The remarkable technology behind the PIA’s 2017 InterTech Technology Award recipients

The Printing Industries of America has released descriptions of the 14 recipients of its 2017 InterTech Technology Award. An independent panel of judges deliberated over technology nominations that showcased the dynamic and innovative nature of our industry. The judges singled out the following technologies as meeting the award criteria of being truly innovative, and expected to have a major impact on the graphic communications industry. Here are the winning technologies in alphabetical order:

XP Series LED-UV Curing Modules (AMS Spectral UV – A Baldwin Technology Company). XP Series LED-UV Curing Modules enable faster production speeds, lower energy consumption, and overcome other challenges of traditional UV and IR systems. A patented optic system ensures uniform light distribution and modules integrate readily onto new and used presses. Modules can last more than 30,000 hours, eliminating the need to frequently replace bulbs while providing unprecedented curing consistency. One judge commented: “This is absolutely a leap forward from traditional UV curing.”

ORIS Flex Pack // Web Visualizer (CGS Publishing technologies International). ORIS Flex Pack // Web Visualizer is a proofing and prototyping system for packaging prototypes produced on flexographic, offset, gravure, and digital presses. Utilizing the ORIS colour management system, a Roland eco-solvent printer, ORIS XG (extended gamut) inks, and CGS substrates, users can produce colour-accurate proofs and prototypes of proposed packaging designs, from 3D design to final prototype. The judges praised an innovative solution that puts high-quality capabilities within reach of even small firms.

ColorLogic ColorAnt 4.0 (ColorLogic GmbH). ColorAnt 4.0 advances the quality and reliability of ICC profiles used in a colour management workflow. It measures colour targets used in profiling inkjet, offset, and flexo presses, and, importantly, finds and corrects measurement errors. Judges lauded ColorAnt’s ability to edit primary colours without the need to go back on press to print another test chart (particularly important in packaging), make corrections based on G7 and industry standards, and support all of the popular measurement devices.

Esko XPS Crystal (Esko). The Esko XPS Crystal is a digitally controlled LED UV exposure unit supporting photopolymer flexo plates. The unit provides an unprecedented level of automation and can be part of a completely automated platemaking line. The LED UV light technology, concurrently preforming both main and back exposures, and the digital control, allow for new levels of exposure accuracy. The judges praised Esko’s innovation that both streamlines flexographic platemaking steps and improves plate consistency.

Gallus Labelfire 340 (Gallus Ferd. Rüesch AG). The Gallus Labelfire 340 is a label-converting system that allows printers to produce UV Inkjet-printed labels in one press pass. The press combines flexo and/or screen units with inkjet units imaging at 1200 x 1200 dpi native, thus facilitating variable data and versioning in label printing. Eight-colour labels can be printed, embellished,and converted at speeds of 164 feet per minute. The judges immediately saw the impact of a hybrid press that can do it all inline at those speeds.

Prinect Press Center XL 2 with Intellistart 2 (Heidelberg). The Prinect Press Center XL 2 with Intellistart 2 changes the paradigm of press operation. The system is capable of autonomous job changes, monitoring and adjusting print quality (activating the good sheet counter once colour has met a predetermined setting), stopping the print job after reaching the desired quantity, and starting the next job once new plates are automatically mounted. “The ‘Push to Stop’ approach is a game changer, dramatically improving throughput,” said one judge.

HP PrintOS (HP). HP PrintOS is an operating platform with a set of Web and mobile apps that help print service providers get more from their HP presses and printers and simplify and automate production. PrintOS is available to HP device owners (with an active service contract) who can choose to use applications that optimize their device operation. Judges expect PrintOS and the array of affordable apps to be especially attractive to printers that currently don’t own production management software solutions.

HP PageWide T490 HD.
HP PageWide T490 HD.

HP PageWide Web Press T490 HD (HP). Judges saw the significantly increased speed and resolution of this 40” HP PageWide inkjet web press as an unmistakable innovation – one that combines customized print at a throughput of traditional colour offset presses. Users can print and dry at speeds up to 1,000 feet per minute with 1200 ink nozzles per inch, or impressively, choose to double the resolution to 2400 nozzles at slower speeds. The press duplexes and can print on coated paper with inline priming.

JUST LED moduLight Dual Illuminant D50/D65 (JUST Normlicht). The technology uses LED arrays that are precisely manufactured to reproduce different portions of the light spectrum. It’s the first LED colour viewing technology to achieve certification to the demanding ISO 3664:2009 standard. JUST hardware, software and optical technologies are integrated to achieve conformance to CIE D50 and D65 illuminants and to remain consistent over time. The judges agreed that the JUST LED moduLight product line reaches a new level of viewing performance.

Komori Impremia IS29.
Komori Impremia IS29.

Komori Impremia IS29 (Komori). The Komori Impremia IS29 is a 29″ UV inkjet press that can run a 23″ x 29” sheet at speeds up to 3,000 sph. It meets customer needs of quality, reliability, substrate freedom, and delivers bindery-ready sheets thanks to the UV curing capability. Users extol its ability to print variable data while producing print quality ‘visually indistinguishable’ from offset. It’s the IS29’s perfecting capability that caused the judges to see it as easily integrated into existing sheetfed workflows.

MGI AIS SmartScanner Intelligent Registration System (MGI Digital Technology). The AIS SmartScanner is a new JETvarnish 3D registration technology solution for enhancing offset, flexo and digital printed material. It automatically adjusts the placement of varnish (clear ink) and foil based on actual ink impressions and substrate characteristics (shrink, skew, stretch, etc.). It eliminates the need for registration marks and optimizes quality by treating each finished piece as a separate print job. One judge commented: “Waste is very expensive and the SmartScaner is an innovative way to avoid it.”

Scodix Ultra Pro.
Scodix Ultra Pro.

Scodix Ultra Pro with Foil Digital Enhancement Press (Scodix). The Scodix Ultra Pro with Foil Digital Enhancement Press can print eight different applications and combinations of applications. The judges were struck by the uniqueness of several applications. Scodix Braille is a new way to print documents for the visually impaired. Scodix Crystals uses a high-build polymer to create attention-getting 3D sparkles. Scodix Cast&Cure produces dramatic holographic-looking 3D images. Digital enhancement presses give users new abilities to differentiate their products and price work at a premium.

Screen Truepress Jet520HD.
Screen Truepress Jet520HD.

Truepress Jet 520HD Continuous Feed Roll Inkjet Press (Screen Americas). The Truepress Jet 520HD inkjet web press is a 20” production-class inkjet printer for the commercial print, direct mail and publishing markets. It delivers offset quality printing (1200 x 1200 dpi) with high printing speeds. However, the judges zeroed in on the specially-developed ink system that gives 520HD owners the ability to print on the same coated litho stocks without pretreatment or primer, that they currently use on their offset presses. Customers confirmed the breakthrough.

Image Test Labs – Image Grader TM (TechnologyWatch). The Image Grader technology offers companies a method to assess and improve the image quality of their offset and digital presses. After printing test pages and sending them for analysis by Image Test Lab’s automated system, companies receive an easy-to-understand report with A, B and C grades for each attribute. The judges were won over by the system’s ability to pinpoint imaging problems by comparing performance to similar presses in the database and, when possible, suggest fixes.

The awards will be presented to companies before an audience of industry leaders during the 2017 Printing Industries of America Premier Print Awards and InterTech Technology Awards Gala, September 10 in Chicago, Illinois. A technology review booklet showcasing all of the year’s entries will be distributed at the Print 17 tradeshow, and with the August/September issue of Printing Industries of America – The Magazine.


Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.