CTP and digital proofing: a pair of inseparable technology combinations

Digital proofing, as the name suggests, is based on a digital prepress system. In the prepress design and production process, the page graphic information is handled in accordance with the printing production standards and specifications. The digital output system is used to directly output the color sample, ie, data is used. The original directly outputs the print proofs. Now the most common digital printing technology is to use a large-format color inkjet printer as an output device, which directly outputs and prints color proofs, which are used as the basis for the final printing and printing.

CTP technology is short for Computer to Plate. In short, this kind of technology is to output the graphic and text information produced by the prepress design directly to the printing plate material through relevant equipment. The computer-to-plate technology is a general term for a wide range of technologies. Regardless of whether it is offset printing (gravure printing), gravure printing, letterpress printing, or screen printing, there is a corresponding computer-to-platemaking technology. However, in the actual printing industry, CTP technology generally refers to the direct computer-to-plate making of offset printing. The CTP technology mentioned in this article also refers specifically to direct computer-to-plate making of offset printing.

Digital proofing and CTP technology depend on each other

Digital proofing and CTP technology are two technologies developed independently, but the common characteristics are bound to bind the two technologies together. In particular, the application and popularization of CTP technology has greatly promoted the development of digital proofing. Digital proofing can exist independently as a technology. However, if CTP technology is to be developed, it must rely on the help of digital proofing. The reason is very simple. The result of CTP technology is the printing plate. However, it is impossible to know the final printing effect by simply looking at the printed version. Because the CTP technology eliminates the intermediate medium in the process of making plates, namely film, it is impossible to use the film to print the prints like the traditional plate making process. So how do you know what exactly is the final printed product? There is only one method, that is, the use of digital proofing to complete the proofing, sampling and recovery work. Some people may ask, is it not possible to use the CTP platemaking mechanism version directly to proofer proofing? From the truth, of course, it is okay, but nobody will do so in terms of cost. As a result, digital proofing has become an indispensable assistant and assistive technology for CTP technology.

CTP technology + digital proofing + workflow software, together constitute a complete digital prepress plate solution.

Digital proofing

The most widely used digital proofing technology in the printing industry today is to print proofs for output devices with large-format color inkjet printers or large format color laser printers. This type of equipment is a continuous output device. Although some manufacturers try to use a color inkjet printer to simulate the printing of dots, the effect is not ideal.

In addition to the continuous adjustment of digital proofing equipment, some companies have also developed "real network" digital proofing equipment. The most representative equipment is Fujifilm's Final proof and Kodak's Approval XP proofer. But the price of such professional equipment is very expensive. Therefore, in actual digital proofing production, equipment such as large format inkjet printers is more commonly used.

The Similarities and Differences Between Digital Proofing and CTP Technology

The common ground between digital proofing and CTP technology is obvious. Digital proofing directly outputs proofs from digital files, eliminating the need for tedious links in film, printing, and printing presses; and CTP technology directly outputs plates from digital files, eliminating the need for film and printing. Whether it is digital proofing or CTP technology, it starts from the digital file and reaches the final result directly. Keeping the two as a whole is the digital prepress document that has remained unchanged throughout the process.

However, the words are simple, but it is far from being simple. First of all, although the digital files are the same digital files, the output devices are different and the output contents are different. The digital proofing device directly outputs color proofs to form a color image; the CTP device outputs printed plates with color separation dots. There are different color gamuts, different forms, different materials, and different imaging principles.

In addition, the CTP output media is still a transitional product, and it needs to be printed on the machine before it can be converted into the final print. The transmission of image information in this middle is very difficult to achieve 100% consistency. Therefore, even if the color content expressed by the printing plate image information is exactly the same as the digital proof sheet, the effect of the printed matter must be completely matched with the color proof of the digital proofing. The difficulty is very great. This is also the industry's most troublesome problem of proofing and printing mismatch.

Digital proofing, CTP cooperate with each other to achieve perfect color

Digital proofing is an analog print effect. As a customer's signature and standard for printing, the ideal goal for digital proofing is to be as close as possible to printing. In reality, most high-end color ink-jet printing systems use more than 6 colors of ink, and their color gamut is wider than the color gamut of the offset printer. Using a wide color gamut to simulate a narrow color gamut is, in principle, achievable. But to make the colors of these two different color gamuts be consistent, it is necessary to use color management software to establish a connection between two color gamuts. The method is to establish the ICCprofile file of each digital proofing device and printing machine, and the dot compensation curve of the CTP device in order to achieve the matching of two color gamuts as much as possible.

In this process, the practice is to first create the ICC profile of the offset press; then use this as the print source ICC file for the entire system to compare and adjust the printing effect of the standard printed proof and the output plate of the CTP device. CTP output dot compensation curve; after determining the CTP output dot compensation curve, the CTP output dot compensation curve is determined to re-print the plate, reprint the standard proofs, and use the spectrophotometer to perform the new generated standard proofs. Detection, data obtained using color management software to generate printed ICC Profile files; Finally, compare color and tone reduction of digital proofs and printed proofs, measure color difference between printed samples and digital samples, use software to select color correction and cycle correction, After several corrections, the purpose of the two sample colors is the same.

After such adjustments, digital connections can be established directly between digital proofing, CTP equipment and printing presses. Make digital proofing more closely fit the actual effect of printing, so that printing equipment can catch up with the color of digital proofing.

Digital proofing technology is not developed for CTP, but with CTP technology, it is necessary to use digital proofing. The cooperation of digital proofing and CTP technologies together form the key link between prepress and printing, and it also becomes the only way for the development of digital printing technology. And in the continuous development, these two kinds of technologies also continue to promote each other, and constantly achieve new beyond.

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