DM screening will offer real benefits for some printers

By Andrew Tribute, Wednesday 25 April 2012

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Having followed its development over the past three years, I recently had the opportunity to evaluate Hamillroad's DM screening technology, which will be available as ECRM DMS at Drupa, running on both violet and thermal CTP plates. I studied real-life production samples produced using ECRM's Newsmatic newspaper and MAKO 400 commercial CTP systems and printed on UK newspaper printer Sharman's web offset press and on a Heidelberg SM 52 press. These showed the same jobs produced side by side using AM screening and DM screening, with the commercial printing comparisons using a 175-line AM screen.

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The work was not like the typical printed samples we see from many suppliers where difficult work such as flat tints are not being seen. The jobs printed included all types of work and were printed on coated and uncoated substrates of different weights.

In the commercial work, the quality was as good as I have seen with 400lpi AM screening, but without any of the potential moiré or colour shift problems. It was also as good as in the best FM work without the noise or production problems.

There were some real differences when compared with AM and FM screening (see ‘Key benefits’ box). So how can changing the screening approach one uses enhance your business? Firstly, the quality improvements are obvious and will allow a printer to stand out from other printers with better print reproduction. It is also easier to run the press at optimum quality and speed because with the DMS dot structure there is more control on the press, getting up to colour quicker and being more stable once at colour. Makereadies are faster and with less waste than with AM or FM screening, while inaccuracies in registration are also more forgiving than with AM screens where poor registration can turn clear-centred rosettes into dot-centred rosettes resulting in colour shifts. Another important benefit is that DMS achieves significant ink savings over conventional screening. These can be up to 20% without even having to use ink saving systems and without losing any quality.

ECRM DMS has real opportunities for improving both commercial and newspaper printing. The output for newspaper printing that I have seen shows some of the best halftone, flat tints, vignettes and spot colours printed by CMYK on newsprint substrates. It will allow newspaper printers to print higher quality newspapers or new products using their existing equipment. In the commercial print market the quality of output allows printers to produce higher quality printing more efficiently with lower print costs.

Once newspaper and commercial printers look at what can be achieved using ECRM DMS screening with existing violet or thermal systems, or new ECRM CTP systems and their current presses, they are likely to reach the same opinion as I have concerning the benefits of this new technology. It may not be one of the new high technology printing systems that will be the main attraction at Drupa, but it may be the technology that can show the most immediate and lowest cost investment for commercial and newspaper printers to improve their businesses.

To read PrintWeek's Briefing on this subject, click here

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