CTP 101 

Apr 01, 2003

Successfully implementing CTP requires printers to manage the transition to a dramatically transformed manufacturing process. This article will review key concerns for quick and small commercial printers evaluating an all-digital workflow. When you eliminate film in favor of bits and bytes, your digital infrastructure must be able to keep up with production. You'll need up-to-date hardware and software

Real-world MIS 

Apr 01, 2003

In the February feature Making the best MIS choice, we reviewed management-information-system (MIS) trends and selection guidelines. In this article, we'll highlight some users' MIS motivations. United Printing: Faster estimates Ever since it opened its doors in 1966, United Printing (Bismarck, ND) has used Franklin Estimating Systems' (Salt Lake City) offset pricing books. But after more than 30

DAM: Solving asset-retrieval, storage and sharing issues 

Apr 01, 2003

Digital-asset-management (DAM) options range from $200, single-user desktop systems to million-dollar enterprisewide systems. Products include: Entry-level image libraries/catalogs that reside on the desktop or workgroup Asset repositories employing client/server technology High-end enterprise systems for handling everything from office documents to video files. In general, midrange asset-repository

Controllers for digital printers 

Mar 01, 2003

A digital printing system, whether it's a desktop unit, a black-and-white copier/printer, a production color copier or a digital press, has two main components: the print engine and the print controller. The engine and the controller are often developed and manufactured separately, and later integrated into the final product. The print controller is responsible for interfacing with a host system and

The new contract proof 

Feb 01, 2003

What criteria determine acceptability for a manufacturing process based on visual perception? For most high-quality printers, a key part of the workflow has been the contract proof. Printers wishing to provide outstanding value to their customers now have an expanding range of options, even while budgets and timeframes shrink. Contract proofs have changed dramatically during the past 30 years. Yet

Color management 

Jan 01, 2003

Color management for commercial printers reaches the mainstream

Demystifying digital asset management 

Nov 01, 2002

The concept of digital asset management (DAM) is often misunderstood. Options range from $200, single-user desktop systems to million-dollar enterprise wide systems. This article will review the basics and provide some guidelines for evaluating DAM options. DAM can be defined as the organization and management of digital assets and the metadata that describes those assets. One of the most important

Standards update 

Oct 01, 2002

A graphic-arts pundit once compiled the following phrases to describe the standards-development process: intensely exacting, overly theoretical, concerned with minutiae, unforgiving and just plain boring. While participating on a standards committee is not a rollicking good time, these groups do play a vital role in boosting printers' productivity. We asked some well-known standards gurus to share

Implementing color management 

Oct 01, 2002

What is color management? Depending on whom you ask, it can mean anything from using a densitometer to calibrating monitors to eyeballing jobs against originals. But the recently released International Color Consortium (ICC) (Reston, VA) specification, as well as supporting software and hardware tools, enable users to achieve more accurate color reproduction with less cost and effort. An ICC-developed,

Four-up CTP: Don't forget the plates 

Sep 01, 2002

We profiled smaller-format and midsize CTP users in August's Four-up CTP: cheaper, better, faster, more (p. 28). We continue our focus on CTP in this issue, with more user profiles and with slightly more emphasis on the plate side of the equation. According to a recent report by UK-based graphic-arts analysts Vantage Strategic Marketing, CTP plates accounted for 18 percent of the total plate market

Four-up CTP: cheaper, better, faster, more 

Aug 01, 2002

In 2001, PIA (Alexandria, VA) reported that about one-half of U.S. commercial web printers have CTP capability, compared with one-tenth of sheetfed, four-up commercial printers. At Print 01, it was clear that vendors were determined to help small and midsize printers enter the all-digital age, a trend expected to continue this fall at Graph Expo. While cost advantages of CTP over film may still be

GREETINGS from Filetown, U.S.A. 

Jul 01, 2002

It's a rare dot-com success story. Founded in November 1999, 4by6.com (Oakland, CA) began life as a gang-run printer, doing only 2 3.5-inch business cards, and 4 6-inch and 6 8-inch postcards. Its founding officers had always intended it to be a dot-com enterprise, however, and they began researching and developing an e-commerce architecture. Now, nearly three years later, 4by6.com still prints only

Imposition proofing 

Jul 01, 2002

The imposition process has become much more predictable in the past decade. It was once a procedure performed painstakingly by hand; the image assembler and his or her folding dummy, however, have since been eclipsed by the widespread adoption of digital workflows, digital imposition software and large-format output devices. Even with these improvements, mistakes can still occur. Advertisements may

PDF workflows for today and tomorrow 

Jun 01, 2002

While many tools were developed to streamline the desktop-publishing process, the workflow had its limitations. First, you started with a suite of creation applications, then assembled the content using various layout tools. But the consolidated document wasn't for distribution; it was just a preparation for PostScript processing, which could move it into a more deliverable form, such as print. If

Paying for CTP 

May 01, 2002

Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, claims that trends are created through the slow spread of user-to-user interactions and casual observations rather than marketing campaigns. This may explain why print shops that resisted CTP marketing hype in the late 1990s are now embracing the digital world. Most CTP vendors offer elaborate spreadsheets for calculating ROI. Unfortunately, most are

CTP moves forward 

May 01, 2002

Last month's Ipex continued the run of industry shows that offered glimpses into today's CTP trends. New product introductions largely focused on the now-resonant themes of violet technology and the next step of photopolymer plates, and the holy grail of thermal processless. While not all of these technologies and product introductions will come to market in the near future, four- and even two-up

Publication printers hop on SWOP 

Apr 01, 2002

Unless a publisher doesn't accept advertising, or creates all of its ads, publication printers must cope with ad proofs coming from dozens of sources. To ensure that this hodgepodge of proofs will work together on press, everyone from designers to ad agencies to magazine publishers to printers must adhere to industry guidelines, such as GRACoL and SWOP. GRACoL (General Requirements for Applications

Do you want dots with that digital proof? 

Apr 01, 2002

A few years ago, prepress managers and pressroom supervisors chorused Where's the dot? when confronted with stochastically screened inkjet proofs. Today, conventional wisdom would have us believe that dots are no longer necessary in a digital proof. Nonetheless, some are reluctant to part with the direct correlation between dots on a proof and dots on the press sheet. Indeed, as the price of established

Digital workflows meet the content creator 

Mar 01, 2002

Talk of digital workflows tends to focus on how the technology affects a printer's day-to-day operations. But in this age of cross-media publishing, printers also need to step back and consider their clients' (the content creators') workflows. The need for digital content and its increased repurposing has caused many content creators to shift from an analog-to-digital workflow to an all-digital one.

Remote proofing: close at hand 

Feb 01, 2002

Although proofing methods have changed, the method of delivering proofs to collaborators across town or across country has largely remained the same. Overnight couriers, such as FedEx, have been a mainstay in the graphic arts industry, ferrying proofs between printers and their customers. Remote hard-copy proofing the transmitting and printing of proofs at customer or agency sites offers a means to

Film is surviving but is it thriving? 

Jan 01, 2002

Despite all the apparent signs to the contrary, computer-to-film is still alive if not kicking in a particularly robust manner in the U.S. marketplace, reports Barry Happ, principal of Vantage Strategic Marketing (VSM), a UK graphic arts consultancy that published the Direct-to Technologies 2000-2005 report in mid-2001. In a nutshell: Film ain't dead yet. Imagesetters have, in fact, outsold platesetters

M'M, M'M GOOD, THAT'S WHAT JDF IS 

Oct 01, 2001

Isn't it ironic? We are all in the communications business, yet as an industry we struggle to communicate business and production process information. Poor communication frequently results in additional work, longer cycle times and higher costs. How can we facilitate total process communication? Job description format (JDF) and its counterpart, Job Messaging Format (JMF), could be the answer. JDF

remote proofing delivers 

Sep 01, 2001

Interest is growing in remote proofing, thanks to improved inkjet printers, color measurement devices and profiling software Direct Digital Design, a 30-person prepress house in Kansas City, KS, has enjoyed a remote-proofing workflow for nearly 10 years with one large client account, Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, MO. Remote proofing is much faster than using FedEx, remarks Ray Flatt, president of

Workflow and the Internet 

Aug 01, 2001

Applications include file transfer, proofing, image editing, database and job management, print procurement The Internet is more than a good content distribution medium it's also an excellent facilitator for publishing workflows. With more than 50 percent of the U.S. population reportedly accessing the Web, the cost of higher bandwidth is decreasing. Cable, DSL and even satellite are enabling graphic

PLATEMAKER and PROOFER: a two-in-one system 

Aug 01, 2001

THE PROOFS USE THE SAME PAPER AS THE FINAL PRINTED PIECE, FURTHER BOLSTERING CUSTOMER CONFIDENCE Great Lakes Graphics (Skokie, IL) is a 60-employee, 65,000-sq.-ft. operation, specializing in packaging, brochures, annual reports and posters. Last summer, owner Vlado Bjelopetrovich challenged the prepress staff to find new technology that would enhance the company's position as a high-quality printer.