Quality vs. Vanity
Then there's digital prepress, which is far superior to film-based prepress … period. Digital formats have virtually eliminated bad registration, not only within an image, but particularly from opposing corner pages on a plate.
Sharper, cleaner dots were created and allowed presses to step up inline screen quality. When most printers used a 133-line screen as the standard for coated web papers, they are now using 150, creating much finer images.
Advancements in press technologies have also improved the quality of high-speed printing. To minimize press variances, many printers are now implementing closed-loop color (CLC) systems. With increased press speeds and larger web widths, CLCs have become necessary to maintain color consistency, as they significantly reduce the subjectivity of color accuracy and deliver consistent color integrity throughout the run.
CLCs use color videocamera technology to measure density at various points, identify necessary color adjustments and automatically make them. Once color is adjusted and approved by the customer, pressmen can lock in the targeted color. The system continually updates the pressmen, in real time, with color statistics, such as ink densities, dot gain, trapping and other information. A scanner also inspects the web during runs, and can automatically make adjustments to achieve and maintain color targets regardless of lateral and circumferential movements of the web.
The end result is a finished product that matches publishers' expectations throughout the entire run and from press to press and, if applicable, between plants.
One area of CLC that most publishers don't take advantage of is the statistical information generated during the run. To confirm the quality of runs, CLCs generate numeric and graphic reports of color-density measurements and other evaluations. This information can be customized for each publisher and, when applicable, their advertisers.
Another benefit of CLC information is that if there are press problems during the run, it shows the complete history; what, when, where and how many copies were affected.