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CIP3--Digitizing Prepress, Delivering Promise

June 1998

The sixth installment of Printing Impressions' yearlong focus on CIP3 activities turns to Agfa Div., Bayer Corp., and the prepress innovator's introduction of CIP3-compliant architecture within its Apogee PDF-based Workflow Production System. Apogee PrintDrive, a multi-page buffer for more than one RIP, is the newest member of Agfa's family of RIPs—and its most innovative workflow enhancement, to date, from a CIP3 standpoint.

Currently, Agfa, one of the founding members of the CIP3 consortium, is working closely with MAN Roland and other press manufacturers to define and refine the digital links between prepress and press.

Apogee, which comprises the Apogee PrintDrive output manager, Apogee Pilot Manager and the Apogee PDF RIP family, is a completely integrated, PDF-based workflow system.

The Print Production Format (PPF) file is syntactically identical to a PostScript file and adheres to the PostScript specifications. A PPF file can be part of the PostScript file that is consumed by the RIP to create images, but can also live on its own.

With the upcoming importance of PDF and job tickets, the CIP3 consortium has decided to start the development of a second encoding of the CIP3 format. Indeed, the information found in a CIP3 file is precisely the information that one would wish to find in a job ticket. Two encodings will then exist: PostScript and PJTF. It will be necessary to define and create converters from one to the other.

CIP3 IS an issue of survival. True, it might not yet be at a high level of acceptance or implementation, or even widespread acknowledgement at major industry trade shows and conferences. But CIP3 is here, it is viable and it will, eventually, create a chasm of distinction between the digital haves and have nots.

That opinion comes courtesy of Agfa Div., Bayer Corp.—and a growing fleet of prepress, press and postpress suppliers and daring commercial printing firms testing and fully implementing CIP3 technologies into an array of printing environments.

"CIP3 is part of a strategy—the deliverance of the fully automated print plant," reports Agfa's Rick Littrell, senior product line manager for CTP output systems worldwide.

"CIP3 is bigger than a digital platesetter, it's bigger than the box. It provides the method to allow the automation of the entire printing operation from customer service to the loading dock," he says. "CIP3 is an enormous chunk of technology designed to connect prepress, press, postpress and virtually every other aspect of a print job's life cycle."

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