Ditial Prepress–Beta Watch!

Souhegan Color, the $4 million printing arm of Eastern Rainbow, had pulled beta duty for Agfa several times and saw the logic in testing the new violet laser Galileo.

The new Galileo utilizes Agfa’s new Lithostar Ultra plates; specifically, the Lithostar Ultra LAP-V, engineered for use with violet laser output devices, and currently compatible with all major visible-light imaging technologies. The Lithostar Ultra’s ability to be handled in yellow safelight conditions was appealing to the team at Eastern Rainbow.

Frank Shaffer, president of the Souhegan Color component of Eastern Rainbow, had supervised beta work on the Agfa T-5000 scanner, as well as beta work on Polaroid’s PolaProof digital halftone proofer. Shaffer had been investigating moving the printing operation to CTP for more than three years.

Economy. That was the biggest obstacle for Souhegan Color regarding a move to CTP. How could a $4 million printing operation cost-justify a major thermal CTP investment, costing more than one-eighth of the company’s annual sales? Souhegan Color simply didn’t have the run lengths to support, nor the dollars to acquire, a thermal CTP device.

Shaffer, a longtime proponent of Agfa, overseeing a printing operation that runs multiple Agfa prepress technologies—including an Avantra 30 imagesetter, an Agfa Sherpa ink-jet proofer, AgfaScan T5000 and Agfa’s Taipan RIP—saw promise in the violet laser Galileo.

The beta: Early on in the beta process, Shaffer realized the move to the Galileo VS would be more extensive than he had envisioned. Workflow issues were clear. To maximize the Galileo, Agfa’s Apogee PDF-based workflow was need-ed—a new, but pivotal, addition to Eastern Rainbow’s prepress environment.

“We entered a whole new territory; there were layers of workflow issues we were plowing through,” Shaffer reports. “We knew we wanted the Galileo VS, we knew we were comfortable with a yellow light environment for plates, we knew we would have to incorporate the Apogee workflow into our daily routine—these were quickly our daily facts and we knew that to fully succeed with CTP, we would have to get the most productivity possible out of the Galileo working in Apogee.”

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