Digital and Offset Printing: Seeking Workflow Oneness
Unified Workflow is a concept that Kodak has been championing for some time now. It has been carried over as branding for the production automation and color management solutions the company offers for digital and offset environments. ColorFlow Software is a core component that provides color matching of original files to digital and offset presses. It is designed to be used in conjunction with the Prinergy workflow, an APPE- and JDF-based product line that was extended this spring with a model configured specifically for digital environments—Prinergy Digital.
Along with connecting to the Agfa workflow, HP Indigo presses can integrated with a Kodak workflow via the HP SmartStream Product Pro print server. Earlier this year, HP introduced another form of process integration by achieving what is said was the first-ever GRACoL (General Requirements for Applications in Commercial Offset Lithography) certification of digital production presses. Through a two-day process offered by the company, HP Indigo 5000, 5500 and 7000 models can be certified as meeting this specification for color printing.
GLS Cos., an offset and digital printing operation based in Brooklyn Park, MN, was the first printer to implement the capability. While the solution is designed to provide proof-to-press matching on an HP Indigo press, GLS reported that the certification process also enabled it to hold more consistent color during a digital press run and improved its ability to match output from the HP Indigo 5000 press to its Heidelberg sheetfed presses. The shop frequently incorporates digital components into a larger direct mail package and already used GRACoL (as well as G7) for its offset work.
According to the IDEAlliance organization, the impetus for the development of G7 was the frustration expressed by print buyers when receiving proofs and prints that had matching dot gain measurements, but clear visual differences. They were asking for metrics that more closely relate to the visual appearance of a printed image. The G7 method focuses on neutrality and tonality as key metrics for process control to achieve a similar printed appearance across the full range of output devices.