Stochastic Screening: Better Images for Less Money?
Although the service itself does not generally raise printing costs, paper quality standards can jack up printing costs. Most printers recommend #3 coated sheets or better for consistent, flat images for smoother results. " In my opinion, the two most important things to note when considering stochastic is the quality of paper you’re using and the quality of the images in your magazine," says Jeff McEnaney, director of pre-press operations and quality for IPC Print Services. McEnaney has been working with stochastic for two years.
The most notable benefit of stochastic, according to users, is moir reduction. Moir does not exist when there are no screen angles, leading to a noticeable color benefit, especially in lighter flesh tones and pastels. But there are some downfalls to the method, including piling, an effect of printing that puts too much ink on the paper, which can pull the coating off of the paper. According to McEnaney, many pre-press manufacturers have the ability to do stochastic, but shy away from it due to the piling risks. "The ink and water balance have to be right," he says.
For the most part, printers are still testing the waters when it comes to stochastic. "We have the capability of doing it but we haven’t seen a very vigorous demand for it," says vice president of sales for Fry Communications, Steve Grande. "We have the software and plating equipment. It makes sense for certain type products and for others it doesn’t." Even so, Frye says stochastic options have been creating a bit of a buzz related to the rising costs of oil.
"Some people are believing that stochastic printing combined with strong grey component replacement technology may provide some ink efficiencies, whether or not that all pans out remains to be seen," he says. For more on stochastic screening, read FOLIO:’s June issue.