Esko Announces Technology Awards


Esko has announced recents wins for products from two different associations for its new prepress tool, and a unique approval tool launched last year.

InterTech Technology Award

Esko has scooped a 2020 InterTech Technology Award from PRINTING United Alliance, after developing a new prepress tool to make trapping jobs up to 70 per cent faster and unerringly accurate.

Esko has been investing in not just R&D but also customer research to further innovate trapping technology, looking to deliver to the industry better tools to achieve the goal of 100 per cent right first time trapping.

‘We are deeply honoured to receive this recognition for the Esko Trapper, which has been received so well by our customers and the industry,’ said Frank Woltering, Product Manager Graphic Editing. ‘PRINTING United Alliance is committed to advancing the graphic arts industry, so to be recognised for our efforts in improving trapping to boost accuracy, productivity and efficiency, makes our job worthwhile.

‘Achieving a consistent, aesthetic trapping result with the correct distance, direction or colour you give to a trap, and to make it as least visible as possible, is difficult even for expert prepress operators,’ said Woltering. ‘If a job is trapped by 10 different people, then there will be 10 different results. The Esko Trapper is a new trapping product that will help get the job done not only in less time but more importantly also in a much safer way, closing misregister gaps and accommodating individual exceptions to ensure all colleagues in a team can and do achieve exactly the same trap result, delivering a right first time trap file to press.’

Woltering explained that trapping carried out manually can be a very complex and time-consuming task requiring skilled operators, with around 15% of prepress time going into trapping. ‘While existing instant trapper tools can work on strokes, images and anything within the design, it is still a manual process,’ he said. ‘Not only does this mean the process can take some time, but it also involves risk of operator error, nor can it be used in a workflow, making it difficult to change a global trap setting,’ he said. ‘While currently available trappers can apply standards – rules that can be configured to achieve the same trapping result using a workflow – they are not very flexible on the aesthetic, meaning operators still have to go in and make exceptions.

‘This is why Esko has developed its brand-new trapper – using an object-based approach combined with a colour-based approach. Esko created a new algorithm that can not only judge a trap based on the colour situation, but also based on objects,’ said Woltering. ‘Often, modern packaging designs are covered in image data that is masked out by using an alpha channel. These images need to be individually prepared by the prepress professional to accomplish a good trap. But the Esko trapper is taking over this task by artificially adding image data to fill traps into the background. Combining these two improvements gives us a much better first time right when trapping the job automatically.’

James Workman, vice president of technology and research for PRINTING United Alliance, the largest printing and graphic arts association in the United States, commented that InterTech Technology Award judges were impressed with the uniqueness of being able to set exceptions for trapping objects and have that stay with the object even if the design is altered. Some of the judges were surprised, he said, that this level of automation was possible given the complexities of trapping designs.

‘This is not just an improved process of aesthetic trapping, it is designed specifically to maintain exceptions across files,’ added Woltering. ‘This is the very first time this unique functionality has been achieved and is protected across numerous patents.’

EFIA Awards

Esko also received a Bronze Award at the recent European Flexographic Industry Association (EFIA) 2020 Awards – the first for its innovative Share & Approve tool. Esko received the honour in the Technical Innovation – Supplier category. The innovative software runs as a service on Esko cloud architecture and enables users to upload, share, annotate and approve packaging and label jobs in 2D and hyper realistic 3D.

‘We’re thrilled to have been recognised by the judges in this hugely competitive category,’ said Paul Land, Esko Product Manager. ‘The EFIA awards are renowned for acknowledging outstanding commitment to the flexographic print process and we are delighted that Share & Approve has been praised for its ability to simplify and significantly boost approval speeds.

‘Securing approvals can be a confusing process and cause production delays, so we developed Share & Approve for today’s high speed, and often pressured, packaging business environment,’ said Land. ‘It’s often hard for the approver to envision their 2D design once finished and there is also no easy way to gather and interpret feedback from multiple stakeholders on a job without significant time delays impacting the project.’

The Esko Share & Approve software solution enables users to realistically visualise their pack in 2D and 3D and annotate the file with feedback in a single, centralised online tool. This new clarity reduces the amount of approval iterations and shortens the time required to get the job completed, enabling brands and their supply chains to operate more efficiently and drive down time-to-market. The software has a super easy user interface enabling upload and set up in only four clicks and incorporates a range of unique packaging inspection tools for measurements, deep zooms and separations viewing, as well as barcode and braille reading.

‘We now see approval loops finishing in a maximum of eight or nine days instead of a few weeks,’ added Land. ‘We have also observed the number of job revisions decreasing from as many as eight or nine to just three or four with use of the software.’ Creating visibility on job management, Share & Approve provides a complete audit trail of operator actions and versioning, as well as making approval rates up to three times faster than traditional approval processes.

‘With Share & Approve designed as a cloud-based service, there are no IT overhead costs or efforts involved for our customers, compared to traditional in-house solutions,’ said Land. ‘There is no web deployment, no servers to maintain and keep up to date, no need to provide for data security and back-up scenarios and the uptime of the service is guaranteed.’


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