Web-fed inkjet devices with UV or hybrid solvent/aqueous pigment inks are delivering amazing quality on an ever-expanding range of media. Factoring the cost of ink into your buying decision may make you think twice about going web or sheet fed.
Most inkjet applications require paper. For many reasons, compatible inkjet paper is in short supply. If you are involved in the inkjet print supply chain, or a buyer of the finished product, it is in your best interest to help clear hurdles to identify and qualify compatible papers and to communicate availability as efficiently as possible.
Does your customer want their web presence in synch with your CMYK print design?
Inkjet Tip of the Week: Some inkjet devices come with valuable cost-saving features. Here are a few to look out for:
Inkjet Tip of the Week – Use Ink Wisely.
Using a standard, default profile could be costing you money. When creating custom profiles, be sure to print profiling patch charts with different TAC settings such as 260, 240 and 220, for high, medium and low ink usage options. Print efficiently and economically based on the customer’s needs, not default settings.
Inkjet Tip of the Week: Run inkjet less & you’ll have HIGHER service costs.
Less running time means proportionally more service time with inkjet. Service time with high speed inkjet increases @ proportionally when run less than 1 full shift/day instead of 1+ full shifts per day. Learn about maintenance requirements for shut down and head purges.
Inkjet Tip of the Week: Look at Quality Sideways. After you lay those pages down and admire the depth of color you’ve achieved, or the super-crisp text, pick them up and look at them sideways. Is the paper flat or does it look like the surf’s up at Malibu? Great print quality is “dry flat” print quality without curl, waviness or mottle.
You can’t compete on cost alone.
Buying inkjet and lowering your prices won’t drive profit. Wrap inkjet with service improvement and new capabilities to drive more revenue and a higher margin.
Make Samples Demonstrate “Best Practices.” Show your customers inkjet print samples that show the best practices for design, ink coverage, image complexity and quality and use of relevant personalization. Be your own object lesson and customers will learn how to use inkjet effectively.
The price of ink and the cost of ink are different. For some applications, paying for a high-end inkjet ink can reduce drying costs, allow production on lower cost papers and streamline workflows by allowing more work to be produced on the same device. Price per liter and true cost are not the same.
Printing from the first tower allows ink twice as long to dry helping reduce roller build up and print defects in finishing.
If you are using inkjet coated or primed offset coated paper, different papers will have different porosity levels on each side of the sheet.
Before signing your inkjet deal, get the specs for power, ceiling height, load-bearing, square footage, humidity and more. You may find that changes need to be made to your environment that add cost and delay installation. Measure (at least) twice before you buy.
Inkjet Tip of the Week: Understand Total Cost of Paper to compare TCO
TCP=Cost per carton weight (delivered) + cost of priming or spot treatment + excess ink usage+ excess drying energy. Papers not formulated for inkjet often use more ink and require additional drying energy. Measure TCP to fully understand TCO – every machine/ink/paper combination is different.
Stop the (Ink) Bleeding. Check primed or inkjet coated print for color-to-color bleed/coalescence. Run test images w/ varying solid, single process & combined colors which touch or overlap. Create color areas > 4”x4” to see how ink volume of one image will spread or react to the primed/coated stock when touching another. If only printing pretty bitmap images, bleed effects can be hidden leaving print clarity surprises with solids and touching colors with hard edges.
Monitor Cross-Process Variance. Run a weekly test print showing solid color bars across the web. Include 100, 75 and 30% individual process color bars of at least 3” depth across the entire web width. Testing will show how well your paper path is controlled and identify any jet or head variation causing solid area defects.
Many finishing lines are “old fashioned” relative to inkjet devices. Get creative and optimize your physical workflow for speed, flexibility and dependability.
Create multiple profiles for the same paper to manage ink use for your client’s range of acceptable color levels. Make the profile name part of your job definition.
Don’t make designers guess about color matching or papers that work well with your press. Create tools to give designers and print buyers an objective understanding of your press quality on different media.
Dust and Downtime
Uncoated papers with uneven surface formation can generate dust. Dust can buildup on paper transports and print heads causing jet-outs, reduced print quality, increased maintenance costs and downtime. If dust concentration is very high, it can have health consequences for workers – more downtime!
More inkjet presses can now print on offset gloss – but test carefully. The ink may adhere just fine, but gloss stocks can slip more easily (especially roll-fed) so check registration of fine images and rich blacks.
Most aqueous inkjet devices will have plugging and registration issues with rich black text at 9pt or smaller. If you need fine print, test the density of plain K ink and minimize the use of CM&Y. Some OEMs offer high density black.
If you see banding in continuous solid colors, ask the designer if “mixing up” that continuous solid is possible. Adding random patterns to large solid colors makes cross process print head density shifts less visible when multiple heads across the web are used to produce the solids.
The wrong drying configuration on an #inkjet press can torture the paper without properly drying the ink. Learn about the best drying options to match your type of work, ink type and coverage.
Don’t blindly accept the DFE bundled with the press. Ask about color management, variable data and file handling features of the DFE. Consider all of your DFE options and find the best fit for your workflow.
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