Star product: Heidelberg Prinect Image Control

By Noli Dinkovski, Friday 15 July 2011

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The latest offline Speedmaster-dedicated spectrophotometer ramps up the speeds.

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Heidelberg Prinect Image Control

When was Prinect Image Control launched and who is it aimed at? Heidelberg’s Prinect Image Control spectrophotometer first appeared in 2000. Heidelberg announced the arrival of Image Control NG (Next Generation) at Ipex 2010, dropping the NG part of the name a few months later. Image Control can work with any Speedmaster press from the 52 right up to the XL 105. Heidelberg product and market manager Gernot Keller believes many first-generation users will consider upgrading because "the new platform provides a high-resolution scanning possibility, which allows for more interesting features in the future". So far there has been one UK installation – at Leicester-based Streamline Press in May.

What are its main features? In addition to the print control strip, Image Control can also analyse and use LAB values directly from the printed image to control the ink zones. Keller says this minimises colour fluctuations across large print runs and repeat jobs, as well as in single printed images. The spectrophotometer can manage up to four presses online and serves as the quality control centre for both the pressroom and pre-media. It can be fully integrated with Prinect workflow.

What’s its USP? According to Keller, Prinect Image Control is the only spectrophotometer on the market able to measure a complete sheet. He claims other systems measure and control using the print control strip only. "Image Control identifies the type and position of both print control strips and mini spots automatically," he says. "Mini spots provide more detailed information on the print process than just print control strips can."

What enhancements have been made in this latest version? The latest version has a much higher spectral image measurement resolution and is more user-friendly. "High-end" scanning and image spectrophotometers have replaced the previously used light multiplexer. There is also more automation, thanks to new operating software called Setup Assistant. Setting up with pre-press data is now faster, and searching for solid-tone control areas in the printed image can now be done automatically.

How quick is it and what’s the quality like? Image Control can measure a complete sheet with 50m LAB values in 20 seconds. The first-generation Image Control is able to measure 166,000 LAB values in 30 seconds, so it’s quite a noticeable difference. In addition, Prinect’s ability to automatically identify the type and position of the print control strips and mini spots saves around five seconds per every print control strip/mini spot in comparison to manual positioning. There is also no need for a second measurement run during makeready, which also saves around 25 seconds.

How easy is it to use? Keller says Setup Assistant has a similar look and feel to the Prinect Press Center operating software, and is operated via a 19in touchscreen. Setup Assistant comes with an integrated direct help function, which the operator can activate in Prinect Press Center as support.

What training and level of service support can users expect? Installation takes no more than a day, while training can be up to a further four days, depending on whether the customer has any experience. Although Keller says the system is now "much simpler, easier to understand and more reliable for the user", he still recommends follow-up training with "accompanied production" three months after installation.
 
How much is it? Image Control will set you back around £150,000. Keller says this is a similar price to the previous version, but individual requirements, such as the number of presses it will connect to, the additional software packages and integration into Heidelberg’s Print Colour Management software will impact the final price.


SPECIFICATIONS
Availability: Speedmaster 52, 74, XL 75, 102, CD 102, CX 102, XL 105
Max no of presses it can link to: four
Speed: 200mm/s
Price: around £150,000
Number of controllable colours on each side of the sheet: 12
Min size of measurement field in print control strip: 3.25x4mm
Contact: Heidelberg UK, 0844 892 2010, www.uk.heidelberg.com

ALTERNATIVES
KBA
DensiTronic Professional is an offline, closed-loop measuring and control system, which is able to measure not only ink densities of up to 12 colours at a speed of 1,000 measurements per second in the control strip, but also spectral and colourmetric values within any specified area of the printed sheet.
Max no of presses it can link to: three KBA Rapidas
Speed: 200mm/s
Price: £69,000 approx (depending on size of press)
Contact: KBA UK 01923 819922 www.kba.com

Komori PDC-SII
This offline system boasts Real Time Measurement and Auto Look Ahead Sensing to automatically locate the colour bar. It supports ICC profile creation from scan data and runs under an SQL database for custom reporting and networking. Dynamic Polarization allows polarised density and unpolarised colour to be read in one scan.
Max no of presses it can link to: press independent
Speed: 67mm/s
Price: around £55,000
Contact: Komori UK 0113 823 9200 www.komori.com

Manroland: The Roland InlineColorPilot
With the Roland InlineColorPilot, following measurement, the colour will be controlled within 40 sheets. This inline system is very low maintenance, says Manroland - within the unit, air cushions blow away any dust or spray particles around measuring heads – and the control strip location is flexible resulting in less wastage.
Max no of presses it can link to: one
Speed: 250mm/s
Price: £120,000
Contact: Manroland GB 0208 685 5967, www.manroland.co.uk


USER VERDICT
"Both we and our customers will benefit greatly from the number of advancements the latest version of Image Control offers. In fact, we wonder how we ever got by without it"        
Alan Squire, managing director, Streamline Press

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