by Patricia Ames
Konica Minolta Business Solutions recently introduced the IQ-501 Intelligent Quality Optimizer, an automated color and image control system. With so many dealers looking for revenue streams outside of traditional office print, different areas of commercial and production print have become a hot topic, and we recently attended Print 17, where the IQ-501 system received a “Must See ‘Em” award. We wanted to learn more about this system, which integrates into the AccurioPress product line, and so we sat down with Dawn Olson, who is responsible for Konica Minolta’s U.S. production print and industrial print business development strategy.
What makes IQ-501 so unique?
Where other solutions rely on wholly digital collection and processing of registration, color fidelity, and image quality on sheets in process, Konica Minolta’s approach combines digital spectrophotometric technology with in-line scanners measuring every sheet during the print run. So, as the IQ-501 system’s spectrophotometer function enables a constant bit-by-bit performance data feed to the controller, the scanners enable an instantaneous, two-sided, whole-image feedback loop that allows the controller to measure image-based results with minimal processing time and bandwidth. The results are a quantum leap forward for digital press owners and operators looking for print perfection and highly efficient controller performance, by enabling registration and image quality to become more or less “muscle-memory,” while giving the controller greater latitude to do the heavy lifting and process the harder stuff – such as variable data and images.
How does IQ-501 work?
IQ-501 resides in the paper path behind the main printing engine. Its embedded spectrophotometer measures control targets like color bars, characterization charts, or calibration scales – at rated press speed — to align, correct, and control color reproduction in accordance with an array of industry specifications, including G7, GRACoL, SWOP and FOGRA standards. During two-sided operation, IQ-501’s dual CCD scanners capture digital images of both sides of the printed sheet in one pass, at rated press speed, automatically measuring and correcting image alignment issues such as skewing or paper distortion at the tiniest deviation, before it results in a wasted sheet. This ensures spot-on Side 1 / Side 2 alignment of cutting, folding, and other marks for bindery operations and other post-print processes. And for printers looking to expand their menu of services, IQ-501 makes well-registered 400gsm-weight or banner printing, as offered on the AccurioPress C6100, for example, virtually foolproof, even for less experienced operators.
What puts the “intelligence” in the IQ-501?
As is true of any digital solution designed for high-quality output, the AccurioPress digital presses can be manually adjusted by an experienced operator to tweak print values to the finest conceivable tolerances. With IQ-501 on board, however, virtually every setting can be optimized for a given application or customer, saved for that application or customer, and using the specified pre-settings, the same output quality will result regardless of whether the operator is the most seasoned on the team, or its newest member. Using those presets, with a single button push from the operator control panel, the IQ-501 automatically measures printed targets to adjust the print engine for proper CMYK solid densities, color uniformity across the sheet, tonal calibration, and ICC paper profile creation. The system continually and automatically monitors and corrects color and image alignment during press runs, without operator intervention, through closed-loop data and image feeds to the print engine and the digital front end.
Is this just for large shops, or can small print providers benefit as well?
With the use of the AccurioPro Cloud Eye fleet connectivity, any IQ-501-equipped AccurioPress linked to Cloud Eye can be calibrated with other similarly-equipped [IQ-501] and connected presses, real-time, to ensure consistent and accurate color across multiple presses or facilities. For smaller print providers, this means effortless, consistent, large-volume output of any given application regardless of which operator, — or, for example, which shop in a print cooperative — is doing the printing. For larger distributed single-owner operations, such as several campuses of a university in-plant shop, or multiple franchise owners serving a single, large, distributed client, IQ-501 and Cloud Eye allow any operator in any location to replicate e.g. precise branded colors and logo, on every application, every shift, every press, every run, and every print.
Patricia Ames is senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 10 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community. Follow her on Twitter at @OTGPublisher or contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.