Kodak Software Enhances Trading Card Production

Kodak Software Enhances Trading Card Production

Millennium Print Group was built to deliver high end trading cards, which involves intense colour management, precise proofing and exceptional printing. Beginning with a single press and platemaker, today they have eight presses and two output devices running KODAK TRILLIAN Plates. 

One of the most challenging jobs in print is printing Premium Trading Cards. Printing them requires command of colour, precision print, high security and speed to delivery. Without a solid workflow, it would be impossible for a company to meet all criteria. For Millennium Print Group in North Carolina, the answer was PRINERGY and COLORFLOW Pro software.

Wayne Bailey, Digital Prepress Manager at Millennium, said that PRINERGY was the workflow of choice from the start. He had worked with it from the time it was introduced to the market and he knew it would be robust enough for his demands. It allows everyone to work at top efficiency even as they adjust their workflow over time.

But, in the beginning, they managed colour quality and consistency by eye using popular colour tools. That human element introduced variation that wasn’t compatible with the rest of their workflow. Then Kodak introduced COLORFLOW Pro to the PRINERGY offering.

Saji Koruth, prepress manager for colour quality, said that ColorFlow changed everything. He began working with the Kodak team on his first day at Millennium to learn COLORFLOW Pro and ink optimisation. To start efficiently, Millennium contracted with Kodak Colour Services to create the optimum work paths. The Kodak team has been the coach on the colour team, helping Koruth and the prepress staff to become COLORFLOW masters.

With COLORFLOW, colour quality is based on the numbers. This is important because they must match colours developed exclusively for non-standard cards and tighter than industry norms. He said that with COLORFLOW Color Space conversions along with Tonal Control, he can control his colour environment. ‘It’s colour-by-numbers,’ Koruth said. ‘I can control the amount of ink going into the press. I can control the plate, press, proof profiles and curves from one source.’

Before COLORFLOW, they struggled with curves and visual matching that added time to their makeready. Their customer comes for visual press checks, and if they see even the smallest anomaly, an adjustment must be made. It used to take as many as five iterations to meet the customer requirement, with significant time and cost associated with every iteration.

With COLORFLOW Pro they are quicker, better and faster. Their reputation for colour quality and consistency has developed a loyal following, with some customers moving their primary colour set-up work to Millennium. The print work followed. They consider their proficiency with COLORFLOW Pro to be their competitive differentiator. They continue to subscribe to Kodak Colour Services to optimise their skills.

Bailey said moving to COLORFLOW Pro brings mathematical precision to the process, reducing makeready time by 75%. Without PRINERGY and COLORFLOW Pro he would need more employees and production would take more time and experience more variability. ‘Once we profile a press to a specific condition, it becomes a paint-by-numbers solution. We match the proof. And if we don’t match the proof because we aren’t hitting the densities or dot gains, we know how to fix it using Tonal Control.’ He noted that the work is correct the first time it goes to the press 75% of the time and 70% of the time the customer signs off after they see the first sheet. With customer requirements to match within 1.5 delta E, the ability to get to signoff in the first iteration is an achievement.

The automation is so complete that even when managers go on vacation, there is no concern about the production work. The team is comfortable working with the Tonal Control features to bring any job into alignment and deliver print quality the customer demands. Even the press operators have learned to trust the numbers. They know that if they follow the process, the press will be dialled in for the job and the colour will be accurate. This means no reruns and no waste due to colour issues.


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