Agfa introduces SolidTune to optimize ink use in packaging printing

Characterizing it as “a breakthrough prepress software solution for offset packaging printing that excels by reducing ink consumption and allowing faster turnaround time for greater production efficiency, improved image quality and less waste,” OEM Agfa has released SolidTune. Developed to meet the specific challenges of packaging production, and building on the success of the crucial elements of InkTune and PressTune (which are part of Agfa’s ECO3 program for sustainable innovation), the new technique applies a unique algorithm to the solids and text after screening prior plate imaging. This process reduces the amount of ink needed for printing by an average of 3%. SolidTune is available on license in Apogee and Amfortis prepress workflows and can be used with any screening technology, including Agfa SPIR@L.

As the last stage of the rendering process, SolidTune applies a unique ink-saving algorithm to the solid 1-bit pixels before final output. Unlike other solutions, the software has been devised with unique edge protection, meaning the algorithm ensures that the edges of the solids are preserved to keep the print clean and crisp. This helps to create a better printable 1-bit file for offset packaging printing, where spot colours are often printed as solids.

Less ink, faster production

This new approach naturally shortens overall production times, as the thinner solid ink film enabled by SolidTune takes less time and energy to dry. And with faster drying, downstream processes such as finishing and die-cutting can take place sooner, allowing converters to respond to demands from brand owners for faster delivery while also saving on warehouse costs. Furthermore, the implementation of SolidTune into the workflow improves ink distribution and reduces problems with ink offsetting from one impression to the next. There will also be less force on the substrate from the ink system, which prevents plucking (or picking) of fibres from the top paper layer – a problem known to cause reduced image quality and potential rejection of jobs, said Agfa. The technology can be combined with any screening but works best in combination with SPIR@L – Agfa’s patented screening technology which was extended from commercial into packaging printing in 2021.

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