PAPER IND. COPES WITH’DIGITAL REVOLUTION’
PAPER IND. COPES WITH’DIGITAL REVOLUTION’
2005-01-31 at 9:30:00 am #9980
Paper Industry Copes With ‘Digital Revolution’
The Yin and Yang of Printing: Digital and Traditional Presses Working in Harmony. Digital technology has been an unexpected boon for some paper manufacturers.
For the paper industry, the “Digital Revolution” turned out to be more of a merger than the hostile takeover that was once predicted. In fact, digital technology has been an unexpected boon for some paper manufacturers, who discovered that the enhancements and improvements made for the digital industry worked equally well for traditional offset printing.
Throughout the evolving digital trend, premium printing papers have kept pace and remain the best choice of papers to use — in any application. By using the same premium papers for both digital and traditional offset platforms, companies can further streamline the printing process. There is less time wasted sifting through paper swatches, which means faster, easier printed communications.
Digital and Traditional Offset: The Yin and Yang
Much like the Yin and Yang, digital and traditional offset printing are dependent opposites that inextricably work together, with their respective presses often running side-by-side in many print shops. As anyone who has worked with digital technology can vouch, it often handles jobs in ways that traditional presses can not, such as keeping notoriously cost-prohibitive short-run projects affordable. And, for making last-minute changes to a printing job such as updating figures, fixing typos or correcting mistakes in punctuation, nothing beats digital. Period.
The particulars of the printing job may determine which press is used, but fortunately, the job does not determine which paper is best to use. Yet, that decision is still an easy one.
For the highest quality digital printing, use papers with the following characteristics:
• Superior formation — or high uniformity of paper fibers. This results in an even, smooth surface. It may be the best predictor of which products will work well in digital presses.
• Strict control of moisture and resistivity — or a measure of electrical charge in the paper. These two important characteristics can be tightly controlled at the paper mill. Resistivity, which correlates to moisture content, affects how the toner adheres to each sheet. Average moisture content should range from 4 to 4.5 percent.
• Proper basis weight and stiffness. The paper must be somewhat stiff — a characteristic controlled by weight and caliper — to run smoothly.
• High opacity. Since the amount of ink on the surface can be heavy, high opacity is best. This will help prevent show through, especially when both sides are printed.
Paper sizes made specifically for digital. Paper must be cut just right for today’s processes. Leading digital presses take the following size papers:
• Heidelberg Quickmaster — 12×18, 13 3/8 x18 1/8, 19×25 and 20×26
• Xeikon — Rolls in 12 ½ and 19.7 widths
• Indigo — 12×18 sheets are available with the sapphire treatment
• Xerox Docutechs, copiers and laser and ink jet printers — 8 ½ x11, 11×17 and 12×18
Responding to requests for new sizes to enable full bleeds and compatibility between equipment suppliers is an important requirement for digital paper suppliers
Scripting. Xeikon prequalifies paper with a scripting process. The scripting process assigns characteristics to the press and paper to ensure printing performance.
Why Smooth Finish Premium Papers?
Smooth finish premium papers have long been the “go to” papers for companies looking to create a professional identity. They are perfect for letterhead, business proposals, newsletters and more. Such a legacy creates the added benefit of prestige, leaving a memorable impression.
Smooth finish premium papers offer outstanding print fidelity and dramatic printing contrast to create exceptionally sharp images. A range of colors is available, including brilliant whites, to highlight the printed image. Most brands come with a performance guarantee to help meet today’s high expectations.
Just as digital presses complement traditional offset printing, using smooth finish premium papers helps enhance the quality of today’s emerging technology.
Here are a few suggestions for using smooth finish premium papers in digital processes:
Trim. Paper must be trimmed precisely with clean cuts and in-square, to avoid misfeeds and other paper problems. Buying paper that is sized right at the mill eliminates the need to trim, as well as problems with dust and excess waste.
Package. Store the paper in the packaging as it is received from the mill. Do not open the paper until it is ready to be used. If the paper will have multiple print processes, it should be repackaged. A tight shrink wrap could bend or curl the corners and is not recommended.
Sample. A short trial of the selected paper is recommended prior to starting a major printing project.
The rise of digital may take some time to realize its full potential. Although the Digital Revolution never overthrew the offset printing industry, digital presses have a page, err, leg up on the competition. The latest digital presses eliminate the need for film, plates and make-readies. We can only speculate on how much digital technology ultimately will affect the paper and printing industries. At least, it is good to know the products we already rely on are the products for today’s and tomorrow’s technology — in all the ways we print.