How would you like deeper reds, brighter blues and more vibrant yellows?

How would you like greater fidelity, more open shadows and finer detail?

Still want more? How about shorter press times, sharper textures and printed images that look more like photography than ever before?

Those are some of the benefits promised by stochastic printing. First launched about a decade ago, only to be rejected by the market, stochastic printing (or, more accurately, stochastic screening) has recently made a comeback with the help of advances in technology. In fact, a rapidly growing number of printers have adopted some variation of the technique, to solve some of the long-standing problems associated with conventional printing and gain a number of other advantages.

The questions are, what sets stochastic apart from conventional printing? How does it work? Are the benefits it promises for real, or are they just hype? And is it right for you?

The answers begin with a comparison: Conventional printing is AM (amplitude modulation). Stochastic printing is FM (frequency modulation).

The vast majority of the commercially printed images that appear today are halftone images, much like the first one that appeared in 1880. Images are printed from plates made using one or more grid-like screens that separate the image into evenly spaced dots that are larger in size, or amplitude, in the dark areas of the image, and smaller in the light areas. In color printing, separate screens are used to reproduce each of the subtractive primaries—cyan, magenta and yellow—and, to add depth and sharpness, black.