Software and controls: the year in review

16 December 2014

As the industry continually looks for speed of production, increased quality and reduction of errors, all at reduced cost to the customer, software and controls provide the foundation upon which these targets can be reached. Here Converting Today takes a look back through 2014 at some of the new developments in these areas.

Software ensures optimum plate mounting
Hybrid Software's Patchplanner flexo plate mounting workflow for AV Flexologic mounters takes a PDF digital design file and optimises the layout of the printed areas as individual elements, enabling a much smaller plate to be used than the actual size of the job. The software can then be used to control very accurately automatic cutting of the plate and repositioning of the parts on to a plastics carrier.

"Flexo plates are very expensive and anyone operating in a prepress department will immediately see the attraction of Patchplanner," says Jan Ruysschaert, managing director of Hybrid Software. "When producing something like a corrugated box, it is not unusual for only a tiny area to need to be printed, even though the box itself may be large. Until now a great deal of manual work has generally been required in order to avoid using large flexo plates.

"What Patchplanner does is to separate those printed elements in the design file and relay them so they take up the least amount of space. This data is then used to expose the smallest plate possible using an imager such as a ThermoFlexX. We can then send the information to a cutting table. Patchplanner software will control the cutting pattern, resulting in fast and accurate cutting.
"Using an AV Flexologic system," he concludes, "the plate would then be reassembled on to a plastic carrier ready for the printing press."

TRM and Flint open colour lab

UK corrugated converter TRM Packaging has opened its new colour lab, a collaboration with Flint Group which includes complete integrated colour management services as well as "market leading" quality and process reporting software.

Print development manager James Jolley states: "The new facility will allow our technicians to produce high specification digital print swatches and conduct assessments of inks, technical mediums and varnishes in house, which will reduce lead times associated with the process. It sits alongside the structural lab and enhances our product testing capabilities to ensure that the packaging we manufacture not only meets but also exceeds our customer requirements."

Part of a new five-year partnership with Flint, the new lab connects TRM directly with Flint's European Colour Centre in Lodz, Poland.

Join the gang for greater efficiency

A powerful new ganging module has been integrated into Rogler Software's TechnoLogic management information system (MIS). TechnoImposition is claimed to provide tight integration, outstanding performance and the ability to process even complex geometries such as folding cartons and labels.

While a growing number of online printers are applying the principle to standard products, ganging up also opens opportunities for conventional commercial printers to boost their profitability with certain product groups. In the past, identifying suitable jobs and arranging them optimally on the sheet has always required detailed know-how and proved extremely time consuming. Rogler has introduced the new module for its TechnoLogic MIS to automate ganging and reduce the time associated with it.

EFI Launches Fiery proServer 6

EFI has announced worldwide availability for its latest-version wide and superwide format inkjet Fiery proServer.

Designed for EFI's Vutek printers, Fiery proServer Version 6 is an advanced digital front-end system that features the Fiery Accelerated System Technology (FAST) RIP, which processes PDF files up to seven times faster than before. More than an RIP, the proServer provides a high performance colour management workflow, supports FOGRA PSD Print Check and is compatible with more than 540 printers from numerous major manufacturers.

According to Mitch Konstantinovic of Kamset, a UK based print shop that is among the very first companies to upgrade to Fiery proServer 6, "the Fiery proServer is much, much faster than other RIPs. It removes the great frustration of having a lot to print and watching the printer idling. FAST RIP is a complete game-changer."

Packz provides powerful PDF editing capabilities

Kodak says its Packz Professional PDF Editor offers packaging workflow customers an easy-to-use, high performance option for the rapid handling of complex files for large packaging and label jobs.

With its multi-core, multi-threading 64-bit architecture, running under OS-X and Windows, Packz is not limited by the performance constraints of other plug-in packages. The software provides a complete set of prepress and editing tools, such as trapping, white underprint facilities, separation handling, barcode creation and recognition, plus the formation of dynamic information panels and marks. The operator also has the use of quality assurance tools, while optional features include tabular and nested step-and-repeat, 3D visualisation and warping facilities.

Packz has been designed for easy and quick manipulation of native PDF content and maximum performance. In addition to Kodak's Prinergy workflow for packaging, it has been added to all of the company's Unified Workflow Solutions,

A brighter future with ColorProof 5.6

The latest release of GMG's ColorProof 5.6, proofing software aims to help users who print with optically brightened media to achieve colour consistency.

It also has added features to connect and work even better with prepress workflows, and operate more efficiently with RIPs and printers. For example, print facilities with existing systems in place can now use a new hotfolder interface system (API) to easily plug ColorProof 5.6 into their workflows.

Most significant for proofing accuracy is the new solution for optically brightened media. Until recently, measuring devices and the light in viewing booths had not been subject to any standards regarding how they measured or illuminated print media that contains optical brightening agents (OBAs) to increase the 'whiteness'.

With the recent revisions of those ISO norms and eventually the updated ISO 12647-2:2013, several changes have been made to address the colour matching problems caused by OBA enhanced media. Reflecting these changes, ColorProof 5.6 provides new proof standards, full support of the new M0/M1/M2 measuring conditions, and the new enhanced proof paper GMG ProofPaper semimatte 250 OBA to achieve highest quality and a good proof-to-print match.

Alwan and Goss to boost Vpak's packaging credentials

Goss International has formed a strategic co-operation with graphic software provider Alwan Color Expertise that will ensure repeatable colour accuracy for Goss Sunday Vpak press users across all applications including labels, carton and board, and flexible packaging printing.

Managing director Mike D'Angelo says Goss has identified a pressing need for colour consistency standards within the packaging sector. "This is particularly critical when using special ink formulations and substrates that have been specified by brand-owners, often with little regard for the technical challenges involved. In response," he states,"we have identified Alwan as the perfect fit for Goss, complementing our own product design expertise with their established ISO development credentials".

As a result of the new co-operation, customers for the Goss Sunday Vpak series will now benefit from a complete turnkey package printing solution including hardware, software, installation, training and ISO certification. Software solutions provided will include on-press colour matching, press calibration, and print proofing and verification, all of which are available for CMYK and extended gamut printing, spot colour and HiFi colour production.

Real-time packaging design visualisation in 3D

IC3D Suite - billed as the world's first 3D real-time packaging simulation and design application that combines multiple packaging disciplines in one product - is now available in Europe through Four Pees.

Developed by Carton Edge Software in the US, IC3D Suite is said to reduce significantly the time and money spent to create 3D packaging visualisations. As one application it can be used for all different kinds of packaging designs, including cartons, flexibles, bottles, and store visualisation.

"Where many other 3D applications require a specialised, dedicated 3D artist, any artwork operator can use IC3D Suite," it is claimed. It allows 2D artwork to be directly imported from Adobe Illustrator and mapped onto 3D models as a base artwork or label. When the design is done, high resolution images, PDF proofs for mark-up or videos can be exported to share with colleagues and customers. IC3D Suite models can also be exported to be printed on 3D printers for prototyping.

Nick Gilmore, CEO at Creative Edge, explains: "IC3D Suite is amazingly easy to use for anyone who knows Adobe Illustrator or Creative Suite. At the click of a finger you can see what a product will look like in various environments with different lighting conditions."

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