IMAGE CAPTURE — Market Goes Flat

Given that it is a prepress trade shop, there’s a wide-spread perception in the industry that companies like Grafix Prepress, in Columbia, MD, have all died out, never mind the scanning services it offers.

For the first time in its more than 30 years in business, the shop did recently expand beyond prepress services with the installation of an Indigo Platinum press. However, it also has added a new large-format EskoScan 2636 flatbed color scanner from Esko-Graphics.

The shop does general commercial and packaging work from one location with about 30 employees, reports Tim Seal, electronic prepress manager. Packaging work was just part of the reason Grafix needed a large-format scanner, he says. The company also added computer-to-plate output capabilities within the past year, which brought a need for copydot scanning and descreening of existing analog film, Seal notes.

“We had been in the market for a new scanner to do separations anyway, but we were impressed with how far copydot scanning had come,” he explains. “We’d looked into the technology about five years ago, but the quality wasn’t there. When we did some tests on this system, we couldn’t tell the difference between scans from film versus transparency and reflective originals. Descreening films to make new Photoshop TIFFs is a big part of what we are doing now.”

Even so, Seal says the company recognizes that copydot scanning and descreening presents a limited-term opportunity. He expects there to be a three- to five-year window before everything has gone digital. “We can’t get our money out of the scanner by strictly doing analog film to digital conversions, but it is a nice added service we can offer.”

The prepress manager has seen some signs of customers doing more of their own scans, but even then, the shop generally has to tweak the images, he says. “The number of transparencies coming in may have declined, but I don’t see the business going away. Designers don’t know the printing issues involved, and don’t want to be bothered with them.”

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