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Graph Expo 2003

Nov 1, 2003 12:00 AM


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Approximately 580 vendors occupied 375,000 sq. ft. at Chicago's McCormick Place to showcase their wares at Graph Expo this past month.

Both printers and vendors joined forces to announce the creation of The Print Council, an alliance dedicated to promoting print. Members currently include Agfa, Electronics for Imaging (EFI), Franchise Services Inc., Heidelberg, IBM, International Paper, Mail-Well, MAN Roland, Pitney Bowes, Presstek, Quad Graphics, Roll Systems, Sandy Alexander, Scitex Digital Printing, The Sheridan Group, Sun Chemical, Williamson Printing and Xerox, as well as some consulting and publishing firms. A specific timetable wasn't given, but the group's goals include raising people's awareness of print, educating media buyers and researching critical trends. (See theprintcouncil.org.)

Few surprises

While there were few true surprises at the show, Graph Expo featured interesting process-automation and business diversification developments. As we approach Drupa — “the coming-out party for JDF,” according to some pundits — many companies are attempting to ensure seamless connectivity between multivendor equipment.

Creo (Billerica, MA), for example, announced the expansion of Networked Graphic Production (NGP), a strategic initiative it launched two years ago to promote JDF-based integration between participants' systems. NGP now has more than 25 members, including Adobe (software); DiMS!, Printcafe, Primac, Prism, Radius and Streamline Solutions (MIS); Xerox (digital print); KBA, Komori, MAN Roland and Mitsubishi (press); and Müller Martini and MBO (postpress). To ensure good integration among their equipment, NGP members have agreed to define and use a standardized set of JDF-based interfaces.

Heidelberg (Kennesaw, GA) announced plans to collaborate with EFI (Foster City, CA) and Printcafe to integrate Printcafe's print-management software to Heidelberg presses “through open JDF connections as specified by the CIP4 organization.” As part of this agreement, Heidelberg, which offers Prinance, an MIS for small to midsize printers, also will refer larger North American printers to Printcafe's Hagen OA product as appropriate.

In addition to introducing new server options, EFI led all vendors in workflow announcements:

  • Presstek (Hudson, NH) will offer EFI's Velocity OneFlow prepress software with its Dimension platesetters

  • Screen (USA) (Rolling Meadows, IL) will resell Velocity OneFlow and also announced it will collaborate with EFI and Printcafe (Pittsburg) to integrate Printcafe's print-management tools with Screen's CTP devices and Trueflownet workflow

  • Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG) (Norwalk, CT) will sell Velocity OneFlow as the color front-end for its DirectPress 5034 DI press

  • Xerox will integrate its DigiPath production software with Velocity Balance to give users centralized job management, Fiery job ticketing, additional color processing and automatic job-processing capabilities

  • Enovation Graphic Systems (Valhalla, NY) demonstrated a Xerox DocuColor 6060 with EFI's Fiery EXP6000 color server, Velocity OneFlow and Velocity Balance.

New plates

Smaller operations that haven't yet taken the digital plunge are the target of A.B. Dick's (Niles, IL) new two-up Vector 52 platesetter and chemisty-free Freedom plate. Both are manufactured by Presstek.

Presstek also announced the commercial release of Applause, its process-free plate. The wet-offset plate, said to require no intermediate treatment or processing, can be used for runs up to 100,000 impressions.

KPG debuted its Sword Excel thermal plate, which doesn't require pre- or postbaking. The negative-working Excel can be used for runs of up to 500,000 impressions; resolution is reportedly one to 99 percent at 200 lpi, making it compatible with 20- and 10-micron stochastic screening.

Printing Developments, Inc. (PDI) (Racine, WI) introduced a replacement for its Eclipse themal CTP plate, the Delta 830. The plate features a proprietary durable polymer surface over a specially treated aluminum base. The Delta 830 doesn't require baking and can be used for runs of up to one million impressions. After imaging, plates are sent through a single-stage, two-minute processor; no hazardous chemicals are used.

Automation even extended to maintainance. Heidelberg and MAN Roland (Westmont, IL) were given “Worth-a-Look” accolades for their solutions.

Heidelberg's Remote service gives customers direct priority access to a help desk, which can then connect to the caller's CP2000 operating platform using the Internet or a modem.

MAN Roland's Rover Remote service consists of a tablet PC equipped with a wireless video camera, a broadband Internet connection and advanced software.

Diversify, diversify, diversify

As many printers well know, there are too many commercial print shops and too little work. Some printers are turning to mailing and fulfillment as a natural extension of their services. Graph Expo featured a Mailing & Fulfillment area with exhibits and free seminars. (See “Capitalizing on mailing and fulfillment,” Sept. 2003.)

The show included new press introductions that will appeal to printers considering expanding into the packaging sector. KBA (Williston, VT) announced the “super large” 11,000-sph Rapida 185 (59½ × 80¾-inch sheet size) and 9,000-sph Rapida 205 (51 × 72¾-inch sheet size). Both presses can print paper, board and corrugated. The first 205, a six-color with extended delivery, will be installed at Challenge Printing (Eden Prairie, MN) at the end of 2004. Challenge specializes in point-of-purchase, commercial and packaging work — the new press will help it expand into display printing.

KBA also announced an inline coating application that allows users to print a job with both silk matte and gloss elements on a five-color press with a single coater and delivery extension. By combining Sun Chemical's HyBryte inks with conventional Pantone 651 C offset inks and Vegra UV varnish, users can create spot-varnish effects, even with full-solid, end-of-the-press coating. No second coater or interdeck dryer is required.

MAN Roland previewed its 73-inch 900 XXL, said to combine an expanded sheet size with the full automation of a 40-inch press. The 990 XXL handles substrates ranging from thin papers to 1.2 mm/0.048-inch carton stock. Applications include book production, catalog printing, labels and plastic production. It can be equipped with a two-roller coater or an anilox roller for applying UV coatings, water-based coatings or metallic pigments.

Heidelberg, too, expanded its packaging presence, showcasing its Dymatrix diecutting system. For the small-format printer, Heidelberg unveiled the Printmaster PM 52, a 20-inch press available in one to five colors with a range of accessories and automation. Applications include advertising work, brochures, business cards and stationery. Graph Expo also was the U.S. debut of the SM 52-D, a Speedmaster equipped with a rotary inline diecutting unit. (See “Diecutting: the shape of things to come,” on p. 41.)

You'll find more Graph Expo highlights on the following pages. Look for additional product news — including some digital-press and stochastic screening highlights — in our December issue.

Graph Expo Must See 'ems

Industry experts, led by Bill Lamparter, president of PrintCom Consulting (Charlotte, NC), identified “Must See 'ems,” the most compelling Graph Expo products and exhibits. Agfa (Ridgefield Park, NJ); Creo (Billerica, MA); Heidelberg (Kennesaw, GA); MAN Roland (Westmont, IL); Müller Martini (Hauppage, NY) and Xerox (Rochester, NY) were singled out for their booth presentations.

  • Dalim Software's (New Orleans) MiSTRAL is a JDF-compliant, Web-based common electronic-submission interface and print-production management system for tracking, administration, assembly, correction and approval of “publishable material.” It can also share ODBC-compliant data between the prepress workflow application and business systems on other computers. Project status views — color-coded page icons — are available in real time from a Web browser, as well as JPG thumbnails and PDF full views of completed pages.

    Dalim's PRiNTEMPO automates the production of imposed pages. This system — also browser-based and JDF-compliant — can automatically prepare flats based upon specs from previous jobs. Pages are automatically or manually positioned. Each page is input, preflighted, cleaned and imposed. Real-time page status is defined by user-specified icons. JPG thumbnails and PDF views of completed pages provide signature soft proofing. PRiNTEMPO works with common browsers on any platform — and in any open hardware/software prepress environment.

    “Worth-a-Look”: DiALOGUE is a standalone Mac OS X product that provides remote, collaborative Web viewing and soft proofing of high-resolution files in a wide range of file formats. Because DiALOGUE streams data to browsers, users view files in high resolution in real time. Users can zoom, navigate, place virtual notes, take densitometer readings and “chat” in real time — without client software.

  • Heidelberg USA's (Kennesaw, GA) Speedmaster 52-D is a 20 × 14-inch press with inline diecutting and perfecting. The diecut unit is housed in a modified coating unit. The SM 52-D also can crease and perforate.

    “Worth-a-Look”: Heidelberg's Supercolor is a PDF plug-in for centralized color-management control. Supercolor checks the PDF for all the color spaces, ICC profiles and special colors used, providing a means for quickly identifying potential errors. It shows colors and color spaces used in the PDF and enables them to be processed individually. Special colors can be renamed, combined, deleted or converted to process colors.

  • Heidelberg Web's Sunday 3000/32 web-offset press is the world's first single-circumference web press with an eight-plate-across cylinder configuration. The press prints 32 magazine-size pages per revolution at up to 100,000 iph, making it a compelling alternative to 16-page presses in two-web configurations and to double-circumference presses. Web width is up to 72 inches, cutoffs are 21½ to 24.41 inches. Gapless blankets eliminate vibrations.

    “Worth-a-Look” (Variable imaging): NexPress 2100 has an improved digital front-end, the NexStation II. Users can qualify their own substrates, prioritize print jobs, view capabilities prior to print and do production reporting.

  • Integrated Color Solutions' (ICS) (Greenville, SC) Remote Director reportedly is the first SWOP-certified, display-based contract-proofing solution. Remote Director is said to verify the accurate, consistent viewing and annotations of color images on computer monitors in different locations all from the same source file, thus eliminating geographical barriers and speeding the workflow.

    “Worth-a-Look”: Press Check, an optional feature sold separately, scans a press sheet and automatically sends the resulting image to remote locations. To ensure accurate color matching, the process is color managed.

  • Markzware's (Santa Ana, CA) FlightCheck Professional uses a drag-and-drop interface to scan a wide variety of file types, including InDesign, QuarkXPress, PDF, PageMaker, Multi-Ad Creator, Illustrator, Photoshop, FreeHand, CorelDRAW and more. FlightCheck inspects a document using hundreds of available checks. It warns the operator about any potential problems that may reside in a digital file and verifies critical file elements, such as color space and resolution, ensuring validity.

  • Müller Martini's (Hauppage, NY) Presto/Multi 450 combines a Presto saddlestitching system with a Multi 450 diecutter to create a single-pass production line for producing miniature saddlestitched booklets from printed signatures. Applications include miniature booklets, CD and DVD inserts and pharmaceutical materials. The saddlestitcher and diecutter can both operate as standalone units.

‘Worth-a-Look’: individual products

  • Agfa's (Ridgefield Park, NJ) Delano is a Web-based software system that streamlines and automates print/publishing planning, staffing, scheduling and tracking. Project teams and customers share a common virtual workspace where they inspect, track, preview, review, proof (remote or onsite) and approve all project-related information in real time. Data is gathered in an intelligent, JDF-enabled digital job bag, which provides full job descriptions, analyzes best-in-class workflows, automates reprints and streamlines production.

  • Electronics for Imaging's (EFI) (Foster City, CA) Fiery S500 server can produce continuous-tone color pages on a variety of high-end color copiers/printers. Intended for high-end commercial-print users, the Fiery S500 has the latest version of EFI's Fiery software. Productivity and color-management features include centralized job management and ColorWise color control.

    EFI's Velocity Exchange is an online application for automating order management, reportedly enabling print providers to gain greater efficiency while enhancing customer service. Through a secure, controlled interface, customers can submit job orders online and track progress with real-time job-status updates. Once orders are submitted, a range of digital tools enhance the in-shop workflow, from order receiving to remote proofing to approvals.

  • Enfocus Software's (San Mateo, CA) CertifiedPDF.net is the online communication hub for PDF creators and receivers with up-to-date PDF specifications and in-depth resources. Contributing members (leading printers, publishers and industry organizations) publish PDF specifications and supporting documentation. Once subscribed to a specification, everyone in the workflow receives automatic change notifications to further ensure a consistent PDF workflow.

  • Esko-Graphics' (Kennesaw, GA) FastVariants, a component of its FastLane workflow, lets users avoid costly mistakes on double-burn jobs where a plate is changed for another with a different version during a print run. FastVariants also detects problems that make a file unsuitable for double burn. Full-color version pages are quickly split into neutral and version parts. The software checks version pages against a reference to detect problems and provides interactive editor tools to resolve them.

  • Goss International's (Bolingbrook, IL) DigiRail is a low-waste digital inking system that offers RIP pre-setting capability. This closed digital inker eliminates impurities and will be offered on new and existing commercial and insert presses, in addition to newspaper presses.

CIP4/JDF-enabled products

  • Blue ribbons identifying a special “Must See 'em” category, “Computer-integrated manufacturing — JDF Enabled,” adorned the following companies' booths: Adobe, Agfa, Creo, Dalim, Dataflow, DiMS!, EFI, Printcafe, Esko-Graphics, Komori, Markzware.
  • Xerox won “Must See 'em” honors for its DocuColor iGen3 inline perfect-binding printing system.
  • “Worth-a-Look” CIM accolades went to MAN Roland (CIM classroom), Heidelberg (Prinect workflow and Print Ready module), Müller Martini (Bravo Plus AMRYS saddlestitcher).