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GATF InterTech Technology Award Recipients Announced

10 technologies selected for 2008 awards.

Big Picture

The Printing Industries of America/Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (PIA/GATF) has announced its 2008 GATF InterTech Technology Award recipients. Ten technologies were selected to receive the award, chosen from 28 nominations from 21 companies. The technology winners include the following (all comments are as reported by GATF):

Inca Onset, Inca Digital Printers Limited (www.incadigital.com): The large-format UV digital flatbed printer can handle print sizes up to 10.5 x 5-ft and achieve production throughput of 300 3 x 5-ft sheets an hour. Edge-to-edge printing allows for substrates up to "?u-in. thick and up to 22-lbs at full speed. The Onset can be equipped with a fully automatic load/unload system and is easy to run by one operator with a minimal 20-minute setup time at the start of each day. The machine identifies and remaps weak nozzles to ensure consistent quality, uses the lowest energy levels possible for UV curing, and employs linear drives to move the bed for smoother motion and better drop placement and accuracy.

Competition judges commended Inca Onset for its speed and efficiency, and they felt it had great versatility as well as the potential to challenge other printing processes.

Xaar 1001 Printhead, Xaar plc (www.xaar.com): The Xaar 1001 Printhead, used in a number of high-quality digital presses, delivers excellent drop formation and placement accuracy with outstanding operational durability. Most printheads eject ink from a small nozzle at the end, which can fail due to blockage or air bubble formation. With Xaar's Hybrid Side Shooter (HSS) technology, ink flows past the back of the nozzle so air or particles are removed from the nozzles, keeping channels primed and operational. Using XaarDOT (Drop Optimization Technology), Xaar 1001 grayscale printheads can generate up to 15 different drop sizes by combining sub-droplets fired in quick succession onto the same printed dot. This allows the 360 dpi actual resolution to produce results equivalent to 1000 dpi with far fewer nozzles, delivering a greater range of both resolutions and substrates, and a variety of print options.

The judges appreciated the Xaar 1001's faster speeds, ink savings, increased resolution, and its ability to support suspended particle inks.

Alwan Dynamic DeviceLinks, Alwan Color Expertise (www.alwancolor.com): Alwan's Dynamic DeviceLinks technology applies sophisticated color-management and quality control to standard PDF-based workflows. It evaluates the components of an individual PDF, identifying all elements--including color description and color spaces. Each object within the PDF is also analyzed for its CMYK surface and ink consumption. This 'intelligent color preflighting' ensures perfect color from any input space to any output space-all with faster makeready, stable printing, maximum economy, and minimum waste. Dynamic DeviceLinks technology powers Alwan's CMYK Optimizer family of applications, which allow prepress companies and printers to check, as well as automatically and dynamically correct, the color spaces and ink-weight characteristics of files before printing. The technology works in all print environments, including digital, gravure, and offset.

The judges praised Dynamic DeviceLinks for ink savings and noted that its ability to solve color-conversion problems for the digital press is far ahead of the competition.

EskoArtwork Neo, EskoArtwork (www.esko.com): EskoArtwork Neo is a stand-alone native PDF 1.7 viewer and editor that provides production tools to assess and edit multi-page PDF files. Because of Neo's intuitive interface, every element of the PDF--including text, images, and other graphic objects--can be positioned and reworked as if Neo were a full-blown design application, but all within the PDF file. Users also have the ability to add separations, edit text with paragraph reflow, and transform object and image content. Neo also contains an optional, interactive trapping function. Compliant with Certified PDF, this application is highly beneficial for printers that run fully native PDF workflows and need to check files as a quality control.

Neo's high points for the judges were speed, on-the-fly functionality, and the ability to build and manipulate PDFs without restriction.

MetalFX, MetalFX Technology (www.metal-fx.com): MetalFX is a printing system that creates thousands of metallic colors and effects in one pass on a five-color press. The result is a nearly unlimited selection of metallic colors without the expense of multiple spot inks. MetalFX colors are implemented at the design stage, where the designer creates artwork using the MetalFX color palettes and action sets. Regardless of the number of metallic colors specified by the designer, the MetalFX system requires only one extra ink. MetalFX silver or gold is printed first, followed by standard cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks, used in their normal manner. The transparency of the CMYK inks permits the high luster of MetalFX base inks to shine through, creating an entire spectrum of metallic colors and effects.

MetalFX impressed the judges because of the vibrancy that can be achieved in printed pieces; its affordability compared to other metallic inks or foils; and its designer-friendly capabilities.

HiFlex MIS and Web2Print, HiFlex Corporation, North America (www.hiflex.com): HiFlex MIS, including eBusiness, Office, and Factory with Webshop and Print Support use JDF to leverage total automation of procurement, estimating, production planning, order entry, and scheduling. This streamlined workflow allows individual personnel to perform multiple, integrated roles in a centralized SQL Database. HiFlex MIS is configured to a printer's specific rules and equipment. Autopilot generates production plans and JDF files dynamically for every order. These JDFs are used to automate prepress, press, and postpress.

HiFlex Webshop provides multi-brand, open/closed storefronts. Online print buyers can create print product specifications dynamically, then automatically insert orders into HiFlex MIS, saving significant administration costs. Webshop is ideal for creating print orders of all types. HiFlex Print Support is a Web-based, JDF-enabled procurement tool that streamlines communications between buyers and vendors, simplifying and speeding up the procurement and cost analysis processes for both.

Judges especially liked this JDF-Certified system's remote contact management functions and the superior JDF integration of the HiFlex MIS.

Platinum White Technology, Sun Chemical Corporation (www.sunchemical.com): Platinum White Technology ink is a low-shear, silicone-free, low-viscosity, UV flexo white ink that provides the same aesthetics as rotary screen whites with a single application. UV rotary screen white inks have long provided high opacity and brightness for package printing; however, rotary screen printers are restricted to low press speeds and sometimes borderline adhesion to many substrates. In addition, flexo or letterpress inks printed over them usually require modification for optimal wetting and adhesion.

Platinum White Technology improves on rotary screen technology by enabling increased press speeds, adhesion to many challenging substrates, overprint ability with standard UV letterpress, UV and water-based flexo inks and coatings, better color separations, faster makeready times, and reduced consumable costs. Flexo plate costs are also considerably lower than the cost of easily damaged rotary screens.

Judges noted that Platinum White Technology will have a positive economic impact on flexo printers and praised the improvements in opacity and speed offered by this ink.

Polar P.A.C.E. Cutting Systems, Heidelberg USA, Inc. (www.heidelberg.com): Through automatic loading, turning, aligning, and cutting of paper lifts without manual intervention, Heidelberg's Polar P.A.C.E. Cutting Systems allow for fast throughput with less operators while achieving high quality standards. With P.A.C.E. Cutting Systems, cutting becomes an automated process; operators are no longer fatigued from manual labor, and there is significantly less risk of injury. Benefits of the P.A.C.E. Cutting Systems include increased productivity, reduced labor costs, economic cutting, ergonomic handling, high flexibility, minimum make-ready, and minimal operator fatigue.

Judges were impressed with its fail-safe interface, ergonomic improvements for operators, and productivity and resultant labor cost savings.

Prinect Inpress Control, Heidelberg USA, Inc. (www.heidelberg.com): Prinect Inpress Control is a fully integrated device for the sheetfed press that provides inline measurement and analysis of color using spectrophotometry while the press is in full production. The system also features automatic registration control. Prinect Inpress Control enables measurement and control during makeready and production without stopping the press to pull sheets for analysis and follow-up. Measurement results (up to eight colors per side) are delivered directly to the Prinect Press Center, where any color deviation from desired standards is automatically determined and the appropriate adjustments are immediately delivered simultaneously to all printing units. This results in not only higher press utilization, but also more even and consistent quality throughout the production run. The system is available for the Speedmaster CD 74, XL 75, and XL 105 series presses.

Prinect Inpress Control was lauded by judges for its ability to allow maximum color control at full speed.

Kodak Flexcel NX Digital Flexographic System, Kodak Graphic Communications Group (www.graphics.kodak.com): The Kodak Flexcel NX Digital Flexographic System is an integrated digital flexographic prepress system consisting of an imager, plates, laminator, and workflow. It produces plates that are capable of producing consistent, predictable, and repeatable results for a full tonal range up to 300 lpi--results not currently possible with digital or analog flexographic technology, Kodak reports. The Flexcel NX System accurately and consistently images dots as small as 10 microns onto the thermal imaging layer, which is then transferred to the plate via lamination, ensuring an exact one-to-one reproduction of the dots from the layer to the plate, even for the smallest dots. The lamination process also creates stable, flat-top dots on the plate, which reduce make-ready time, improve print consistency on press, allow print jobs to stay on color, increase plate life, and provide repeatability on subsequent print runs.

Judges were impressed with the vast improvement in resolution, stability, quality, and productivity for digital flexographic platemaking.

The InterTech star awards will be presented before during the 2008 PIA/GATF Premier Print Awards Gala, October 26, in Chicago during Graph Expo .A technology review booklet showcasing all 28 of the current year's entries will be released in the fall; the booklet will also be available on www.intertechaward.com.


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