History-making match—Inkjet vs. Offset


Staff member
Image Test LabsTM (ITL) has achieved a historic first by configuring a Screen 520 HD SC* inkjet web press to deliver the image reproduction quality of a commercial sheet-fed offset press—over a paper production run of 3-miles.

ITL prepared a complex test image for a side-by-side test, using the same paper, demonstrating an inkjet’s suitability for offset quality commercial color work. The purpose of the comparison test was to evaluate an alternative to offset with a lower cost, easily-obtained & managed paper inventory, as a short-run alternative to offset.

According to Henry Freedman, ITL founding partner, “For the first time, regularly supplied off-the-shelf offset paper has been printed by an inkjet web press without requiring any special coatings, resulting in output image quality that matches or exceeds offset quality.”

How the test was constructed—ITL established 3-requirements the web-fed inkjet had to meet:
  • The press needed to print directly onto off-the-shelf, Verso Sterling Ultra Gloss offset coated roll stock, with excellent adhesion—no smudging or smearing.
  • The output characteristics had to match offset quality:
    • Ink color gamut,
    • Color reproduction characteristics,
    • Appearance of the ink when dried, with a uniform consistency over the entire 3-mile length of the press run.
  • The inkjet had to include high-quality digital front-end with the requisite control range to set up & maintain press and image quality.
* From ITL research, testing, and applications knowledge, they determined—at this time—only one inkjet web press has these capabilities: the Screen 520 HD SC. The polymer ink used in the test proved to be capable of printing directly on plain, lower-cost conventional offset papers. “We noticed the offset match possibility when we measured the press output as part of the normal testing services we provide to commercial printing firms,” noted Freedman.

Cohber Press of Rochester, NY produced the challenging high-quality offset imagery the inkjet had to replicate, and Screen Americas provided the 520 HD SC inkjet web press for the commercial length, press image comparison run.

For a limited time, you can receive a complimentary copy of this test, by sending an email with your contact information to technologywatch@att.net.

Canon Research

Navigating the New Customer Landscape
Enhancing the Print Customer Connection (Part 3)

Read All About It