CIP3?An Ultimate BeginningJanuary 1998
Today, one of the first CIP3 software developers, Ultimate Technographics advises the CIP3 consortium on critical imposition and trapping issues relevant to the standard. What is Watson's opinion of CIP3 at present? It's, well, fair.
"Early implementation testing has concentrated on linking some RIPs from prepress manufacturers to the color control units—this approach, however, has some important limitations," he explains.
"A RIP is incapable of creating a complete CIP3 PPF file because it does not know exactly what information on a complete plate is necessary for folding, cutting and finishing equipment. Even for ink data it is inadequate because often more than one piece of film is used for the plate, so the RIP does not have all the plate data available," he continues.
The RIP also is set to output the dot gain up to the film or plate imaged, but does not take into account the dot gain once the plate is on press through to the paper. This fact, Watson reports, is major.
An Ultimate Contribution
According to Watson, Ultimate is the first to solve these problems because it implemented all the necessary control information in Impostrip to generate complete CIP3 data, and combined this with an Adobe software RIP set to the exact needs of ink control units. This allows for complete plate analysis—even if the plate film is output in pieces—and it allows the setting of factors, like dot gain, to the exact press conditions independent of the RIP that actually images the plate.
The software developer's revamped Impostrip also has the benefit of allowing CIP3 file generation prior to the actual imaging of the plates. This information can be transmitted to the press even before the last plate is ready.
"Ultimate is also solving a problem that many printers have, which is press equipment that does not have a CIP3 input option," Watson reports.
He's referring to Ultimate's INKtouch, which is a universal interface to take CIP3 data—or any PostScript or TIFF data—and convert it to ink zone control data. INKtouch processes all the data for CTP imaging and determines the appropriate ink key settings for each ink zone of a printing press, passing that information to the color control units of the printing press. INKtouch uses a touchscreen on a Windows NT workstation.
"CIP3 is just the beginning of complete computer integration in printing. It is an enabling technology on which entire workflow management systems will be built," Watson projects.
Rest assured that with Watson—who is also president of Harpell Printing, a sheetfed and heatset web printer and book bindery in Montreal and Ottawa—vitally involved in CIP3, the consortium is positioned for great contributions.
Watson would bet Harpell on it. In fact, his successful printing operation is currently implementing a complete CIP3-based workflow. "CIP3 will deliver great promise to the industry," Watson, the printer, assures. "Stay tuned for tremendous advancements."
—Marie Ranoia Alonso
In February, look for the CIP3 activities of Scitex, with a focus on CIP3 as it relates to Scitex's Lotem workflow. Expect to learn about a sampling of the Scitex CIP3 effort—in the United States and abroad.