CRON challenges growth of digital print with new digital inking system for offset presses
  • EZcolor full-digital ink control makes offset printing easier
  • Improves consistency and quality
  • Facilitates dramatic reduction in paper waste

CRON is demonstrating a new inking system for sheetfed offset presses at drupa which it believes will bring dramatic new levels of efficiency to offset printers. The new EZcolor system not only reduces waste and enhances quality but also brings down the point at which short-run offset becomes profitable. In this way, EZcolor is positioned to challenge digital print's established stronghold on runs of just a few copies.

"EZcolor is a brand new technology linking prepress and press," states CRON's CEO and Founder, Mike Xiang. "It takes us one step closer to CRON's Holy Grail, zero waste and perfect color. In addition to improving print quality and consistency, we predict that paper waste could be reduced to the equivalent of digital press levels with savings of up to 90%. EZcolor makes it easier to reach better compliance with ISO standards."

Inside the EZcolor enclosure, high performance, micro-pumped ink jets exactly meter ink directly onto the first forme roller. Control of the jets is via CIP3/CIP4 data working in conjunction with an Expert database which predicts the exact ink demand under specific printing conditions. The resulting control over ink volume, to a tolerance of +/-1%, keeps a balance of ink-feed and consumption, hence ensuring a higher colour consistency on all printed jobs. Also guided by the Expert database, precise pre-inking on each press unit ensures that makeready is exceptionally fast and that colour is accurate after just a few impressions. These advantages give offset users an enhanced capability to compete with digital print for low print runs.

EZcolor ensures greater accuracy for light coverage areas where minor ink variations can make dramatic visual differences to image quality as the volume of ink is exactly metred to match the density requirements for each zone of the printed signature. Full-digital ink control of EZcolor also avoids impacts from unstable conditions, such as ink viscosity, temperature, humidity, press running speed and anything that may affect ink transfer in open fountain systems.

EZcolor is extremely easy to use due to its creative design and intuitive operation. The heart of the system is an enclosed manifold which replaces the cumbersome ink duct on a conventional offset press. Being enclosed, the EZcolor system eliminates ink contamination and the problems associated with open fountain systems of viscosity changes through solvent evaporation. There is also no need for an agitation system to keep the ink fluid.

With very few moving parts and ink fed under pressure, EZcolor is inherently reliable, maintaining high levels of uptime for the press. In the unlikely event of a problem, the ink nozzles are easy to clean, returning the system to full operation in a matter of minutes.

"Trying to close the loop between prepress and press is increasingly common. But current solutions are not only imperfect but also unavailable to older press users," says Derek Sizer, CRON's Regional Director for EMEAR. "Being modular, EZcolor can be retrofitted to any offset press, meaning that any printer can benefit from enhanced image quality, reduced waste and dramatically shorter makeready times. And then, of course, due to the time savings, more work can be completed per shift, enhancing overall profitability of the pressroom."