Hybrid printing technology
World over one of the most sought after latest technology in the field of printing sector is the Hybrid Printing. Engaging different printing techniques in one production line to print on the surface for printing (like Paper, Substrate or other material) is called Hybrid printing. Thus the term Hybrid Printing has been coined as a special term for printing process which works with more than one technology in single production line machine.
Hybrid printing enables the printing on any substance with two different printing processes on a single machine such as Offset Printing combined with Digital printing, Flexographic printing combined with Digital printing, any printing process combined with Digital printing or any other two processes like Flexo and Offset in combination or Flexo and Inkjet printing as a pair. Digital printing, with its variable data printing capability is the most preferred player in this process of Hybrid printing as it facilitates printing variable content onto the first line of printed material with another print process, but on the same printing machine in one go.
Do not get confused whether the Hybrid Printing process consists of only two different printing technologies in a single production line machine. Any no of printing technologies can constitute a unit in the configuration of the single production line of machine. But to our knowledge and belief at best only three technologies of printing is in the configuration of the single production line of machine so far as more units with different technologies are difficult to manage in the pre press settings before commencing printing.
The Hybrid system does not limit the combination of two technologies one of which is generally Digital or Ink jet printing. There are certain jobs which require additional prints to enhance their appearance and to make the specific areas denser or the summarized version on them appear more bolder. Even printing with standard three or four color remains insufficient to achieve the object and therefore additional colors are required to overprint on them after completion of the first run. Many such categories are satisfactorily printed by the combination of Offset combined with Gravure printing process, Offset combined with Flexographic process of printing or even Gravure process of printing combined with Flexographic process of printing plus an additional silkscreen process of printing, all in one go, in a single production line of machine. A combination of various printing processes are thus very often used for achieving the print result with added value. This is the magic trend and effect of Hybrid printing in the printers world today.
The one most difficulty faced in the Hybrid printing system is in readying the machine in the pre-press operation stage which is bit complicated and need an expert operator to handle too many different settings for the same variables like, for example, ink settings to meet the dot gain or loss, compensation for color curves and many such other variables as all the initial settings cannot be automated and only manual settings will be required initially. The operator has to efficiently set the units with different processes to ensure that they print in perfection to meet the end result needed.
However, some of the manufacturers claim that their machines are capable of handling everything automatically, ensuring consistent high quality printing no matter what technology was deployed, what substrate was used for print, or what kind of inks are used in each processes. They claim that the workflow engine attached to the machine is capable of recognizing the printing process along with the color value required in that process for each separation and automatically route individual separations to specific workflow operation thus combining the different processes to achieve the end result sought by the customer satisfactorily.
The Hybrid print technology helps in boosting customized printing with short runs without engaging the printed lots moved from one machine to the other as the printing of entire lots undergo printing in one go. The variable data or even variable ‘add on images’ are automatically printed on lots after lots on the same sheets that gets printed first in the first unit of the same machine. The machine need not be stopped after printing few sheets containing certain data after which the data may have to be changed for the next lot. The modified data pre set on different units automatically gets printed on subsequent sheets or lots as printing continues since the data to be printed on them are already pre fed on the computerized console of the second unit which prints the required variable data or add on images automatically.
It is claimed by the manufacturers that the process of Inkjet system when combined with flexographic process of printing or Offset printing produces wide gamut of colors on virtually any substrate which otherwise cannot be achieved by Flexo or Offset printing alone. Thus the Hybrid process of printing is very helpful to the label printing units, Carton and Cardboard box printers using flexographic process, where the cardboard boxes meant for despatch to different locations are kept on printed,lot after lot, incorporating the variable data by Digital printing process without having to stop the press for incorporating the altered data. Similarly en mass production of the posters, advt materiel, covers of costly publications etc are some other areas where the Hybrid printing is found to be very useful.
Many manufacturers are already out with their version of Hybrid print machines. Globally more and more printers are turning towards the Hybrid printing process. However so far it has not come to light whether the Hybrid printing process has been successfully tested for the printing of Currencies or Bank Notes which has several inbuilt security features.