Visitors to the Global Graphics stand at Labelexpo will see a host of special features for digital labels and packaging printing in the Harlequin RIP®, some of which have been introduced during the past year as the company expands its portfolio of press vendors supplying this sector of the market.
New features include controls for deciding when to blend emulated spot colors with process colors for exceptionally accurate brand color matching, and extended controls over PDF layers so that optional content used in process control can be individually switched on or off, for example to print just cut and fold lines for lead-in sheets.
“An increasing number of vendors are using Harlequin under the hood of their solutions for labels and packaging, says Martin Bailey, CTO, Global Graphics Software. “So naturally, as we work more closely with them we jointly identify opportunities to fine-tune our software to give print shops and converters a better solution.
“Just to take one example, why does it matter at which stage you blend spot colors that are emulated in CMYK, or CMYKOG etc., with process colors? Well, you might be deliberately emulating an offset or flexo print standard for images and other graphics in the process inks, and you don’t want to compromise the gamut available for your brand colors by including them in that emulation. But you definitely do want to make sure that your ink limiting transforms apply to them to avoid issues on press.
“With controls like this and a host of other features for labels and packaging production Harlequin gives you the flexibility to get the best results out of your workflow. I look forward to the day when vendors give us permission to announce that they have chosen Harlequin.”
The Harlequin RIP transforms design and pre-press data into a format that can be printed and feeds that data to the inkjet print-head, toner marking engine or laser plate-setter press. It is highly tuned for performance, to produce the highest speed possible without compromising on print quality.
It includes rich support for spot colors, colorant sets beyond CMYK, overprinting, and variable data print optimization for processing batches of labels imposed together, serial numbers, track and trace and randomized versioning. It also includes halftone screening developed specifically for a variety of print technologies, including flexo and inkjet.
Other features for labels and packaging applications include:
• Brand color look up and editing: most digital production is done without special brand color inks. Harlequin includes named color look up tables to convert requested spot separations into process colors via a number of routes. PANTONE is included and additional libraries may be added.
• Merging emulated spots: If your spot colors are transformed to process builds as soon as you see them, and if the spot colored object is involved in any transparency blending, the result will look very different to the same job being printed on a press that actually has an ink for that spot color. Harlequin retains the spot past all transparency composting before merging any emulated spots into the process inks late in the process.
• Structural and technical separations:
o the Harlequin Contour Processor™ intercepts die lines and other technical separations which often need to be printed for proofing, or for aligning prints and pre-cut media or post-print die cutting. Those separations need removing from the raster for production printing. They can then be used to drive cutters.
o Separations such as die lines or glue areas can also be completely ignored rather than just omitted when rendering, avoiding issues when they have been accidentally set to knock out.
o PDF layers (optional content) can be individually turned on or off: creation workflows often use layers of optional content for process control and sometimes the PDF must be printed with some layers on and others off. Harlequin also allows everything that’s not included in any layer to be turned off so that you can, for instance, print nothing but die lines on lead-in sheets to assist with registration of dies.
• Color Logic support: Harlequin includes a framework that makes it easy to add support for Color Logic and other metallic design tools if your digital device includes a white colorant.
• Overriding overprint for white, varnish and metallic: Some special colorants should not knock out of, or be knocked out by, other colorants. A varnish should never knock out of other colors, for instance, while a white ink laid in under other colors should not be knocked out by ‘real’ graphics in other inks. Harlequin 11 includes configurations that allow these overprints to be controlled.
• UV inkjet: forcing black knock outs for legibility because, on a press without pinning between the heads, inks can mix on the substrate surface and disrupt the outline of small graphics such as text.
At Labelexpo Global Graphics will also showcase an extended range of screening options for labels and packaging workflows that rewrite the rule book when it comes to addressing single pass inkjet output quality. The ScreenPro™ screening engine can be used in any label and packaging workflow alongside any RIP. Global Graphics’ screening technology has been developed from the ground up in response to press manufacturers’ concerns about image quality in single pass inkjet applications.