Commercial Printing: Understanding Ink Coverage

southeast publication printing company

Commercial Printing: Understanding Ink Coverage

Whether you’re a southeast publication printing company, or one of the sheetfed printing companies interested in commercial printers, chances are you’re always looking for tips, tricks, and suggestions on how to improve your printing process.

Improving Design

One of the easiest ways to improve run ability, design, and the final outcome of a print run is to try and avoid any superfluous ink saturation.

A lot of ink in one spot can result in issues with the printing itself, and even drying problems. That can in turn affect everything, from how quickly you can get the project printed to issues with cutting and finishing. Too much layered ink can also result in muddying and plugging your prints.

Total Area Coverage

As one of the premiere sheetfed printing companies in the region, you know that black and white or monochrome prints are easy to understand, when we’re talking coverage. Highlight areas fall into the 5%-15% tint range and dark shadow areas in the 90% tint range.

But things get more intense with full color images. There are 4 different ink colors, and if you pile all 4 layers of ink at 50% screen, you’re going to get as much as 200% Total Area Coverage. If each layer is 80%, you’ll end up with a combined 320% Total Area Coverage. The rule of thumb, though, is to go no higher than 280%, depending on the type and finish of the paper.

Luckily, with the latest Adobe products, checking Total Area Coverage is as easy as a couple of clicks. Look at Adobe Acrobat as an example: all you do is open the PDF file or image, and open the “output preview” window that you will find under “print production” tools. You then go to the window showing your Separations and find “Total Area Coverage”. Click the checkbox and select your highlight color and then select 260% from the dropdown.

Fixing Issues in Photoshop

Southeast publication printing can make use of Photoshop to fix up certain issues. There are actually a few different ways to adjust the Total Ink Coverage in an image. The easiest and fastest way is in Photoshop, if your images are RGB.

It’s really easy to rely on Adobe’s GCR (Grey Component Replacement) process which is built in. Let’s say you want to get rid of the super saturated built blacks in your image that are the cause of all that excessive ink accumulation. Then, you want to relocate some of the built shadow over to the Black channel. You can then lower the C, M and Y channels proportionately so that they don’t affect the hue, and then enhance the black which will in turn enhance the darkness.

Open up your RGB image in Photoshop and click “color settings” in the Edit menu. Then, choose “Custom CMYK…” in the CMYK dropdown which you’ll find in the Working Spaces part of the window. Next, set the separation options to GCR and set Black Generation to either “heavy” or “maximum”. In the Total Ink Limit Field, put “260%”.

Finally, name the setting and click OK to save it for future use. You can toggle the preview on and off before you click OK and chances are you’ll notice that in most of your images, there will be very little visual change. However, when you set the color mode to CMYK, a lot of the shadows will be pushed to the Black separation.

Benefits of Controlling Total Area Coverage

When you control your Total Area Coverage, you can make sure you get the best possible results from your graphics and photos. For sheetfed printing companies, reducing color shifts and quality issues during the finishing process is essential to pleasing your clients, as is preventing delays brought about by drying time. When you can master your Total Area Coverage, you can produce a better looking product, faster, leaving you and your clients satisfied.

Commercial Printers

If you’d like to know more about the best commercial printer options for sheetfed printing companies, contact the Martin Printing Company. Our southeast publication printing company offers a range of printing solutions for your business needs.