Guido Maes Printingdeluxe (Commercial Printer)
Breaking the Quality Barriers
Serving clients in the fashion industry requires exceptional quality reproduction, which is exactly the speciality of this company, located in Ghent, Belgium. GMPD needed a way to achieve the highest possible quality and at the same time increase productivity for their 9 employees. The :Xcalibur 45 with :Sublima screening technology allows GMPD to reach 340 lpi with no extra effort on press or in prepress.
Printer Finds Ways of Making the Best Better
When you serve the high fashion industry, there is no such thing as good enough. In fact, what others may classify as high quality can often be rejected by the fashion house. There is a reason for this. The catalogues and gallery-quality brochures produced by Guido Maes PrintingDeluxe (GMPD) are what fashion buyers use to make their seasonal selections. Seeing the intricate weave of a fabric or noticing the most delicate topstitch is essential to their decision making. And they won't tolerate inconsistencies. As a result, fashion houses look for printers who are willing to push the quality envelope. It has been this type of demanding client that has made GMPD relentless in its pursuit for perfection.
One of its earlier means of achieving higher quality was stochastic screening. The FM (frequency modulated) screening technology freed GMPD from the tyranny of the rosette. Using variably spaced microdots, the screening delivered photographic quality. The problem was that the company was still running a computer-to-film workflow. Transferring the microdots -especially in the 5% tonal range- from film to plate without any loss was difficult. It required extra work in prepress and very often on press to achieve the desired quality level. The company moved to computer-to-plate to solve this problem. Impressed with the precision accuracy of HD-CtP and the GLV (Grating Light Valve) laser technology, GMPD invested in the :Xcalibur 45 thermal platesetting system.
Understanding what the printing company was trying to achieve, Agfa offered GMPD an opportunity to beta test its new screening technology, :Sublima. According to Katrien Maes, managing director, :Sublima has allowed GMPD to achieve new quality levels. When using the new screening technology for the first time, GMPD technicians had to run a compensation curve based on the dot gain of the presses. This allowed the :Sublima software to determine the appropriate dot sizes at various screen rulings. Once this was done the values were locked into memory and would never need adjustment again.
:Sublima uses a unique combination of AM (amplitude modulation) and FM screening, to deliver the equivalent of four different line screens 210, 240, 280 and 340 lpi. What Katrien Maes appreciates most about the technology is its intelligence and its simplicity. The software decides which screen -AM or FM- to use within a given image. It takes the press characteristics into account so it can hold any size dot. And yet, it is remarkably easy to use, requiring no extra effort in prepress or on press. "It increases productivity, says Katrien Maes, "as most of the plates are perfect and ready for press, and if we do have to remake a plate, it takes only 15 minutes."
GMPD's technicians have also learned how to achieve the best results from every application of :Sublima. Recycled paper, for instance, works best printing at 210 resolution. While translucent paper -which used to require 133 lpi- can take a line screen of 280 with :Sublima. They choose 210 for grainy originals and 240 for those that are just plain bad. For down-scaled images they print at 340 to retain the details. "High-density subjects always required extra work," says Lieve Maes, prepress and planning manager. "Not with :Sublima. It holds and reproduces every detail." In the fashion world, there is no avoiding contrasting patterns and textures. Moirés are practically unavoidable. ":Sublima solves this problem as well," says press manager Oswald Deckmyn. "And solids or tints created from 4-colour process print like spot colours." Other GMPD customers include jewellery and interior design companies -all of whom appreciate the ability to capture detail, avoid moiré and match spot colours accurately. "Our clients love it," says Katrien Maes.
Katrien Maes laughs when she tells the story of a client who was swept away by the incredible detail of the fabric. "The only problem was that the detail was so fine, you could see the stubble on the model's freshly shaven legs, which was not visible even in the printed photograph. So we had to go back and filter it out in Photoshop. But these are problems I don't mind having." Another problem used to occur when GMPD received colour proofs with a job. "Most clients wanted you to match the proofs, which usually looked better than the printed sheet," says Katrien Maes. "With :Sublima, the final printed image looks better than the proof."
:Sublima uses a patented technology known as XM (Cross Modulated) to achieve line-screen rulings of up to 340 lpi (lines per inch). It combines the benefits of AM (Amplitude Modulated) screening, which are smooth gradations and highly controllable midtones, with the benefits of FM (Frequency Modulated) screening-fine detail rendering in shadows and highlights and continuous-tone like reproduction. It aligns FM dots along AM paths and replaces AM dots at the precise point where the AM dot can no longer be held on a specific press. The result is a smooth transition from one mode to the other with no visible crossover.
:Sublima also takes press characteristics into account so that it will never produce a dot the press cannot hold. As a result, every detail gets printed. Process tints, fine lines, even delicate typefaces print like solids using four-colour process. Flesh tones are perfectly smooth and colour accurate.
Because :Sublima can hold the tiniest microdot on press, enlarging or reducing images have no effect on quality or the ability to sustain details. This also widens the variety of papers that you can use at high line rulings-from high-gloss coated stocks to translucent vellums and newsprint.