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DIGITAL digest

June 2003
System Enables Printers to be Self-Calibrating

WEBSTER, NY—Printed colors have been one of the toughest things to get consistently right because there are so many variables in the production process, whether it is digital or traditional offset. Scientists at Xerox Corp.'s Webster research center now claim to have invented and patented an ultra-fast, low-cost spectrophotometer that they expect to streamline and simplify color printing.

The spectrophotometer is said to cost less than one-sixth the price of current models. It can be embedded inside a digital printer to take color measurements on each passing page in a few milliseconds. As the paper moves at the printer's rates speed, the measurement device shines light of different colors from several LEDs onto tiny printed color patches, analyzes the reflected light and determines its color makeup.

Using Xerox-proprietary control algorithms, the printer controller can compare the color of each patch to the original image. It then can make minute, automatic adjustments at the engine's printing speed. The technology, in the research lab now, is expected to start showing up in next-generation digital color printers within two years. It is also available for licensing. (www.xerox.com/ innovation)



On Demand Takes AIIM

NEW YORK CITY—Bolstered by being "co-located" with the AIIM 2003 Conference & Exposition, the recent 2003 On Demand Digital Printing & Publishing Conference & Exposition saw its attendee numbers jump to 27,200 registrants. Some 438 exhibitors were said to be represented on the combined show floor.

The gains appeared to be attributable to the combining of events more than anything else. AIIM bills itself as the "Enterprise Content Management Association." The inverted show guides printed as a single book proved to be a fitting representation of the current level of integration between the audiences and systems.

Along with product introductions, On Demand 2003 brought announcements about new business initiatives and relationships, with Electronics For Imaging (EFI) and Xerox figuring heavily into the latter. Conspicuous by their absence were direct imaging (DI) or on-press imaging systems.

Xerox Corp. unveiled a new strategic initiative to address the digital workflow, including enhancing the integration of its systems with third-party solutions. The company says it plans to offer a simplified set of workflow solutions under the new FreeFlow Digital Workflow Collection umbrella. This effort reportedly will be complemented by the adoption of an open, standards-based development platform—the Xerox Workflow Framework.

FreeFlow workflow solutions will be tailored to four major industry segments: service bureaus and corporate data centers, in-plants and corporate reprographic centers, quick printers and commercial printers. The collection will integrate the company's various existing workflow components, including the DocuSP production printer controller, DigiPath production software for scanning and document management, VIPP variable information technology and EOMS printing management.

In addition, Xerox says Creo Inc., EFI and Adobe Inc. are among the expanding group of its strategic workflow partners.

At On Demand, EFI and Xerox announced a "significant expansion" of their current collaboration on workflow solutions for the digital print market. Providing a glimpse of things to come was the introduction of EFI's Fiery Q4500 server as a new front end for the Xerox DocuColor iGen3 digital color press.

At the same time, Creo Inc. showcased the integration of its Spire color server technology with the Xerox workflow. Spire color servers are available to drive the Xerox DocuColor 2000 series, DocuColor 6060 and iGen3 digital color production presses.

Building on this relationship, Xerox announced it has become a partner in Networked Graphic Production (NGP). NGP is a Creo strategic initiative designed to provide a smooth flow of data and enhanced digital collaboration between printers and their customers. The companies will focus on building integrated workflow processes for offset and digital printing.

EFI and Canon USA also teamed up at the exposition to introduce the ColorPASS-Z5400 server to drive Canon's CLC 5000+ and CLC 3900+ color printer/copier systems. The server is powered by EFI's new Fiery Q4000 technology and Fiery System 5 software.

Océ Printing Systems announced a new wider paper path for its VarioStream 7650cx. Three-up 6x9˝ applications can now print at up to 2,335 impressions per minute, the equivalent of 560 250-page books per hour. Supporting both pinless and pinfed paper, the 19˝ capability provides enhanced versatility.

Heidelberg USA used On Demand as a launching pad for a Profitability Enhancement Program that it says is designed to help NexPress 2100 customers markedly reduce costs and increase profitability. The new program sets (based on production volume) a maximum cost per page that customers will pay over a 12-month period for DryInk and Operator Replaceable Components (OCRs).

For their part, users must agree to implement basic operational standards for the NexPress. The maximum cost per page ranges from $.06 for customers producing a monthly average of between 100,000 and 249,999 pages, down to $.04 for producers exceeding 500,000 pages a month.

The 2004 edition of the On Demand Digital Printing & Publishing Conference & Exposition is slated to be held in New York City on March 8-10, 2004. (www.ondemandexpo.com)



Acrobat Set to Roll Over

SAN JOSE, CA—The benefit of standards, even de facto ones like PDF, is the consistency they bring to a process. That is, unless somebody decides to move the cheese.

Graphic arts companies may soon need to do a bit of scurrying, since Adobe Systems has introduced Adobe Acrobat 6.0, supported by PDF 1.5. The upgrade is being rolled out as a family of products, including Professional, Standard, Elements and Reader applications. Documents can be saved as older versions of PDF to ensure compatibility, but some functions may be lost in the process.

A central feature of the upgrade is said to be enhanced review capabilities that are targeted to all users. However, Acrobat 6.0 Professional offers new features tailored specifically to the creative professional workflow, as well as engineering applications, the company claims. These include new preflighting and previewing tools. One product spec especially worth noting is that the version for Apple platforms requires Macintosh OS 10.2.2 or higher—and 405MB of available hard-disk space.

Adobe has licensed pdfInspektor from Callas Software to enable preflighting of files. Included is support for the creation and verification of PDF/X (currently 1a and 3) files. The preflighting operation is interrupted if an error is encountered and the user is interactively shown the source of the problem. Time- and date-stamped preflight reports can be printed out and/or embedded into the file.

This function compares files to a specified Profile, which can be supplied by the printer. It's separate from the Job Options file that a printer can also provide to ensure the appropriate settings are applied in Acrobat Distiller.

The Professional version also offers the ability to preview (with densitometry readout) and print color separations, preview transparency flattening, and set marks and bleeds. Users can print composite output for high-quality proofs, save composite EPS or generate host-based and InRip separations. Ink manager controls from the Adobe InDesign 2.0 application have been incorporated to facilitate printing of color separations.

Other application-specific features include a layout tool that enables users to check trapping in a file and an expanded print dialog box.

A number of capabilities are common to the Professional and Standard versions.

Enhanced commenting tools provide more accurate mapping of comments to document elements; enable users to format, reply to and spell-check their comments; and allow all responses to be imported into a single PDF file or combined into a separate summary page. Review cycles can be conducted via e-mail or through a Web browser, and only the comments themselves need to be transmitted back to the originator for integration into the local source file. The review tracker function creates a list of document recipients and tracks the feedback received.

To aid in reviewing documents, split-view mode provides a side-by-side display of two areas of a document, and a loupe tool lets users quickly zoom into an otherwise unreadable area without affecting the rest of the document's magnification level.

Document management is aided by the ability to consolidate multiple PDF files and images from multiple sources into a single document. Font sets can be merged and purged across multiple pages to eliminate redundancy and strip out unnecessary data.

As for the positioning of the other applications in the product family:

* Acrobat 6.0 Standard is targeted to business professionals and provides easy-to-use tools for creating, reviewing and exchanging Adobe PDF files.

* Available through volume licensing, Acrobat Elements helps Windows users convert business documents into PDF files.

* Adobe Reader 6.0 is free, downloadable software that allows users to view and print the latest version of Adobe PDF files, as well as fill in PDF forms and view Adobe Photoshop Album slide shows.

The applications were scheduled to ship by mid-May.



DIGITAL bytes

SAN FRANCISCO—CIP4 has appointed James E. Harvey to the position of executive director. In this new capacity, Harvey will represent the organization at key industry events, develop presentations and technology updates on JDF, generate user case studies to promote adoption of the standard, and produce educational seminars to clarify issues related to JDF development and product implementation. Harvey is president of Media4TheWorld LLC in the metropolitan Washington, DC, area. (www.cip4.org)

MARBLEHEAD, MA—The DDAP Association recently held its 2003 Annual Conference. Attendees represented more than 130 ad agencies, publishers, prepress providers, printers and software developers. The industry group was established to promote the "Universal Exchange of Digital Advertising through Open Process Integration and Accredited Standards."

Each day of the conference was dedicated to a different aspect of the digital workflow, including the PDF/X and TIFF/IT data formats, color management built around the new 10th edition SWOP specification and an exploration of digital supply chain management with presentations on Adobe's XMP and CIP4's JDF efforts. (www.ddap.org)

ROSWELL, GA—Colorwise Inc. is celebrating its 10th anniversary by going CTP with the installation of a Fujifilm Saber Vx-6000 violet laser platesetter and Quattro flatbed scanner. "We've cut our prepress labor costs by 50 percent," reports John Long, vice president. (www.colorwise.com/www.fujifilm.com)
 

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