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Feb 1, 2007 12:00 AM
A few years ago, making inkjet proofs at PBM Graphics (Durham, NC) was an exercise in frustration. “We had to continuously calibrate the printers because the inks drifted,” recalls Wayne Bailey, corporate prepress manager. “If you output a proof, read it an hour later and then again the next day, [you would find] the proof had continued to cure and change color, and your delta Es would continue to move. It wasn’t a stable proof.”
Remote proofing didn’t seem like a practical proposition. After all, if Bailey, a color expert with almost 30 years of graphic arts experience, struggled to get consistent results, what chance did PBM’s customers have?
But in the latter half of 2006, PBM entered a new inkjet proofing era with a Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) (Barcelona, Spain) Z2100 printer and GMG Americas’ (Hingham, MA) ColorProof software for contract-quality proofing. Bailey uses three adjectives to describe the new setup: speedy, stable and self-calibrating.
PBM hasn’t had to adjust the GMG software or the Z2100 printer since the installation. Bailey is particularly pleased with the built-in Gretag EyeOne spectrophotometer. “Because the GMG and Z2100 self-calibrate, I can put the solution at a client site and they don’t have to be color gurus; the system will take care of itself. That’s a beautiful feature.”
Bailey cites an additional remote proofing enabling factor: The GMG software enables them to control the printer via the Web. PBM customers can install the Z2100 with minimal software, and the system is remotely monitored and managed from PBM’s offices.
Bailey played an unusual role in the design process for the Z2100. Several years ago, he joined a group of about a dozen U.S. and European users to meet with HP’s Barcelona-based hardware and software engineers. Over the next two years, there were many followup e-mails, phone calls and some subsequent trips to HP’s Palto Alto, CA, facility and back to Barcelona.
“We worked with representatives from the graphics industries to better understand their needs and workflow issues,” says David McDowell, HP large-format segment manager. “This collaboration is the largest one we’ve done and the start of a new way for product development.”
According to McDowell, top user issues included inconsistent color and accuracy, color management complexity and lack of control. “They’ve also told us they have requirements for durability and longevity as well as increasingly complex, fragmented workflows.”
When HP’s engineers asked Bailey about his proofing priorities, he knew exactly what he wanted: a printer with an embedded spectrophotometer. It was a popular request among other attendees. “I can’t say it was all my idea,” says Bailey. “This was a collaborative effort with many smart people involved.” GMG was the first available RIP for the Z2100; it is now offered with Colorbyte, EFI, Kodak, Oris and ONYX solutions.
Bailey wasn’t familiar with GMG but the printers he met during his trips to Barcelona were. “Early on, it became clear to me that in Europe, GMG was the top player for front-end RIPs. At the workshops, it was all I heard about.”
Regarding the GMG installation at PBM, Bailey says, “The trainers were excellent—they came to install the software at 8 a.m., and we were outputting proofs before noon. We haven’t skipped a beat since. It’s very user-friendly.”
A two-sided proofing solution is next on Bailey’s wish list. But for now, he has no complaints. “When we output the proof and read it with the spectrophotometer, it’s the same two hours later as tomorrow or next week. HP did what we asked asked. It’s very satisfying to have been involved and seen the end result.”
Founded in 1984, GMG (www.gmgcolor.com) is a privately owned software company based near Stuttgart, Germany, with offices around the world. The company has more than 8,500 systems in use at ad agencies, prepress houses, offset printers and international gravure printers.
Jim Summers, president, GMG Americas, says the company is gaining greater recognition since it established a U.S. presence about three years ago: “We’re not a household name in the United States, yet, as we are in Europe, but people are starting to recognize the name from leading customers, the IPA Shoot-Out, trade shows and other events. We have a reasonable number of dealers and good technical support.”
While GMG’s ColorProof product has supported remote proofing for over 10 years, Summers says, the HPZ2100 and GMG combination breaks new ground: “The printer’s customer doesn’t have to take any responsibility for the measuring device. And the graphic arts service provider can easily guarantee the exact calibration point and accuracy of each system and proof out in the field. That’s the big change.”
PBM Graphics, Inc., is a privately held, full-service printing and fulfillment services company headquartered in Research Triangle Park, NC. Founded in 1983, PBM has just over 800 employees and occupies more than 500,000 sq. ft. In 2006, PBM added a six-unit, 16-page Komori 38S, the first U.S. installation of this press. Look for more details in our April 2007 Web Offset issue. See www.pbmgraphics.com.
About the ink
HP’s pigment-based Vivera Inks are formulated to produce a broad color gamut, rich blacks and neutral grays on a wide variety of media. The inks are formulated with an HP exclusive pigment dispersion technology—Electrosteric Encapsulation Technology (EET). EET, in combination with HP’s proprietary ink vehicle design, reportedly results in inks that form a smooth film.
Katherine O’Brien is the editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at KOB@americanprinter.com.