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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Commercial Printing: New Technology Saves Both Toner and Money

A colleague brought to my attention an article from, “The Print Tech That’s Turning Saving Pixels into Saving Millions,” written by David Shamah and reprinted from Tel Aviv Tech.

The article describes a new commercial printing technology developed by an Israeli company, Preton, that shaves off the edges of pixels when depositing toner on paper. The technology is based on the fact that computer monitors produce images with square pixels, while digital printers create images using round spots. As digital printer drivers convert square pixels into circles for printing, they enlarge the round spots, “trying to ‘recreate’ the squares on the screen,” causing them to overlap, and using an unnecessary amount of toner or ink.

According to Shamah’s article, Preton’s Pixel Optimizer technology “uses proprietary algorithms [to] determine which pixels can be removed, and deletes them.” Due to dot gain, the ink or toner expands on the printed sheet as it enters the paper fibers, smoothing out the gaps where the toner had been removed.

The custom printing process actually saves a lot of money over time, since the greatest expense in digital printing is the ink or toner (50 to 60 percent of the total cost, according to Ori Eizenberg, CEO of Preton).

Are There Other Uses for Preton’s Pixel Optimizer?

Based on my reading of David Shamah’s article, it seems that the target audience for Preton’s Pixel Optimizer technology is the corporate world. The article refers to a system administrator’s ability to control toner usage as well as the added reporting functionality of the technology, which creates an audit trail of networked printers and their toner usage.

What I would find interesting is the application of the same technology to digital printers used in a commercial printing venue. For example, does every digital platform from Kodak’s NexPress to the HP Indigo face the same issue when converting square pixels to round printer spots, and would similar pixel reduction capabilities conserve ink and toner for commercial printing establishments as well as corporations? Or do the NexPress and Indigo already have toner reduction capabilities?

Furthermore, since inkjet printing is essentially a dithering process on large-format digital presses, would Preton’s Pixel Optimizer even be appropriate? More specifically, on large-format flatbed presses such as the Inca Onset, since the print heads spray a scatter pattern (FM screening, or dithering) of minuscule spots of ink rather than round dots (as on a digital laser printer), would there even be a place for pixel optimizing technology on such a digital press?

According to David Shamah’s article, the Spanish government’s social security agency (Seguridad Social) has saved $1.2 million annually over the past few years with Preton’s Pixel Optimizer. If the technology were applied to digital commercial printing, would the toner reduction in large and small digital printing shops across the United States add up to a considerable savings?

Finding More Cost-Savings in Printing

Preton’s technology actually exemplifies a much larger issue. In general, as a lot of custom printing work migrates to digital platforms, technology that saves money will be big. Digital presses reduce makeready and waste to almost nothing. Even contemporary offset presses can now achieve spot-on color quickly enough to make short press runs economical. Going forward, I think that offset and digital printing will keep their relevance if they meet two criteria:

  1. They must be economical, compared to all-digital communications, which require no ink or toner, no paper, and no warehousing of printed products.
  2. And they must provide value unavailable on a computer monitor.

The second criterion is being addressed by such tactile coatings as Miracure Soft Touch UV. Anything that appeals to the sense of touch will set printing apart from digital-only media.

And Preton’s Pixel Optimizer is addressing the first criterion, saving money in printing. In the near future, I think there will be an abundance of technologies geared toward reducing the cost of putting ink and toner on paper.

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