Why to use Densitometer in Offset Printing

Food for Thought - Densitometer

densitometer is a device that measures the degree of darkness (the optical density) of a photographic or semitransparent material or of a reflecting surface. The densitometer is basically a light source aimed at a photoelectric cell. It determines the density of a sample placed between the light source and the photoelectric cell from differences in the readings. Modern densitometers have the same components, but also have  electronic  integrated  circuitry for better reading.

DensitometerDensity is the level of darkness in a negative or positive film or print. The measurement of density is called densitometry. An instrument called a densitometer is used to measure the density. The density of a photographic positive or negative is a result of the amount of silver dye developed in the film or photographic paper. In printed copy, density is caused by the light-stopping ability of the pigments in the printing ink that are deposited on the paper by the printing process. Densitometers are widely used in the graphics industry to help control color in each step of the printing process.

Types of densitometers

There are three types of densitometers:

  1. Transmission - A transmission densitometer measures the amount of light transmitted through a transparent material. It determines the opacity for different areas of an original transparency or of the processed film negative or positive.
  2. Reflection - A reflection densitometer measures the amount of light being reflected from a surface, such as a reflection original. The reflection readings are also used to calculate total dot gain, hue error, grayness, and other characteristics in printed pieces.
  3. Combination - A densitometer that measures both reflection and transmission densities.

Density and opacity are the same thing but they are measured differently. Density is measured with readings that run on a scale from 0 to 4.0, with the highest number having the greatest density. Opacity is measured in decimal numbers ranging from 1 to 100. The higher the number, the great the opacity.

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