Lower Total Area Coverage Is Acceptable and Offers Big Savings, VIGC Finds

VIGC’s total area ink coverage test forms.

TURNHOUT, BELGIUM—Oct. 20, 2011—Excessive total area coverage (TAC) for deep blacks could be costing the global print industry hundreds of million of Euros, according to the results of a study by the Flemish Innovation Centre for Graphic Communication (VIGC). The long-held belief in the industry is that the TAC should be between 320 and 360 percent, but the VIGC investigation revealed that 260 percent, or even 220 percent, is more than adequate, as long as the conversion is carried out with the correct profiles.

According to Eddy Hagen, director of the VIGC, “We wanted to find out how low you can go in terms of maximum ink coverage before you see an unacceptable difference. The final result was amazing. The old truth—that you need between 320 and 360 percent TAC—is not borne out, provided you convert colors correctly.”

Hagen contends that the possible savings are huge. “The cost of ink represents around 2-5 percent of the cost of the printed material. So imagine that if on the basis of this investigation a company can reduce its ink consumption by 10 percent, we’re talking about saving more than €6 million to €15 million here in Belgium alone. And when you apply this on a global level, the figures are even more impressive.

“The turnover of the print industry worldwide is estimated at more than €400 billion, so if you apply the lower TAC principle on this level, the savings equates to more than a €1 billion. Plus, being more economical with basic materials in this way would contribute to more sustainable production and would be better for the environment,” Hagen says.

Several VIGC consultants with expertise in different areas worked on the project. Fons Put, senior innovation consultant, relates, “We have aided a lot of printing companies to reach the ISO 12647-standard these past years. For some time, we have included a specially developed test patch in the press trials to look for the optimum black. The experience that we have accrued in all these tests has led to a good idea of what the ‘magic combination’ is.”

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