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CIPS--Calculating Costs, Customizing Output

September 1998
BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


In this latest installment in Printing Impressions' yearlong CIP3 focus, BARCO Graphics reports on its company's push to digitize ink key settings—even before Heidelberg's spearheading of CIP3—and the attributes of InkPlanner, an option on BARCO's FASTRIP/B.

Cutting costs. During press makereadies, valuable production time and paper are often wasted. Likewise, ink is an important cost factor in any commercial printing environment. Control over paper and control over ink are goals of every printer, especially those printing operations pursuing CIP3.

An early member of the CIP3 consortium, BARCO Graphics recognized the need for tighter control over all consumables within the production environment.

More specifically, BARCO's Belgium-based team of technical engineers recognized that what was needed to secure tighter reign over consumables in the pressroom may very well be more advanced, intelligent digitization in the prepress.

InkPlanner was the result.

BARCO's plug-in for ink zone presetting information for offset presses, InkPlanner can be generated at the prepress workstation and sent to the remote ink control systems found on the press.

BARCO's Peter De Mol, software R&D manager, Printer Systems Div., and Hans Dewitte, product manager, Packaging and Label Div., have been instrumental in motivating the direction of InkPlanner.

InkPlanner uses a dedicated RIP process or creates a plug-in in the RIP before the pixels are sent to output—for example, a bitmap file, film or a digital plate.

For each selected ink, InkPlanner counts the equivalent solid area of the image as it will be printed, depending on the halftone density of the images; the type of screen; and other variables. These counts are then used to calculate the total ink coverage or the coverage per ink key zone. The latter data can then be sent to the remote ink control system of the press in a specific, chosen format.

Apart from some dedicated formats, InkPlanner's main output format is the CIP3 Print Production Format (PPF) file. This file contains a low-resolution image calculated from the RIP. Contrary to the dedicated formats, the CIP3 file can be sent to a wide variety of presses.

The transport of the CIP3 file can be done in many ways. If the file is rather small, floppy disks can accompany the final plates. This is only feasible if the final format is not too big or if precision can be diminished. The CIP3 format demands 50 dpi for the low-res image, making floppy disks mostly too small for the bigger formats.
 

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