Upgrades to Durst Rho Support P-O-P Graphics Production

Automated spot-color matching and support for digital die-cutting

Big Picture

As the installed base of flatbed printers using UV-curable inks continues to grow, equipment manufacturers such as Durst are using customer feedback to refine equipment features for the specific types of production workflows in which they are being used. Currently, 80 Durst Rho 160 flatbed/printers are in use around the world"?many at the same sites that use one or more of the 800 Durst Lambda photo printers that have been installed to date.

The Rho 160 is a production-grade combination roll-feed and flatbed wide-format inkjet printer that uses UV-curable inks to image to boards, sheets or roll media up to 62 in. wide and up to 1.58 in. (40mm) thick. Although the Rho 160 is being used for many different types of production requirements, many units are being primarily being used to produce P-O-P displays, trade-show graphics, and other types of exhibits. Like other printers that use UV-curable inks, the Durst Rho 160 eliminates the number of steps involved in producing durable display graphics on rigid materials. Images coming out the press don't have to mounted or laminated.

As Durst Dice America president Art Shufelt points out, the productivity of a large-format digital-printing system should never be measured by throughput speeds alone. Productivity is also determined by the time required to prepare jobs for printing, the speed at which files can be RIP'd, and the time involved in converting a printed image into a sellable display graphic. That's why one of the core strengths of the Durst Rho 160 is its proprietary UNIX-based software which provides for fast operation with minimal hard-disk usage. The software's patented image-processing features include on-the-fly pixel interpolation/scaling, dithering, color, density, contrast and sharpening corrections, and cropping. This means operators don't have to create additional printing files in order to output prints of different sizes at maximum resolution. It also doesn't require files to be re-RIP'd each times a change is applied.

At a recent sign show in the UK, Durst Phototechnik AG demonstrated several new software features for the Durst Rho 160, including a new image-processing function that makes it possible to produce lengths of repeated images, without any joins, gaps, or splices in the repeating image. This feature is useful is the production of wallcoverings or backdrops featuring company logos.

Other new features make it easier and faster to produce glossy or matte-finished graphics, digitally die-cut display graphics with many of the spot-colors used by buyers of P-O-P display graphics. These features will also be showcased when Durst Dice America demonstrates the Rho 160 at the Graph Expo Show in Chicago, IL from Sept. 28-Oct. 1 and the SGIA/DPI show in Atlanta, GA from Oct, 15-18.

Integrated color-management system with automatic spot-color conversion: To make it faster and easier to accurately reproduce specified spot colors, Durst's software now includes ICC profiles to automatically convert colors from client-supplied PostScript, EPS, PDF, TIFF, TIFF/LZW, BMP and JPEG files. The software also makes it possible to generate and save additional profiles as needed for use with various types of media. The RIP eliminates the "spray and pray" method of matching the spot colors commonly used in P-O-P promotions for branded products by independently and automatically converting Pantone?-specified spot colors to the closest possible match within the gamut of the ink-and-media combination used for the job.

Software module for MGE cutting systems: Many producers of P-O-P graphics are using digital printing devices in conjunction with the i-cut? digital die-cutting systems from Mikkelsen Graphic Engineering (MGE). Now, any job printed on either the Durst Rho 160 or Durst Lambda photo imager can be automatically cut with the MGE i-cut system because the software that drives the Rho and Lambda can automatically print registration marks and die lines. This eliminates the time-consuming extra step involved in manually generating cutting information. When used in conjunction with MGE's new automated material-handling system, production runs of one to 1000 graphics on rolls, sheets, or foamboards can be handled with limited operator intervention.

Switch between glossy and matte finishes: Durst's new software also includes a feature that enables users to switch print modes to achieve either a glossy or matte finish. The glare-reducing matte print mode should be used for graphics that will be displayed under bright lights. The glossy print mode boosts the vibrancy of the colors and provides greater density (Dmax) for graphics that will be backlit.

At its two factories in Brixen, Italy and Lienz, Austria, Durst makes digital products for the photographic, graphic and prepress markets. In addition to the Rho 160, Durst makes Lambda medium- and large-format digital photo printers, the Theta 50 high-speed Lambda lab, the Sigma high-performance 4- x 5-in. film scanner, the Epsilon 30 LED photo printer, the Preparation Station to control and monitor one or multiple devices from one workstation, and the Durst Autocutter 32/62 XY automatic print finisher. Durst Dice America, based in Rochester, NY, is a manufacturer, marketer and service provider of digital imaging equipment. In addition to Durst products, they offer DDA Zeta high-speed, high-volume laser photo printer and the DDA Cheetah RIP server. (Durst Dice America: 585-486-0340; www.durstdice.com)

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