without any sort of planning or behind-the-scenes work to craft an appealing message and image.

Putting the time and energy into this effort will definitely pay off. One of the most important parts of keeping direct mail efforts exciting is tactfully incorporating new trends into a campaign. Businesses do need some restraint to avoid simply following the bandwagon of the latest trend, but using a few new ideas can improve the effectiveness of mailers. With that in mind, here’s a look at some hot concepts in direct mail:

  • Reminding and bringing back lapsed customers: Forbes stated this area has been underserved by direct mail in some instances and is increasing in popularity. Attracting a client who hasn’t made a recent purchase may seem more difficult than encouraging a loyal, repeat buyer, but it’s likely easier than reaching out to a completely new person. This type of lapsed purchaser is already familiar with the brand’s product or service, so the business can focus more on highlighting new offerings and recent developments. Providing an incentive for these customers to once again buy from the company can be effective. Having good mail list management to keep track of this subset of buyers is especially important, as it’s likely that lapsed clients may have moved, gotten married and changed their names or experienced other life events that require an update to contact information.
  • Combination campaigns: The use of direct mail to draw attention to campaigns on the Internet and in other marketing channels has become more popular in 2014, according to MarketingProfs. With social media playing a strong role in consumers’ lives, having a piece of direct mail that leads readers to a Facebook page or Twitter account can be very successful. Similarly, posts on social networks about a mailer arriving soon in certain regions can generate excitement. A piece of mail that is exclusive or only offered in a limited area can help build interest as well. Another strategy is to include a discount or coupon that can be activated though a website or social media page. Incorporating QR codes into direct mail and allowing smartphone and tablet users to quickly access these sites can also provide good results.
  • Customized printing: Advances in the printing field have made it easier for companies to make direct mail offerings more personal and pique the interest of recipients by putting their name on the envelope. The once-common approach of writing “current resident” on a mailer has been realized by the majority of consumers as shorthand for direct mail, so personalization can help a mailer make it in front of more eyes. Printing technology has also made it easier to change substantial parts of the body of a message, not just the address field. Increased customization, such as including the name of recipients in the body of a mailer’s text, can hold readers’ attention longer. Using this tactic requires businesses to make sure they have the correct spelling and even the preferred casual form of a recipient’s name on file, or the effectiveness will be mitigated. Using list management software to update and clean name and address records can help businesses avoid mistakes in this area. A business that decides to use a trend such as customized printing or attracting lapsed customers needs to make sure they’re doing everything possible to make the effort a success.

Article Provided By Satori Software. Visit Satori Online.