One of the most challenging jobs in print is printing Premium Trading Cards. Printing them requires command of color, precision print, high security, and speed to delivery. Without a solid workflow, it would be impossible for a company to meet all criteria. For Millennium Print Group in North Carolina, the answer was PRINERGY and COLORFLOW Pro software.
Millennium Print Group was built to deliver high end trading cards, which involves intense color management, precise proofing, and exceptional printing. Beginning with a single press and platemaker, today they have eight presses and two output devices running KODAK TRILLIAN Plates. They are still growing.
Wayne Bailey, Digital Prepress Manager at Millennium, says that PRINERGY was the workflow of choice from the start. He had worked with it from the time it was introduced to the market, and he knew it would be robust enough for his demands. It allows everyone to work at top efficiency even as they adjust their workflow over time.
But, in the beginning, they managed color quality and consistency by eye using popular color tools. That human element introduced variation that wasn’t compatible with the rest of their workflow. Then, Kodak introduced COLORFLOW Pro to the PRINERGY offering.
Saji Koruth, Prepress Manager for Color Quality, says that ColorFlow changed everything. He began working with the Kodak team on his first day at Millennium to learn COLORFLOW Pro and Ink Optimization. To start efficiently, Millennium contracted with Kodak Color Services to create the optimum work paths. The Kodak team has been the coach on the color team, helping Koruth and the prepress staff to become COLORFLOW masters. The Kodak team is also available by phone when needed to help resolve color and ink optimization challenges.
Koruth had to unlearn habits from years of using Harmony curves and his own visual evaluations because, with COLORFLOW color quality is based on the numbers. This is important because they must match colors developed exclusively for non-standard cards and tighter than industry norms. He says that with COLORFLOW Color Space conversions along with Tonal Control, he can control his color environment. “It’s color-by-numbers, “Koruth says. “I can control the amount of ink going into the press. I can control the plate, press, proof profiles and curves from one source.”
Before COLORFLOW, they struggled with curves and visual matching that added time to their makeready. Their customer comes for visual press checks, and if they see even the smallest anomaly, an adjustment must be made. It used to take as many as five iterations to meet the customer requirement, with significant time and cost associated with every iteration.
With COLORFLOW Pro they are quicker, better, and faster. Their reputation for color quality and consistency has developed a loyal following, with some customers moving their primary color setup work to Millennium. And the print work followed. They consider their proficiency with COLORFLOW Pro to be their competitive differentiator. They continue to subscribe to Kodak Color Services to optimize their skills.
Bailey says moving to COLORFLOW Pro brings mathematical precision to the process, reducing makeready time by 75%. Without PRINERGY and COLORFLOW Pro he would need more employees and production would take more time and experience more variability. “Once we profile a press to a specific condition, it becomes a paint-by-numbers solution. We match the proof. And if we don’t match the proof because we aren’t hitting the densities or dot gains, we know how to fix it using Tonal Control.” He noted that the work is correct the first time it goes to the press 75% of the time and 70% of the time the customer signs off after they see the first sheet. With customer requirements to match within 1.5 delta E, the ability to get to signoff in the first iteration is an achievement.
The automation is so complete that even when managers go on vacation, there is no concern about the production work. The team is comfortable working with the Tonal Control features to bring any job into alignment and deliver print quality the customer demands. Even the press operators have learned to trust the numbers. They know that if they follow the process, the press will be dialed in for the job, and the color will be accurate. No reruns. No waste due to color issues.
For this seven-year-old company, PRINERGY, COLORFLOW Pro, and Kodak Color Services provide the infrastructure for dramatic growth. Their workflow has made them the most reliable, trusted partner for their trading card customers.
Kodak, Prinergy, ColorFlow and Trillian are trademarks of Eastman Kodak Company.