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Axel Zoeller--Taking Giant Steps

April 1999
It's been little more than two years since the prepress entity known as Linotype-Hell was swallowed by the German giant, Heidelberg. A pressmaker buying a prepress company? Talk about a visionary move. As 1999 progresses, what is the direction of Heidelberg Prepress? Axel Zoeller, director of prepress marketing for Heidelberg USA, provides some answers—and some speculation.


AXEL ZOELLER is very meticulous—in the very best sense of the word. He is naturally friendly, but remotely guarded. Zoeller (the very Americanized spelling of the traditional German Zöller) is quite the diplomat. His words are carefully selected, almost dutifully crafted, as Printing Impressions calls his attention to matters of importance: the direction of the prepress industry, the impact of Adobe's PDF, the limitations of color management, the hype about digital asset management, the debate regarding thermal imaging—in short, the very lifeblood initiatives of Heidelberg Prepress.

"Heidelberg is definitely committed to the full graphic manufacturing process, and Heidelberg can make all options available. We are carefully watching and shaping developments in various market segments such as PDF, CIP3, color management, and automated workflow and process control from prepress, press to finishing," reports Zoeller, with all the pride of a father bragging about the accomplishments of a son who is both a star athlete and star pupil—perhaps even a Hollywood star to boot.

"Our heritage is to offer cutting-edge technology combined with the best service available. And we are determined to continue to bring major innovations to market," Zoeller continues. "Our philosophy is simple: Grow larger by staying small, to be able to focus on the customer."

Zoeller has been the director of prepress marketing for Heidelberg USA since 1997. Previously, he was the manager of business development for Heidelberg's Latin American prepress sales efforts, based in Miami. Zoeller also worked in sales and product marketing for Linotype-Hell before it was acquired by Heidelberg.

What are his thoughts on the prepress industry at present—and Heidelberg's future direction? Let's ask him . . .

PI: Much of the focus of the prepress industry this past year has been on Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). How will PDF evolve, and how will Heidelberg support it?

Zoeller: "Yes, PDF has dominated workflow discussions for the last year and a half, but the reality up to now has been that PostScript and raster- or RIP-once-output-many (ROOM) workflow solutions like Delta have been, by far, the leading systems installed in the industry. There are a variety of reasons for this, but mostly because they're highly efficient production systems that meet the needs of even high-end applications. Reproducing this type of functionality in a PDF-based workflow is taking a lot more time and resources than people had anticipated.

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