Image Test LabsTM (ITL), a division of Technology Watch, LLC, launches an image grading service for digital, toner, inkjet, offset, and flexo color printing technologies. This ground-breaking, patent-pending technology—quite different from anything ever available in the printing industry—measures the acceptance of an image rather than the image itself against a well-defined, objective list of performance parameters. It delivers people grades for any printing press, letting them see how their equipment compares to other presses in a new, intuitive way. It allows print providers to take full advantage of their existing presses, making it easier to produce printing economically—or it can prevent ill-advised used press investments.
Henry Freedman, one of the principal developers of Image Test Labs, says, "ITC is really an acceptance score or predictor for a press's output. Image measurement and standards are tricky. Rather than expecting someone to make sense of statistics like average multiple ΔE, microns, and density units, ITL assigns a simple A to F grade on the key factors of a press's performance. Anyone can understand an ITL report, very quickly and intuitively."
Before releasing its image grading service, ITL conducted over 500 hours of field testing on live plant floors and on many different devices, including digital toner presses, offset presses, wide format inkjet, and proofing systems. The company's process was reviewed by lead scientists from some of the most noted press manufacturers. However, because ITL does not provide consulting to any press vendors, it offers an independent, authoritative assessment.
George W. Stephenson, President of Stephenson Printing, Inc. says, "We have successfully run ITL grading on our offset, digital, and proofing systems. In over fifty years of production printing, I have never seen anything like the ITL image grading."
Testing is a simple process. Load the PDF target provided by ITL, print three sets on the press or imaging device you want to test, and mail two sets to ITL.
ITL does the rest. The company takes two dozen observations and measurements from the submitted output and groups them into a specially-engineered set of image attribute scores—including register, memory colors, line adjacency, addressable resolution, solids, mottle, streaks, neutrals, and facial tones, among other critical data. ITL's patent-pending algorithms interpret and process the image attributes and assign a letter grade to each one. Customers also receive a report comparing their imaging device with a composite of similar models scored by ITL.
The ITL image grading report card also pinpoints strengths and weaknesses, greatly helping to address and correct imaging issues. It can help press owners communicate effectively with service technicians.
"This is the first tool I've seen that provides a really objective report on a specific press. For people who want to see how their presses are performing qualitatively, this is it. And, if I were buying a press, I would want to see one of these. It's like a CarFax report for presses," comments Kenneth B. Chaletzky, President and CEO, Copy General.
Services include the standard ITL grading report for digital sheet-fed toner presses, wide format printing equipment, web printing, offset presses, proofing devices, or photo imaging devices. Other services include:
• PressFax – Assesses the print quality of presses for prospective sale or purchase. A customer can see what a press is capable of, before they invest in it.
• Before and After – Two test runs on a single press using the same settings and materials, but at different times. For example, if a press requires servicing, test the press before and after the service to monitor improvement.
• Head to Head – Assessment targets that compare two of the same model printers. Use it to compare one press to another, or to compare different papers or settings on a single press.
• ITL Test Pack – A set of four test runs at a reduced price.
"There are many ways ITL can really help a business. For example, our reports can help with solving performance issues with vendors. A used press buyer can demand an ITL test before committing to a purchase," adds Freedman. "Or, a print buyer in Chicago can receive an ITL press grading from an unknown printer in Dallas, offering the buyer a better indication of whether a job will be printed well. In this way, the print buyer can feel more comfortable with a supplier, which enhances the business transaction."