Inkdrop or Alwan Eco?

jay12345

Active member
Hello Everyone,

We are a small operation that has large clients with very high expectations. We aim to please and are willing to invest in any product that is going to make our lives easier and product better. We are working in Rampage 11.3 and are about to upgrade to version 12 for the threaded processing. We currently have zero color management and are looking to impliment a solution along with the upgrade. I have been testing out Alwans Eco product for a week now and have pretty much fallen in love the software/solution. I decided to bounce this product off the guys at Rampage just to see what they had to say about it. They were quick to dismiss Alwan even to the tune of acting as if they didnt even know about the product which if find very hard to swollow. I love Rampage and wouldn't even consider switching workflows if another was given to me. The only thing that comes close to topping there product, in my mind is there customer support. With that said, is it really possible that they never heard of Alwan? How about the fact that Alwan placed in the top of its category in the ink optimization roundup performed by Idealliance and inkdrop failed to contend. I cant help but wonder why inkdrop was not part of the study when all the major players were there. I understand that having inkrop inline seems like the way to go in terms of ease and automation and that is how they will try to sell me on it im sure. If a standalone software is going to work better than an inline option than i am going with that. Dropping a file into a hot-folder is not really that fare off from seamless. I would love to hear from both Alwan and Inkdrop users as i am open to both products. I am also aware that that fuji's implementation of inkdrop will only supply me with 2 custom DVLP's and then $1500.00 for each after or i can buy the tools needed to create them on my own. Im using Alwan right now with the standard Gracol profile with gcr set at 5 and i haven't seen a reason for custom profiles yet. Im cutting the ink down to 300 for coated and 280 for uncoated. Color looks great. A lot less ink on the sheet. Make-ready and stability throughout the run are improved dramatically. I have read just about everything on this forum that has the words GCR, Rampage Inkdrop and Alwan in them and have not yet found the information needed to make me sure im spending my bosses money on the right product. I am also aware of Rampages color policy addition in v12 but i am really looking for a device link / GCR Solution.

Thanks in advance for your help with this.

Jayson
 

Tommyjt

Well-known member
I recommend that you call Eric Magnusson at Left Dakota. He can provide you with a solution for a fraction of the cost of ink optimization software.
 

jay12345

Active member
I recommend that you call Eric Magnusson at Left Dakota. He can provide you with a solution for a fraction of the cost of ink optimization software.

Hi Tom,
I do appreciate your response but i am pretty much set on one of these 2 options.
Thanks, Jayson
 

Tommyjt

Well-known member
In that case I would go with the Alwan solution. I have it and it works well, although HUGE $ for what it actually does.
 

jay12345

Active member
In that case I would go with the Alwan solution. I have it and it works well, although HUGE $ for what it actually does.

Hey Tom,

Awesome thanks. If you dont mind my asking. What version of the software do you have and what profile/gcr level are you using?

Thanks, Jayson
 

Tommyjt

Well-known member
Version 3.8.2. We have two options, screen shots attached. MAXk.jpg GCR.jpg
 

tmiller_iluvprinting

Well-known member
I have been lobbying for budget dollars to install InkDrop for about 3 years now. The thing that I find appealing about InkDrop is that it works with RAMPage and makes the color management workflow 'late-binding'. A couple of the drawbacks that I see is with InkDrop are that you need to create your own DLP's with 3rd party software. InkDrop uses 'static' DLP's, not 'dynamic' DLP's like Alwan, ICE and some of the other solutions available. I'm not sure where Fuji's support is, but the few times that I have heard them talk about InkDrop I didn't come away with the feeling that the person(s) presenting were knowledgeable about InkDrop. You may want to try to contact Terry Wyse at wyseconsul@mac.com. Terry is knowledgeable and did some InkDrop installs before RAMPage partnered with Fuji. Keep us posted on your decision.
Best regards,
Todd
 

jay12345

Active member
I have been lobbying for budget dollars to install InkDrop for about 3 years now. The thing that I find appealing about InkDrop is that it works with RAMPage and makes the color management workflow 'late-binding'. A couple of the drawbacks that I see is with InkDrop are that you need to create your own DLP's with 3rd party software. InkDrop uses 'static' DLP's, not 'dynamic' DLP's like Alwan, ICE and some of the other solutions available. I'm not sure where Fuji's support is, but the few times that I have heard them talk about InkDrop I didn't come away with the feeling that the person(s) presenting were knowledgeable about InkDrop. You may want to try to contact Terry Wyse at wyseconsul@mac.com. Terry is knowledgeable and did some InkDrop installs before RAMPage partnered with Fuji. Keep us posted on your decision.
Best regards,
Todd

Yeah the dynamic DLP is pretty much the make or break for me at this point I think. Between the upgrade to v12 and Alwan. I dont really want to spend another $5-$10k for DVLP creation tools. The in-rip is really whats holding me back from just buying Alwan today so i am really hoping to hear from a few people with working knowledge of either solution before i actually pull the trigger.
 

TerryWyse

Well-known member
Lots of confusion regarding Alwan, INKdrop and ink optimization in general.

First, let's define what RAMpage INKdrop is...and isn't. INKdrop is NOT an ink optimization or "ink savings" feature of RAMpage. INKdrop is simply a way to select either ICC or device link profiles for output. RAMpage has had the ability to use ICC profiles and device links for years with proofing systems......INKdrop simply extends this ability to film and plate output.

The ink optimization "efficiency" of INKdrop will depend on what software you use to create the device link profiles that get used by the INKdrop interface. I happen to use and recommend Alwan's LinkProfiler software (static device links) but there are other applications out there than can build device link profiles for use in INKdrop (my other favorite is Link-o-Lator by Left Dakota and colleague Eric Magnusson who was mentioned above).

So, INKdrop is primarily a UI for selecting "static" device link profiles for plate output and has little, if anything, to do with ink optimization or how much ink savings you'll get....THAT'S going to depend on what you use to create your device link profiles.

Alwan CMYK Optimizer "ECO" is a *workflow tool* that is a combination of device link profile creation tool and a color server for processing PDFs. Alwan CMYK Optimizer does not integrate into the RAMpage workflow in the same way that INKdrop does. In a RAMpage environment, Alwan CMYK Optimizer would function as an "early binding" workflow tool while INKdrop functions as a "late binding" tool. By early binding, I mean that you would need to process all your PDFs via CMYK Optimizer PRIOR to those files getting registered into the RAMpage system. If you intend to color-manage directly to your press, this creates a problem of sorts since the decision about what press the job is going to has to be known before the files get registered in RAMpage. It also creates a problem for proofing since you've done a custom (non-GRACoL/SWOP) profile conversion. If you have multiple presses you want to color-manage, you'll be creating a multiple proof simulation workflow that is difficult to manage (you'll have as many proofing "hot folders" as you have press, paper and screening combinations!). And if you routinely move jobs around to different presses right up until you image plates, this early binding will create another problem since you've already targeted a particular press/paper/screening configuration. If you change anything downstream, you'll need to go back to the beginning and re-process the job and re-register the job in RAMpage (and re-proof as well).

In a late binding workflow such as INKdrop, you register your job as you normally would. Proofing can happen using "standard" simulations such as GRACoL/SWOP since the conversion to the press doesn't happen until just before you make plates. Jobs can be moved around to different press/paper/screening combinations right up to the last minute.

Pros/Cons?
RAMpage INKdrop cannot use "dynamic" device links (Alwan CYMK Optimizer uses dynamic links, INKdrop+Alwan LinkProfiler uses static links).

Solution:
Use Alwan CMYK Optimizer to convert/optimize PDFs upstream of RAMpage but do NOT convert them using a custom press profile...keep them in a standard press color space such as GRACoL.
Use INKdrop and LinkProfiler to "preserve separations" (preserve ink savings) but color-manage and/or apply curves for the final press/paper/screening combo and image your plates.

Using this workflow, you'll get the best of all worlds......"dynamically" adjusted ink optimization using a standard press space such as GRACoL...but the late binding advantage of color-managing to your particular press at the last minute.

Please contact me if you have any questions....there is quite a bit of "nuance" in some of this that I can't go into at length here....and, needless to say, it takes someone familiar with these types of workflows to make it work for you....don't expect to piece something like this together without any outside help. If that sounds like a plug, so be it.....but it's the truth.

In terms of Alwan "ECO", if you're using sheetfed presses, I wouldn't spend the money on ECO. ECO can be very impressive in terms of ink savings....but it can be very dangerous as well. Much depends on how much control you want to TAKE WAY from the pressroom vs. giving them a measure of control to make customer-requested adjustments on press. The beauty and the "problem" with GCR and ink savings is that it can remove a measure of control from the pressman's hands.

Regards,
Terry Wyse
 
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TerryWyse

Well-known member
Jayson, one other thing........I would be very skeptical taking advice/suggestions from anyone that does NOT have a RAMpage system or is at least intimately familiar with it. Ink optimization is not a plug 'n play scenario.....it takes an understanding of your current workflow (RAMpage, Prinergy, Trueflow, whatever) to make an informed recommendation. There IS NO default solution that's correct for everyone.....there's a lot of factors to consider....workflow system, type of presses you have, type of work that you do, etc.

It goes without saying (at least to me) that you should ALREADY be printing using a standard specification such as G7, GRACoL, SWOP, etc. otherwise much of the benefits of this type of color-managed workflow is not going to be taken advantage of. If all you want to do is "save ink" but not improve your printing and proofing quality, then you're missing the boat.

Terry
 

jay12345

Active member
Jayson, one other thing........I would be very skeptical taking advice/suggestions from anyone that does NOT have a RAMpage system or is at least intimately familiar with it. Ink optimization is not a plug 'n play scenario.....it takes an understanding of your current workflow (RAMpage, Prinergy, Trueflow, whatever) to make an informed recommendation. There IS NO default solution that's correct for everyone.....there's a lot of factors to consider....workflow system, type of presses you have, type of work that you do, etc.

It goes without saying (at least to me) that you should ALREADY be printing using a standard specification such as G7, GRACoL, SWOP, etc. otherwise much of the benefits of this type of color-managed workflow is not going to be taken advantage of. If all you want to do is "save ink" but not improve your printing and proofing quality, then you're missing the boat.

Terry

Hi Terry,

Thanks for all that. I really do appreciate it and you clearly know what you are talking about. First off i really couldnt care any less about saving ink in terms of cost for the ink. I care about saving ink in terms of cutting the TAC down to a printable level on coated and un-coated without a noticeable change in color. Im looking for the best product out that is going to make this as easy as possible for me to achieve. I am only sending jobs to 1 indigo 5500 and one 5 color coater currently. we will have more presses in the future im sure so i will keep that in mind during my decisions now. We do quite often pull a job off the 5c and shift it over to the indigo do save time and so on. but as far as profiling goes i really am just looking to standardize the pdfs into the same color space and cut the TAC for both 5c and indigo. My proofer is calibrated to G7.

Thanks, Jayson
 

TerryWyse

Well-known member
We currently have zero color management and are looking to impliment a solution along with the upgrade.

Zero color management? What about proofing....what are you doing there?

I have been testing out Alwans Eco product for a week now and have pretty much fallen in love the software/solution. I decided to bounce this product off the guys at Rampage just to see what they had to say about it. They were quick to dismiss Alwan even to the tune of acting as if they didnt even know about the product which if find very hard to swollow. I love Rampage and wouldn't even consider switching workflows if another was given to me. The only thing that comes close to topping there product, in my mind is there customer support. With that said, is it really possible that they never heard of Alwan?

Not sure who you talked to at RAMpage but, trust me, they know about Alwan. They may not know SPECIFICALLY about Alwan CMYK Optimizer ECO but they know about Alwan generally.

As one of the first independent consultant-types that implemented INKdrop, I've been using/recommending primarily Alwan LinkProfiler and to a lesser extent Left Dakota's Link-o-Lator for creation of device links for INKdrop.



How about the fact that Alwan placed in the top of its category in the ink optimization roundup performed by Idealliance and inkdrop failed to contend. I cant help but wonder why inkdrop was not part of the study when all the major players were there.

The reason that INKdrop wasn't part of that study is because it's not technically an ink optimization product.....it's a feature/option that allows you to apply ICC device links for final output. INKdrop has nothing to do with *creating* the device link profiles itself. RAMpage's INKdrop will produce no better/no worse results than the device link profile you've selected will allow it produce. The main distinction is that RAMpage INKdrop makes use of static device links as opposed to the "dynamic" links of some other products. But there are ways to create a workflow that utilizes the best of both static and dynamic links.

In terms of the IDEAlliance roundup, I personally look at the results with a fair amount of skepticism. I know enough about these workflows to know that it would be extremely difficult to construct a valid test that would be cost-effective. In any case, here's how I would interpret the results:

* The IDEAlliance test was more a test of different color server products than it was about device link profiles in particular.

* While there were some differences, I think it showed more about how SIMILAR the results were among the different products than about any products that stood out from the others. Given the similar results, in my mind the focus perhaps should've shifted to things like conversion quality (smoothness and accuracy) and workflow integration. Given the "stand-alone" nature of many of these color server products, they typically don't integrate well ("play nice") with existing workflows, especially if one wants to implement more of a "late binding" approach. I say this generally, not specifically.

I understand that having inkrop inline seems like the way to go in terms of ease and automation and that is how they will try to sell me on it im sure. If a standalone software is going to work better than an inline option than i am going with that.

Define "better". :)

Dropping a file into a hot-folder is not really that fare off from seamless. I would love to hear from both Alwan and Inkdrop users as i am open to both products.

The "seamlessness" of RAMpage's INKdrop is it's primary advantage. You queue up a set of plates and the INKdrop/ink savings conversion just "happens". Given up-to-date hardware, the conversion delays the first plate by perhaps a minute or two but after that, there's no performance impact.

RAMpage can also handle things like preservation of black overprints (this gets hosed in most device link profile conversions) and being able to isolate particular objects or page elements from being converted. There CAN be cases where it's too risky to simply blindly convert all objects on a page, logo color specs being one example. Even something as "simple" as a press color bar can be tricky. Should I convert or not? What if I want NO profile conversion but I DO want a curve correction on my color bars? All things to think about.


I have read just about everything on this forum that has the words GCR, Rampage Inkdrop and Alwan in them and have not yet found the information needed to make me sure im spending my bosses money on the right product.

Rather than focus on a particular PRODUCT, you first need to look at the workflow implications. "Early binding" vs. "late binding" (or a combination of the two) should be your first consideration. You also need to consider what other components you have in your workflow. For example, if you already have a GMG proofing system, there may be a good reason to consider GMG ColorServer/InkOptimizer as an add-on to what you already have. You also need to consider what color management gear you already own (spectros, profiling software, etc.) and whether it makes sense to "roll your own" device link profiles or use an outside service for that. Lots to think about!

Regards,
Terry
 

TerryWyse

Well-known member
Hi Terry,

Thanks for all that. I really do appreciate it and you clearly know what you are talking about.

Thanks....depends on the day.....today must be a good day. :)

First off i really couldnt care any less about saving ink in terms of cost for the ink. I care about saving ink in terms of cutting the TAC down to a printable level on coated and un-coated without a noticeable change in color. Im looking for the best product out that is going to make this as easy as possible for me to achieve.

If ALL you care about is TAC reduction and not GCR/overall ink savings per sé, then that opens up more (and less expensive) options for you. Can't say if Alwan CMYK Optimizer or INKdrop+Alwan LinkProfiler would be better until we look at the numbers. You probably know that both CMYK Optimizer and LinkProfiler are offered in different versions depending on features and what you need to do. The ECO product is not required if all you want to do is apply TAC reduction.


I am only sending jobs to 1 indigo 5500 and one 5 color coater currently. we will have more presses in the future im sure so i will keep that in mind during my decisions now. We do quite often pull a job off the 5c and shift it over to the indigo do save time and so on. but as far as profiling goes i really am just looking to standardize the pdfs into the same color space and cut the TAC for both 5c and indigo.

TAC requirements would be different on the Indigo vs. offset.

My proofer is calibrated to G7.

G7....which flavor of G7? I assume GRACoL but thought I'd clarify. (GRACoL is G7....but G7 isn't necessarily GRACoL)
What proofing system are you using? RAMpage's RAMproof+ICC option or a 3rd party RIP like GMG, ORIS or EFI?

Contact me off-list if you prefer. You can contact me at wyseconsul[at]mac[dot]com

Later,
Terry
 

rich apollo

Well-known member
jay,
Based on what you've laid out you definitely do not fit the bill for ECO. However, Alwan's less expensive flavors of CMYK Optimizer would be useful. I've been running ECO for several years now and love it. I'm finding that re-separating all incoming files puts a host of issues to rest, and for us the ROI (in ink savings) was absurdly rapid. I kinda' blew the sales reps claims off, but they were not exaggerating.

Alwan is using an Adobe core, they handle transparency very capably, and their tech support is very good. You can always call Terry, too. He gets lonely and enjoys client calls at 2 or 3 am - eastern time.

In short, I can't say that Alwan is the right choice for you, but I will say that I don't think you would ever be disappointed in the investment. Our digital division is using Optimizer, also, and likes the results.
 

jay12345

Active member
Ok i did it. Ive upgraded Rampage to v12, I purchased Alwans Ink Optimizer Eco, and added Rampage Remote. I am going to add inkdrop in the "hopefully" very near future to complete Terry's recommendation earlier. I would have done this now but Remote was thrown into the mix at the very end and blew my budget. Anyone using remote? Id love to hear anything anyone has to say about it. Hopefully positive feedback as i already own it.

Thanks, Jayson
 

bean66

Well-known member
We use Rampage Remote but just 2 of our customers use it regularly for online proofing. We have even found it difficult to get our customer service reps to use it in house for softproof generation. Usually the CSR asks the Prep dept to generate PDFs to email to customers.
 

jay12345

Active member
We use Rampage Remote but just 2 of our customers use it regularly for online proofing. We have even found it difficult to get our customer service reps to use it in house for softproof generation. Usually the CSR asks the Prep dept to generate PDFs to email to customers.

do you ever get complaints about the platform from the people who do use it? too slow, too confusing.....
 

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