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November Cover Story: Proof positive

Nov 1, 2005 12:00 AM

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Since the advent of computer-to-plate technology and digital production printing, inkjet proofing has rapidly gained popularity among commercial printers. While some still feel more comfortable with digital halftone output for their contract proofs, inkjet’s ever-improving quality and its dramatically lower costs (about one-tenth the cost of an analog or digital halftone proof) have won over many printers and their customers.

The key to achieving the best quality inkjet proof is to combine the right equipment, software and consumables to match your pressroom equipment. The following products represent the latest developments in inkjet for contract quality proofing.

Agfa expands :Grand Sherpa capabilities
Agfa (Ridgefield Park, NJ) showed the :Grand Sherpa Universal AM for the first time in North America at PRINT 05. It uses Agfa’s new line of mild solvent inks and is twice as fast as the standard :Grand Sherpa Universal. Available in 65-and 90-inch widths, :Grand Sherpa Universal AM systems produce six to 40 square meters per hour, depending on the resolution.

Agfa divides the Sherpa line’s proofing capabilities as follows:

  • Grand Sherpa: highest resolution, highest speed wide-format proofing.
  • SherpaMatic 43: high-resolution, productive, automated duplex proofing and contract proofing.
  • Sherpa 43i: high-resolution, fast contract proofing.
  • Sherpa 2i: high-resolution, manual, dual-side imposition proofing.
  • Sherpa 24: high-resolution contract proofing or remote proofing at client locations.
Grand Sherpa offers 1,440 x 1,440-dpi resolution, drop-on-demand piezo-electric inkjet technology, precision registration, multi-density ink and Agfa software. Available in 50-, 64- and 87-inch widths, it provides eight-color capacity and print speed as fast as two minutes (33 x 47-inch form at 360 dpi). The media heads adjust to accommodate media from 0.1 to 1.1 mm thick. AgfaJet Digital Proofing Base, a resin-coated inkjet paper, incorporates Agfa’s multiple-layer technology. Designed to multiply the paper’s ability to hold and reflect ink, it reportedly results in a high-quality contract proof that matches a wide variety of printing standards and presses.


Canon debuts dye-based proofer
Canon U.S.A., Inc. (Lake Success, NY) introduced the new imagePROGRAF W8400D dye-ink-based, wide-format printer at Canon EXPO 2005, held mid-September in New York. This new model complements the pigment-ink-based imagePROGRAF W8400Pg released in May 2005.

Printing up to 44 inches in width, the imagePROGRAF W8400D incorporates four-picoliter inkjet droplet size, one-inch print head density and new software. Canon’s proprietary print head technology enables production speed up to 307 sq. ft. per hour at 1,200 x 1,200 dpi. Maximum resolution is 1,200 x 2,400 dpi.


ORIS gains SWOP certification on three new Canon printers
CGS Publishing Technologies Intl. (Hainburg, Germany) has announced SWOP certification for the ORIS Digital Proofing System on the latest generation of Canon printers, including the 13 x 19-inch imagePROGRAF W2200S, the 24-inch w6400, and the 44-inch w8400. Certification was achieved with two different ink sets: Canon’s six-color pigmented inks and CGS’ recently-introduced Long-Life Extended (LLE) inks. Both certifications used ORIS PearlPROOF Publication semimatte paper.


Epson’s next generation
Epson (Tokyo) launched in May 2005 the Stylus Pro 4800, 7800 and 9800 with new Epson UltraChrome K3 ink technology. The 4800 prints images as wide as 17 inches, while the 7800 and 9800 print up to 24 inches and 44 inches in width, respectively. Epson’s new high-performance, one-inch-wide print head has 180 nozzles per channel and can achieve resolution levels up to 1,440 x 2,880 dpi with variable-size ink droplets as small as 3.5 picoliters. The 4800 can print a 16 x 20-inch, 720 x 1,440-dpi print in six minutes, 41 seconds. The 7800 produces the same quality at 24 x 30 inches in 14 minutes, 18 seconds; the 9800 at 44 x 60 inches in 42 minutes, 30 seconds.

A built-in auto head alignment function reduces setup time and automatically activates head cleaning cycles when necessary. Dual-side printing is supported.

UltraChrome K3 uses higher density pigments to increase image quality. In addition to cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan and light magenta, three levels of black are applied simultaneously.


Kodak introduces Matchprint Inkjet Proofer
Kodak’s Graphic Communications Group (GCG) (Rochester, NY) announced at PRINT 05 a new Matchprint inkjet proofing solution to replace the Creo Integris and KPG Matchprint Proofpro products. Currently, the new Epson Stylus Pro printers are supported, as well as a full line of Matchprint inkjet media and inks. The Matchprint 2610 printer will be added in December 2005, according to the company.

The new Matchprint Inkjet Proofer is the first drop-on-demand proofing solution to be based on Kodak-developed software, including screening, calibration and a new “Certified Process for Color Confirmation.” It connects directly to Kodak Prinergy and Brisque workflows.


X-Rite profiles for Epson line
X-Rite (Grandville, MI) recently announced an agreement with Epson (Long Beach, CA) to create premium RGB ICC profiles for the entire Stylus Pro line. X-Rite generates the profiles using its MonacoPROFILER 4.8 software. HP targets total customer experience
HP’s (Palo Alto, CA) Designjet 90 (18-inch) and 130 (24-inch) thermal inkjet, six-color printers apply dye-based Vivera inks for fade-resistant, photo quality proofs. The devices accept a wide range of substrates and offer optional roll feed and cutting. The Designjet 130 prints a 13 x 19-inch page in four minutes, normal mode; 6 minutes at maximum 1,200 x 2,400-dpi resolution.

At PRINT 05, HP announced the rollout of new tools and resources to improve the printing experience for users of HP Designjet wide-format printers.

New HP Designjet media: The new HP Professional Semi-gloss Contract Proofing Paper for the HP Designjet 90 and Designjet 130/30 series is a microporous, instant-dry media designed to exceed the color range requirements necessary to emulate offset and gravure printouts for ISO and SWOP standards.

Online resources: A new HP Large Format Printing Knowledge Center provides HP Designjet customers with direct online access to printing and color workflow information. A step-by-step process replicates the user’s environment by asking for information on the following categories: HP Designjet printer model, operating system, printing software (driver or RIP) and applications such as Adobe Photoshop. After coupling the input with workflow specifications, the Knowledge Center generates an illustrated, four-page PDF guide with instructions for achieving top-quality prints.


EFI takes Colorproof XF to new heights
EFI (Foster City, CA) Colorproof XF version 2.6 offers manual nesting, support for a wider variety of printers and file formats, and new Dot Creator and Fiery options, as well as JDF job ticket compatibility. The result of combining EFI’s development with the proofing expertise behind Best technology, Colorproof XF is a client/server-based proofing solution for inkjet and laser printers. EFI Colorproof XF enhancements include manual nesting, cropping, spot color definition for process colors, and support for new printers. These include the Epson Stylus Pro 7400/7800 and 9400/9800; the HP Designjet 30, 130 and 90; and the Canon imagePROGRAF W6200, W6400 and W8400.


Free handbook
EFI has published a free handbook titled, “ABCs of Proofing,” available via mail or download from

The 22-page, full-color handbook examines hardcopy proofs as well as the hardware, software and work processes required to make them effective. Soft proofing and monitor proofing also are addressed.

The new book joins EFI’s series of free books, including the “ABCs of Workflow” title pictured.

CGS debuts papers, software
CGS Publishing Technologies Intl. (Hainburg, Germany) introduced new inkjet proofing papers at PRINT 05. PearlPROOF Super, Commercial and Publication contain no optical brighteners, reportedly resulting in a proof that remains color accurate even when viewed in nonstandard lighting conditions. Current FOGRA, SWOP and GRACoL specifications were accounted for. The papers are available for 13 x 19-inch and up to 44-inch-wide inkjet printers.

Color-managed workflow: Also at PRINT 05, CGS introduced ORIS Color Server. For print buyers and creatives, the workflow includes remote hard-copy proofing and collaborative, display-based annotation and revisions using ORIS Soft Proof. Printers use ORIS Color Tuner, ORIS WebWorks and ORIS Certified Proof, as well as automation tools such as ORIS Press Matcher. See

GretagMacbeth, CGS partner for packaging printers: CGS and GretagMacbeth AG (Regensdorf, Switzerland) announced during the show that CGS’ ORIS Color Tuner directly handles N-color ICC profiles generated by GretagMacbeth’s recently-released ProfileMaker 5 Packaging software. See

MPM debuts semigloss proofing paper
At PRINT 05, Mitsubishi Imaging (MPM), Inc. (Rye, NY), introduced GF6 semigloss proofing paper. A version of MPM’s Diamond Jet GC5 proofing paper, GF6 was designed for use with Epson’s UltraChrome inks.

GF6 has a surface similar to offset printing papers and an instant-dry coating designed to deliver highly color-accurate proofs that can be handled immediately. With 92 percent brightness and 7.5-mil thickness, it’s available in 13 x 19-inch sheets and 17-, 24-, 36- and 44-inch-wide rolls. See

GMG expands ColorProof functionality
GMG (Tuebingen, Germany) introduced at PRINT 05 version 4.1 of GMG ColorProof, a color management software system providing inkjet calibration for producing digital contract color proofs matched to the printing process. Key features include:

  • Support for the Mutoh RJ8000 VLF printer, including support for Pantone Hexachrome proofing.
  • Support for the new eight-color Epson Stylus Pro 4800, 7800 and 9800 inkjet printers.
  • An expanded range of media profiles for the new Epson series, for standards including SWOP, GRACoL, PSR-ECI, 3DAP and ISO.
  • The GMG PhotoProof function, which allows users to output RGB files directly to an Epson printer using the device’s full color gamut.

Epson/GMG ColorProof solution receives SWOP certification: GMG has been granted SWOP certification for ColorProof driving Epson’s StylusPro 4800, 7800 and 9800 inkjet printers using GMG ProofPaper semimatte 250gsm.

Enovation’s new Fujifilm/Epson solutions
Enovation Graphic Systems, Inc. (Valhalla, NY) featured at PRINT 05 the cobranded Fujifilm/Epson line of Stylus Pro 4800, 7800 and 9800 inkjet devices using Fujifilm’s inkjet proofing media. Enovation is the line’s exclusive U.S. distributor, offering a variety of equipment and consumable bundles.

New proofing papers
Fujifilm introduced two new inkjet proofing media at PRINT 05, which are available from Enovation. Fujifilm Glossy and Satin Inkjet Papers have been tested to match commercial and publication standards when printed on Fujifilm/Epson Stylus Pro inkjet printers. The microporous, resin-coated paper is available in widths from 17 to 44 inches to accommodate two-, four- and eight-up applications, and is single-side ink receptive with a glossy or satin finish.


Inkjet isn’t just for proofing
At PRINT 05, in addition to a special wide-format pavilion featuring many top vendors, Kodak showed its continuous inkjet printing technology on a Muller Martini variable-size web press, and Screen demonstrated a roll-fed variable-printing inkjet printer.

Moreover, in recent months, more vendors have followed the example of Agfa’s 2004 Dotrix acquisition, with Screen (Inca), Fuji (Sericol) and HP (Scitex Vision) expanding their inkjet investments. More inkjet innovations are on the way.

Denise Kapel is managing editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at