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Customer Case  | VA Impresores, Madrid, SPAIN  | 15 March 2012

VA Impresores

Staying One Step Ahead

Some company directors move in pace with the market. Others stay a step ahead. Fernando Álvarez is among the latter. He uses technology as a marketing tool to position his company on the leading edge. As a result, VA Impresores attracts a wide variety of enviable clients-from high-profile consumer companies to local and national government agencies. His most recent technological advance has come in the form of an advanced screening technology-Sublima XM.

With Advanced Screening Technology

VA Impresores, S.A. is a commercial printer located in Tres Cantos, just outside of Madrid, Spain. Its impressive portfolio includes everything from fine-art catalogues and annual reports to text books and technical manuals.

As a company whose reputation hinges on high quality, computer-to-plate (CtP) imaging is not new to this 22-person establishment. The company has been using it since 1998, when proprietor and managing director Fernando Álvarez decided to take on the challenge of Pantone's Hexachrome six-colour process printing. CristalRaster stochastic screening technology helped to simplify the six-colour process as well as deliver high-resolution output. By broadening the colour spectrum and producing photographic quality on press, Álvarez was able to firmly position the company as fine-art printing experts.

The company has now switched to Sublima screening technology for all its Hexachrome projects. "We loved it from the very first sheet. Now we offer both options Sublima and Cristal Raster."

Sublima employs a patented technology known as XM (Cross Modulated) screening. It aligns FM (Frequency Modulated) microdots along an AM (Amplitude Modulated) path and applies AM dots to midtones for perfectly smooth gradations. The combination retains all the benefits of AM and FM, yet it handles as easily as a 150 lpi AM screen.

According to Álvarez Sublima and Cristal Raster deliver equally high quality. However, he finds Sublima much easier to use. "It has a much wider latitude," he says, "greater tolerances. The first time we used it, we spent time establishing the colour curve for the screen. It didn't take us too much time; after three or four sets of plates, we had it all under control. At VA Impresores as we have been working with stochastic screening for quite some time. Comparably, Sublima is a walk in the park."

Álvarez uses the highest screen ruling Sublima can deliver-340 lpi. He says it requires no more effort than using a 175 lpi screen. Although Sublima allows you to apply different resolutions for various images, he recommends staying with one. It eliminates the need to do any recalibrating. To maintain a quality control and turn jobs around quickly at the same time, he has also standardised the inks and papers the company uses.

Álvarez also finds that Sublima results in lower dot gain. "A 1% variation has no effect on the press. With stochastic screening 1% variation can be 8% dot gain on press; with Sublima is imperceptible," he says.

Press operators also find they need fewer colour adjustments on press. "With stochastic very often you hear, 'reduce at the 30%, eliminate 1% in the red,' you need to do this with stochastic but not with Sublima. We also have less start-up waste and more stability on press. With Sublima, we make the same adjustments as with a conventional screen," adds Alvarez.

He sees Sublima as an additional benefit for CtP because it further reduces make ready and dot gain. "Digitally-images plates have an advantage with ink acceptance," he explains. "Conventional plates do not print at 100% until you have printed a number of sheets; the ink acceptance is not excellent. Because run lengths are shorter, say 2000 copies, you want to minimise waste. Printers use printed overrun sheets to "warm-up" the plates. With Sublima and digital plates, after the fifth impression, the plate is ready."

VA Impresores uses every means possible to save time. CIP4 ink-key settings automatically download the ink calibration from the plate to the press. And a spectrophotometer monitors the printed sheet on press to obtain the final colour adjustment.

Álvarez is as proud of the company's speed record as he is of its quality. VA Impresores recently won the bid for a 100-page book for Spanish Agricultural Department because it was able to meet the deadline with ease and at the same time provide an exceptionally high level of quality. "We have capacity to do these kinds of jobs, super-fast and in a super quality-controlled method. Our staff is very experienced, they know graphic arts," says Álvarez. To respond to the wide variety of projects, the company employs a Galileo computer-to-plate workflow.

Balancing quality with speed, and delivering it at a good price is not easy, notes Álvarez. "But I believe that if one uses the best ingredients, like in the kitchen, it takes you the same time to do it well than to do it badly. Printing is similar," he says.

About Sublima

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-color 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.

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