The st Finance Group, a commercial printing group in North and Western France, has significantly cut start-up waste and improved color consistency after upgrading two manroland Lithoman presses with Color Control System with Instrument Flight and SpectralCam from QuadTech at its BLG operation in Toul. The installation brings to eight the number of presses that have been upgraded with spectral color control technology from QuadTech by the group in the last two years. The QuadTech technology will be installed on BLG Toul’s 48-page 1460mm and 32-page 980mm manroland Lithoman 4 presses in August.
The company, whose core business is printing sales products such as brochures, catalogs and magazines, has continued to invest in the QuadTech color control technology because it has delivered significant improvements in quality consistency and productivity at three of its plants. Among their clientele are global luxury brands such as Opel, Volkswagen and Yves Rocher.
QuadTech’s Color Control System with Instrument Flight and SpectralCam controls color, solid ink density, three-color gray balance and mid-tone dot-gain—throughout the production run. The sensors detect and analyze printed micro color bars at full press speeds. Operators get a real time view of performance indicators.
SpectralCam itself measures up to 11 patches in a single image capture and provides accurate ISO/ANSI Status E and Status T density, dot gain, trap and print contrast measurements. Visual and audio alarms alert operators to out of tolerance conditions as soon as they arise. The investment has enabled the press to lock into color accuracy of about 1ΔE of the target. Moreover, the controls detect and remedy several color deviations in a 20 second timeframe. The investment in color control improvements, in combination with other enhancements such as better folding methods, has reduced start-up waste from over 3000 copies to under 2000.
System Brunner Instrument Flight Gray Balance also makes an important contribution to achieving color consistency. The color fidelity of a printed image depends on many process variables, such as ink, blanket, water, paper, ink consumption in each ink key and temperature. These variables affect the halftones of the printed reproduction and lead to visible color variations, even when the solids are consistent. Instrument Flight’s multi-dimensional color control with Gray Balance priority controls the full spectrum of process dynamics in offset printing. Instrument Flight guides the press through all “turbulences” with its analytical engine. The result is uniform color over the entire print run, including the delicate gray and tertiary tones.
The automated controls replace a manual system, whereby operators used their own eyes to judge color quality. This was a slow process, as errors were detected at a rate a maximum of one per 20 seconds. When the press ran at top speed, as many as 300 copies would be printed before detected errors could be remedied. Furthermore, the manual system was unreliable as the ability to detect errors depended on operators maintaining constant levels of concentration.
Mr. Jean-Paul Leveaux, president of st Finance, says: “Thanks to the improvements, we can confidently deliver according to the original proofs. We now have a reliable, objective, spectral control system in place to assure the highest possible results throughout the production run. By installing QuadTech’s color control technology, we have been able to raise the productivity and quality output of our printing presses, some of which are several years old, to a standard comparable with the very latest systems available today.”
Since 2010, the QuadTech systems have also been installed at st Finance’s Saint Germain de la Coudre, Bois le Roi and Gauchy operations.