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  • Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

    Hi All,

    It's nice to have found this forum!

    I am looking to print a 7 ink job (CMYK + 3 spot) in the UK. This job requires Stochastic/FM screening as the inks are nearly all interacting and there's no other way I know of to avoid Moire effects.

    It's been a few years since I've printed this sort of work and I am now having real problems finding a printer who can provide this screening service. The ones I have contacted so far give a range of reactions; recoil in horror to "what's that?". Ug! I have one or two printers who have yet to respond so I live in hope.

    But my question is twofold:

    1) Why is this screening technique so uncommon? It was such a hot topic in the mid-90's. Does nobody request true Hi-Fi color jobs anymore apart from specialists in packaging?

    2) Can anybody recommend a UK printer who has good experience of this screening method?

    A local printer who I use otherwise offered to go half-half on the stochastic screening add-on for their RIP (they have no other customer who requests this, so it seems very fair), but their lack of experience in this technique is a slight detractor at present.

    Best wishes,

    Nick

  • #2
    Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

    Nicholas,
    You may want to try to contact Peter Arnel. He is a frequent contributor to many of these forums and he may be able to help you. His email is ptrarnel@aol.com.
    Very best regards,
    Todd

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

      Nicholas
      I print nearly all my jobs 20 micron Stacatto - However I would recommend

      http://www.taylorbloxham.co.uk/

      they are most likely leaders in the UK

      Peter

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

        Hi Todd and Peter,

        Many thanks for your responses - very helpful. I will be contacting Taylor Bloxham.

        After many more enquiries today, I am even more under the impression that Stochastic screening is now a very specialist area and out of the remit for many printers. Or this is possibly a UK thing?

        Best wishes,

        Nick

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

          Nick
          I dont think its just the UK - Kodak wanted to buy sample off me ti show to other printers !!!

          I am very interested in what you arer doing - are you trying to run 7 coloiur process

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

            RE: After many more enquiries today, I am even more under the impression that Stochastic screening is now a very specialist area and out of the remit for many printers. Or this is possibly a UK thing?


            Actually its not that Stochastic is a very specialist area that you don't hear as much about it. It's because it's now a fairly mainstream screening option and hence no longer controversial (i.e. news-worthy). For example, in the US and Canada, 80% of Yellow pages directories and 60% of newspaper inserts use this type of screening. Over 70% of entrants to the International Premier awards (the "Bennys") last year used this type of screening...so much so that the organization was considering dropping stochastic screening as a separate category.

            best, gordo

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

              Exactly, gordo!

              We (a US company) have been printing stochastic since early 2003. Within 6 months of the start, we were printing about 90% of all jobs stochastic 20 micron, and within a year we were at 99%.

              Today, it is highly unusual for us to ever print conventional screening. We also have one Ryobi 3302, and we print 25 micron stochastic on that machine, too.

              I don't think stochastic has gone away, it's now just an item that has lost it's novelty from the early days.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

                One of the main reasons Stochastic is not as popular with some commercial shops is that it requires "Change" in the press room, and most pressmen would rather have a vasectomy with a power drill and a blow torch than change the way they've been doing things since the Kennedy administration.

                Stochastic uses less water on press and may require different fountain solutions and slightly different press room procedures. Another problem with Stochastic is that you don't have as much latitude on press to push colors drastically in a crunch, as you can with standard AM screening. This means that your plates must be calibrated to match your proof and press sheets with a high degree of accuracy. This also means that prepress and the pressroom must work together in a euphoric state of pro-active, team-oriented bliss; driven by a common love for their craft and striving to provide the highest quality product, whilst minimizing finger pointing when obstacles arise. (use of the word "whilst" was used strictly for the enjoyment of our British friends across the pond.)

                Naturally, the ideal Stochastic scenario described above has never actually happened, at least not here in the U.S. Rumor has it that Stochastic is quite popular in Amsterdam, but only if everyone involved is smoking crack... which is not only legal over there, but is distributed through their public schools.

                But seriously, let's be honest about why Stochastic has been slow to catch on. The real reason is that pressman are lazy bastards. No really.... I'm not just making this up. Here you'll find an actual conversation with a real, live pressman, repeated here for your reading pleasure.

                Prepress: "We're getting complaints that you're experience color shifts on press and you can't match our proofs. Our dots are reading fine on the plates, and are within industry tolerances. Also, our proofs are showing no signs of calibration shifts. When was the last time you changed your blankets?"

                Pressman: "Listen you little %$#$% geek, I've been changing my blankets the same way since the Kennedy administration. If we can't hit the proofs then the plates have changed" (burps)

                Prepress: "Well, how many impressions can you get out of your blankets?"

                Pressman: Listen you &%#$ maggot faced &^%$# computer turd, I change blankets on a regular basis... major holidays, presidential inaugurations, you know... when I sense that a lot of time has gone by." (farts)

                Prepress: "But what happens when the blanket gets worn, you know, after say...3 million impressions?"

                Pressman: "Hell son, I just compress my roller pressure until I smash the &%$# out of that blanket. (throws back a huge gulp of Coors Light). You wouldn't believe how tough them things are. When they get as thin as toilet paper... that's when I pull em off! (farts again. Pops open a fresh Coors Light) Then, if I still can't hit the proofs after squeezin them rollers, I crank up my ink densities a little bit... you know, only like 30 or 40 points. Nothin' I aint been doin' for years The important thing is not to waste money... hurts company profits, and that means less beer."

                Prepress: "Doesn't it hurt company profits to neglect your equipment and churn out crappy printing?"

                Pressman: "Why you little #$@! mother &*%$# ass faced *&^%$ techno lovin' *&&%%..................."

                As you can see from this very real and enlightening conversation, changing blankets and performing general maintenance on a press involves something called "Manual Labor" (similar to effort, or exertion), and this is something pressman try desperately to avoid. It may have something to do with the vast amounts of alcohol pressman consume both during and after their shifts, but studies are still pending.

                Regardless, if you're job depends on a pressman performing any function other than swilling cheap beer, or using profanity in the presence of women and children, you'd better keep your resume updated.

                Edited by: LoweringTheBar on May 1, 2008 1:03 PM

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

                  LoweringTheBar points out objections to FM/Stochastic adoption that I hear all too often. I'll try to answer them.

                  RE: "One of the main reasons Stochastic is not as popular with some commercial shops is that it requires "Change" in the press room, and most pressmen would rather have a vasectomy with a power drill and a blow torch than change the way they've been doing things since the Kennedy administration."

                  This is a print shop management issue. Press operators (and prepress folk) will often have the understandable attitude of "why fix it if it ain't broke" This attitude has slowed the adoption of many technologies in the printshop - not just different screening technologies. If they do not see an ROI in making a change that relates to their part of the print manufacturing process then they've got a good point. So, IMHO, it is up to management to explain the value/ROI of making the change in terms that prepress and press operator can relate to. It is sometimes as simple as "If we don't adopt this technology we will be out of business and you will be out of a job"

                  RE: "Stochastic uses less water on press and may require different fountain solutions and slightly different press room procedures."

                  Maybe yes maybe no. Certainly not much different than moving to a higher lpi hybrid AM/XM screen. And going to finer screens is a continuing trend. I certainly don't see the reverse - i.e. printers moving to coarser screens even though running 85 lpi on a web or sheetfed would likely be easier for all concerned than 150/175 lpi

                  RE: "Another problem with Stochastic is that you don't have as much latitude on press to push colors drastically in a crunch, as you can with standard AM screening."

                  True, although you can certainly move the color. If you have to move color drastically then something has gone terribly wrong somewhere. Trying to "fix" or "make" color on a press is very expensive and not very effective. Also, the industry is rapidly adopting GCR separation techniques to enhance color stability on press (and save on ink). FM has a similar color stability to GCR separations.

                  RE: "This means that your plates must be calibrated to match your proof and press sheets with a high degree of accuracy."

                  This is the same issue for any press/proofing situation.

                  RE: "This also means that prepress and the pressroom must work together in a euphoric state of pro-active, team-oriented bliss; driven by a common love for their craft and striving to provide the highest quality product, whilst minimizing finger pointing when obstacles arise. (use of the word "whilst" was used strictly for the enjoyment of our British friends across the pond.) "

                  Actually I prefer to believe that prepress and pressroom would work together out of enlghtened self interest - i.e. make their jobs easier and their pay packet more secure. Communicating that understanding is the job of management.

                  best, gordo

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

                    Hi Gordo,

                    I just printed out your response and excitedly showed it to one of our pressman. I think I can have it removed from my posterior with minor outpatient surgery. So much for "enlightened self interest"! Next time I'll wrap it around a Coors Light can... that always works.

                    ____________________
                    "Actually I prefer to believe that prepress and pressroom would work together out of enlightened self interest - i.e. make their jobs easier and their pay packet more secure. That understanding is the job of management."
                    ____________________

                    Did you borrow that from a Phil Jackson "Zen Coaching & You" luncheon provided by Kodak? (hehe) Sing along Gordo... I'd like to teach the world to sing , In perfect harmony , I'd like to buy the world a Coke , And keep it company.... altogether now!

                    We use Kodak products exclusively, and they are awesome. All of the problems we've had with Stochastic are because of ownership not wanting to commit to the technology, and worn out pressman who won't change their water until it has the same consistency as a Grande Caramel Mochiato. If you're interested in being a pressroom supervisor, please let me know. I hope you like Coors Light.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

                      Well LTB, while I haven't been a pressroom supervisor - I have been the technical director of a fairly large and well known west coast commercial sheetfed printer (200+ employees, 10 HD presses), and at that shop, prepress and pressroom did work as a team - no always in perfect sync, but better than many I've seen. So I know it is possible. Also, at Creo/Kodak I have been asked by a number of print shop owners to "read the riot act" to their employees regarding implementing new technologies.
                      I agree when you say "All of the problems we've had with Stochastic are because of ownership not wanting to commit to the technology" Stochastic is primarily a cultural and ROI issue, not a technical issue. If management does not understand the ROI to their business for changing their manufacturing processes then neither will the employees. Understanding ROI and having the willingness to change processes in order to achieve a better ROI or profit margin is one of the characteristics that I think separate the profit leaders from those willing to accept lower, or no margins, as well as the threat of losing their business altogether just to maintain the status quo. Most front ine employees do not have a connection to the profitability, or lack thereof, of the companies that employ them. Jobs (headaches) come in, one after the other. Day in, day out. Sometimes crazy busy. Sometimes not. Get them to understand their role in achieving profitability and enhancing job security and they will listen. And they will change.

                      'nuff said. gordo

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

                        Hi Peter,

                        > {quote:title=PeterA wrote:}{quote}
                        > I dont think its just the UK - Kodak wanted to buy sample off me ti show to other printers!

                        That's interesting.

                        I have tried contacting circa 20 printers so far (large local to national) and only 1 has got back to me with a positive that they (a) have heard of it and (b) can do it. And that's Taylor Bloxham as recommended by yourself. I find this incredible.

                        > {quote:title=PeterA wrote:}{quote}
                        > I am very interested in what you arer doing - are you trying to run 7 coloiur process

                        I have uploaded the artwork to here:

                        [www.phantasmcs.com/printplanet/|http://www.phantasmcs.com/printplanet/]

                        The examples are what's getting sent to the printers apart from lower resolution images and rasterized logos. The cover ([phantasm-flyer-cover.pdf|http://www.phantasmcs.com/printplane...yer-cover.pdf]) and reverse ([phantasm-flyer-reverse.pdf|http://www.phantasmcs.com/printplane...r-reverse.pdf]) both use CMYK plus 3 standard Pantones.

                        If you're interested, the artwork was generated within Adobe Illustrator CS3 - +not+ Photoshop - using our Illustrator colour control plugin, [Phantasm CS Studio|http://www.phantasmcs.com/] and its ability to change colour curves (process and spots) along with swapping of channels. I was quite careful to maintain reasonable TAC levels (it will be printed on silk stock).

                        Also, again this may be of interest, I used the plugin's full Separations tool to produce fully separated PDFs so that all users can quickly view the inks used and select separations to view in even Acrobat Reader. I uploaded an example of this: [phantasm-flyer-cover-separated.pdf|http://www.phantasmcs.com/printplane...separated.pdf]. Load this file into Acrobat Reader and use the PDF layers control to view separations. Credit goes to a customer who recently came up with this technique using Phantasm CS Studio!

                        I hope these examples illustrate the requirement for stochastic screening - especially in the cover's Jester image and the reverse's Sweet Pepper image where 6 inks are used.

                        Out of curiosity, what screening method does Hexachrome use? Or do the colours get separated so that Moire effects are reduced with conventional screening (although I can't see how so quickly without losing the gamut possible)?

                        Best wishes,

                        Nick

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

                          > {quote:title=gordo wrote:}{quote}
                          > Actually its not that Stochastic is a very specialist area that you don't hear as much about it. It's because it's now a fairly mainstream screening option and hence no longer controversial (i.e. news-worthy). For example, in the US and Canada, 80% of Yellow pages directories and 60% of newspaper inserts use this type of screening. Over 70% of entrants to the International Premier awards (the "Bennys") last year used this type of screening...so much so that the organization was considering dropping stochastic screening as a separate category.

                          Hi Gordo,

                          Thanks for your thoughts. Those stats are very interesting; is it possible that only large scale print companies commonly use this screening? I contacted one of the largest printers in the UK about this recently and they don't use Stochastic anywhere. Obviously this is not a definitive investigation, but along with the other 20-odd printers who I contacted recently and also said "no", I am starting to wonder about the more local outfits.

                          I suppose most customers simply don't demand this. And I doubt many designers are aware of the potential of spot colours beyond applying a dab of the stuff on their corporate logos :-(

                          It's something I will have to look into further as it will affect the decision of where we take our Illustrator plugin next.

                          Best wishes,

                          Nick

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

                            > {quote:title=LoweringTheBar wrote:}{quote}
                            > One of the main reasons Stochastic is not as popular with some commercial shops is that it requires "Change" in the press room, and most pressmen would rather have a vasectomy with a power drill and a blow torch than change the way they've been doing things since the Kennedy administration.

                            +...and breath...+

                            LOL! Great read!

                            I dread to think whether this is accurate, but I have my own thoughts on that ;-)

                            Nick

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Finding a printer that caters for Stochastic/FM screening

                              Nicholas asked: "Out of curiosity, what screening method does Hexachrome use?"

                              If you look closely at the Pantone Hexachrome swatchbook you'll see that it is printed with Kodak Staccato FM screening.

                              best, gordo

                              Comment

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