COMPUTER-TO-PLATE -- CTP Editions
A big part of the cost issue for publishers is figuring out who pays for what, which also ties into who does what, Aho points out. If the publisher is used to working with a third-party prepress operation that supplied stripped-up flats, what happens to that relationship—and the corresponding charges—when files are being supplied to the printer? Also, publishers typically can't pass along the cost of copy-dot scanning ad films, but they may not have the expertise or infrastructure to handle digital ads—should advertisers be willing and able to provide them.
To an extent, the costs associated with implementing an all-digital workflow can be offset by gains in production efficiency, the prepress superintendent points out. "Banta definitely sells the improvements in pricing and cycle time," he says, "but the advantages vary depending on the file format provided and level of proofing required."
When it comes to digital ads, Aho says BPG does get TIFF/IT files, but has yet to see any PDF-X files. "If the industry could get every advertiser to deliver even one of the two formats it would be a major improvement, since many publishers are still getting poorly created digital ads," he adds. "Most of our customers do preflight their own digital ads, and store the files themselves in order to save money."
The problems publishers can encounter in managing an all-digital workflow often are exacerbated by turnover in production staffs, the prepress superintendent says. "We frequently find that we spend a lot of time training a production manager only to have the person leave for greener pastures. This can upset the entire production process if the new person doesn't know how to place ads, preflight files, create reliable Quark documents and so on."
At its current state of development, the technology side of the equation is much less trying than the workflow issues, Aho says. He believes the biggest selling point of the thermal imaging process is the quality of the printing dot it produces.