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Print configuration establishes color specifications such as for Color mode, Print quality and Dithering in the second window of the Wizard.


Quality 

The content of this window is driver specific. Quality is usually printer dependent and is provided by the driver specifications of each printer.  In the Advanced… button next to it, you can see and change if necessary printer specific parameters, such as single or bi-directional printing, number of passes, etc. From the button Drop sizes... you can customize the drop sizes from kdots to ml to calculate cost control.


Color Mode

The Color mode is selected from a drop-down list. The available selection depends on the printer specifications. For standard printers some presets will appear on the list, where inkset and order are set automatically. Press button '...' to specify these parameters if the printer has been modified by any third party, or for direct printing models. 


Set color order : On the left side of the window, set the inks in use according to your machine specifications or to the previously printed mini chart. There are many inks available and make sure you select the correct ones. Be careful when selecting Gray and Light Gray, as the latter can only be used if Gray is present. Gray is sometimes called Light Black by certain ink suppliers, and Light Gray would be Light Light Black for those too. 

Fluorescent inks : Fluorescent inks are indicated as Fluor Cyan, Fluor Magenta, Fluor Yellow and Fluor Green and must be not handled as Spotcolors anymore.

Print… : In case you are not sure what ink order is loaded in you printer, you can print out a chart showing a number for each printed base color. Certain printers have a special ink order coming from the driver documentation (e.g. Epson, Mutoh). It is recommended to print out this chart if you are not sure of the order or if you encounter strange color effects during the calibration process (e.g. Black prints Cyan). 

Ink curve : Ink transition curves for single inks. Provides the Coverage (%) function for specific, delicate inks such as Yellow and Pink.


Double Inks

You can place the same ink into different slots multiple times. If you do so, the Double Ink… button is activated and lets you specify the behavior of those inks.


Channel : Toggle between the multiple inks. For each ink you can set an individual curve behavior. The use of multiple inks is basically to make the total color get darker or more saturated. Setting different behaviours for each channel enables special effects, such as minimizing dithering in lighter areas. A consideration in this software-based approach of multiple inks lays upon the fact that certain printheads are more used than others. Finally, the combination of multiple inks, including all the set parameters, are linearized as one new ink. We recommend that at least one channel should be linear and that you should NOT change the parameters after you have linearized the combo. Absolute ink limit calculates the total sum of inks and compares it to the defined maximum value. If this is higher then lower, all the inks proportionally, except the Black, to keep the shadows. When you have two blacks in the inkset, you have to decide which one of the two will remain untouched after the ink limit reduction. Therefor the checkbox Master black becomes available in combination of double black inks only. Here one of the black inks can be selected and set as the master black ink to keep untouched. 

View curve : It presents the behavior of the curve for the selected ink. Make sure that it looks smooth, if you want to obtain homogeneous results. You can change the Start, Body and End by increasing or decreasing the values below.

  • Start: This value defines where the ink starts. 25 means that the selected channel will not print below 25% of original coverage.
  • Body: This value defines where the ink starts. You can try different values to evaluate which ones are the most suited to deliver a smooth shape. 75 is a good value if Start s at 25% and End at 100%.
  • End: This value should usually be set at 100, since the idea is to get darker color. Note, however, that in some cases you might have too much ink, and you may have to reduce it in the ink cut procedure, which will be explained further on in this manual.


Mask

If you have special inks loaded, such as a penetration liquid, dilution ink or mask, you can set parameters for this in the mask channel settings window. The Mask ... button becomes available when you select one of the following inks: Mask or Dilution ink.


Get from alpha channel : As the name says, the image to print requires an additional Alpha channel added to the image, e.g. manually created in Photoshop. The ink then uses the channel information to print the content. Depending on the printer, the ink will be printed in a separate pass or simultaneously with the other inks. 

Full mask : neoStampa will create a flat color underneath the image whenever a pixel is present (with Photoshop: always; with Illustrator or CorelDraw: whenever an object contains a color information, such as white). Note that the full mask generation is only done if the image is in Grayscale, RGB, CMYK or LAB, but not with multichannel files. So, when printing linearization targets the full mask will not print. 

Shadow mask : neoStampa will create an intelligent grayscale mask under the image information according to its color intensity and color darkness. Usually, this mode is used when printing white ink, e.g. for T-shirt printing. Note that the Shadow mask generation is only done if the image is in Grayscale, RGB, CMYK or LAB, but not with multichannel files. So, when printing linearization targets the shadow mask will not print, but it will be generated when printing the ICC target. 

Fill ink : This method is usually used for penetration liquid or for a fill-up ink, such as dilution inks or similar. The penetration liquid is provided by several ink suppliers with the idea of helping inks in lower percentages to penetrate through the textile media. The fill ink method needs specifying an Intensity and Minimal value explained underneath. 

Put ink in white pixels : Usually white pixels do not require a penetration liquid or dilution ink-since the area is not printed anyway- , which results in ink savings. In certain printing environments (e.g. carpet printing using Zimmer ChromoJET800) this check-box helps to create a blocking area around the colored image using dilution ink to prevent colors from bleeding into non-printed areas. Note that "white pixels" refer to an image information with an object containing no color (with Photoshop: always; with Illustrator or CorelDraw: whenever an object is found containing a white color).

Intensity : The Fill ink method will fill up with dilution ink, whenever this specified value is not reached by the absolute amount of other inks in the ink set. So, when you print 10% Cyan+25%Magenta+30%Gray, the absolute amount of ink will be 65%. In this case, neoStampa will automatically add a 35% of dilution ink for better penetration.

Minimum value : Specifying a minimum value for the Fill ink method adds a certain amount to an absolute ink amount in any case. Scenario: If you set intensity to 100% and the Minimum value to 10% and the absolute amount of ink of 25% Cyan+35% Magenta+ 75% Gray exceeds the 100% of specified Intensity, then neoStampa will add another 10% on top of it. This will help the ink to penetrate even more, but can also cause a certain amount of bleeding if applied too much. This value should be used with care.


White Inks

If you have white inks loaded, you can set parameters for this in the white channel settings window. The 'White...' button becomes available when you select one of the following inks: White and White2.



Taking a look on this example image, we can see how the white ink is applied in the image using different modes. 



Copy from extra channel: If the image would use the white background as an extra alpha channels, this option would apply the white ink only by using the extra alpha channel from image. 



Dark and coloured media: As the name says, the white ink will be applied in the light parts in the image printing on dark and coloured media. Using choke size option reduces rendering border pixels using shapes to avoid miss-registration effect when printing colors over the white ink.

Without choke size:

With choke size:



Black media: This mode is used when printing on black media. The white ink will be applied as the base colour to prevent color addition with the black color of media. Using choke size option reduces rendering border pixels using shapes to avoid miss-registration effect when printing colors over the white ink.

Without choke size:

With choke size:


Highlight white: Using this mode will apply the white as the highlight in the image to create special effects on the color printed image. With the 'Amplitude' you can define how much % the white should be used in the light parts of the image. 

1% Amplitude: 

20% Amplitude (default): 


Dithering

neoStampa provides different raster methods. Two of them are the most common to use: Smooth Stochastic (default) and Diffusion v2.

Smooth Stochastic (by default)

This raster is a matrix-based method, which places the dot matrix in the most homogenous way and is recommended for all types of inkjet printers. It is however also a complicated method since, especially with n-level printheads (e.g. 2bit, 3 levels, "grayscale" printheads), the nozzle can suffer from stress. The new Smooth Stochastic method is a complete re-development from very scratch based on the original, previous Smooth Stochastic halftoning. It provides many options to control individual drop levels, drop coverage as well as activating or deactivating single drops. This explanation should give you an overview on the many settings and combinations that can be done mainly to prevent specific printing issues or linearity behavior.

Select the raster method from the drop-down menu. The button '...'  on the right to the list allows to set different types of dots, which we explain following.

The following settings are available only when the printer driver supports 2 bpp (bits per pixel). Otherwise it uses the standard settings as is explained for diffusion and other dithering.

Set drop configuration for the full ink set in coverage (%) and drop weight.

Default coverage values are 80 %, for small and medium droplet sizes, and 100 % for large one. Drop wheight corresponds with each droplet size ratio, where default values are 1.00, 2.00 and 3.00, accordingly. DropRelaxer® relieves the heads using averaged % value, which is set to 5 % as default, as that is the best rate proved to keep print-heads away from stress. Also the configuration can be done per ink when checking Customize per ink.

The button 'Legacy…' opens the dialog to set extra halftone settings in dot gain compensation.


Diffusion v2 (for variable dot printheads only)

This raster is based on a Smooth Stochastic matrix, but adds some error diffusion to the final raster. This method puts holes into the regular matrix in order to give the nozzle time for relaxation. The aim is to prevent banding occurring from the previously mentioned stress factor. The raster method is homogenous as well, but since certain dots are removed it might be that the dot placement does not look as "perfect" as with Smooth Stochastic. You can set the Diffusion v2 amount of error in the three dots placed next to the drop down list (explained later in this tutorial). Available color modes depend on the printer specifications.

Select the raster method from the drop-down menu. 

The button '...'  on the right to the list allows to set different types of dots, which we explain following.

Disable large dot : If you have a delicate media that cannot pick up a lot of ink, disabling the largest dot (available with 2bit / 3 or more level printheads only!) can help. It can also help if the printhead has problems firing the large dot, but this is quite a rare scenario. As the name says, the largest dot will not be produced during rastering. We recommend however not to use this function as reducing ink in the per-channel ink cut provides more control.

Disable small dot : In some printing environment using certain printheads, the small dot never reaches the media since a combination of a small dot with high printing carrier movement speed, and/or electrostatic charge (e.g. using polyester fibre), deviates the dot so much that it is literally blown away. This can cause a lot of residual ink in the environment ,and the dust is placed anywhere, an effect that is certainly not wanted. Using this function switches off the usage of the smallest dots (available with 2bit/3 or more level printheads only ! ).

Only for black ink : If this box is selected in combination with "Disable small dot", then the smallest dot is only omitted in the Black channel(s).

Smoothness : This value becomes available when working with Diffusion v2 raster method in combination with an n-Bit / n-Level printhead. The smoothness defines the amount of error introduced to the matrix raster to avoid stress from the nozzles when firing full-time (mentioned in Dithering Part 1). A smoothness of 10 means that Diffusion v2 does not have any error diffusion (=Smooth Stochastic). By decreasing this value, dots are removed from the regular matrix and the n-Levels of variable drop technology are diffused into each other. A value of 6-9 delivers a good balance between quality and stress-reduction to printheads with variable dot technology. If you go lower than this value, there can be too much noise in the result and the print-out will go grainy. We recommend a value of 7 if you encounter such a firing stress problem. Note that changing to Diffusion v2 or changing the amount of Smoothness requires re-linearizing the printing conditions.

Dot multiplier : This value must be left at "1".  Note: We recommend NOT to change it.


Ordered halftoning

It is possible to establish for each ink the angle of the screen the frequency (l/in, l/cm) and the dot shape, although the most common procedure is to use the same one for all the channels. To select the dot shape, select the list of supporting shapes for printers.

The frequency of the dither can be introduced in lines per inch or centimeter. Based on the resolution of the printer, the software calculates the frequency and angles that best approximates what has been introduced.

Depending on the value of the selected "Super Cell", the adaptations of angles and frequencies will differ.

  • The value 1x1 is the one which best defines the shape of the dot, calculating the angles and frequency which best matches with the resolution of the printer. However, it can sometimes lose gradations of grey tones.
  • The value 4x4 will not define with such precision the shape of the dot, but it generates more gradations of grey tones.


Other dithering halftones

The other dithering halftone methods are based on diffusion method using different types of dots and using the same settings as diffusion method.