Stephen Ball – Fuji Xerox

Published:  December 22, 2012
Stephen Ball – Fuji Xerox

Stephen Ball from Fuji Xerox reveals his beginnings in the print industry and why digital is no longer offset’s poor cousin.

I come from a family of avid readers who hold the printed word with reverence and a store of great value, regardless of form. There was never a time it was any different. Professionally, I came to understand the hard work, talent, passion, and engineering involved producing it. Perhaps a little strangely, I also came to love the smell and the permanence of it. Holding that final printed product still fills me with pride as much today as it did when I started.

For a long time digital was seen as offset’s poor cousin. I think the perception has been based on the limitations of what digital could do, and that people thought it looked cheap. That’s certainly not the case anymore. Now with the latest in digital print technologies, designers can have their cake and eat it too – the latest digital finishes look very similar to what is produced on offset, but with the flexibility and personalisation that digital offers, such as run lengths of 1 or 10,000.

What often surprises designers is that print quality has improved across the industry, and the range of stocks that can be utilised has grown substantially. Bells and whistles effects like clear gloss and foils can be achieved digitally too. The iGen 4 EXP is a new digital press which allows us to print an A4 gatefold booklet digitally, as it can run larger sheet sizes. Previously, designers would have had to have this job printed offset which for many jobs would make it cost prohibitive to produce and not within the budget of their client.

We are also seeing a lot of agencies and studios buying smaller digital devices for in-house proofing as well. Solutions are available today to ensure that colour proofs match final print runs, prints and reprints, and across different print technologies. If printing to a standard – such as AS/ISO 12647, fogra or Gracol – the same solutions can verify that prints are conforming to that standard, providing peace of mind with respect to colour accuracy.

Digital is only going to get better and better. The image quality is already great, and continues to improve. The range of stocks that can be run through digital presses today is already expansive including cast coated, gloss coated, silk coated, uncoated, recycled, textured, linens, artboard, synthetics, labels, and metallic stocks, It continues to expand in terms of stock types, weight and finish. More automation is being built into digital, providing improved time to press, colour accuracy, predictability and consistency. You’ll also see more prints being produced that include colours beyond CMYK – clear gloss spot, broader colour gamuts, white, metallics, and UV. Lastly, more inline finishing options are being developed to provide a greater array of finished product automatically. What it all means is that print is heading toward very high quality work, fully finished, with special effects – all at the press of a button.

Thumbnail: Nike 2012 Holiday Look Book designed by Cassette and printed on a Xerox Colour 800 Press.

One Response

  1. Nathan

    Advertising much?

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