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McIlroy--HDIA - New Name, New Concerns

April 1998
They're on their third incarnation, and going strong. It's the Heidelberg Digital Imaging Association (HDIA), formerly the Linotype-Hell Users Group, formerly the Hell Users Group. Comprising users of (former) Hell ChromaCom systems and scanners, (former) Linotype imagesetters and systems, and Heidelberg DI presses, the group appeared vibrant and prosperous at its mid-February annual meeting, held near Heidelberg USA headquarters in Atlanta.

With all the troubles that have befallen the Scitex Graphic Arts Users Association in recent years, the HDIA has become the largest and most successful of the remaining graphic arts users groups.

Attending (and speaking at) the Atlanta meeting, I thought it immediately apparent why the group is successful. The varied program gave users exactly the two big benefits that vendor-oriented user groups are supposed to offer—a chance for users to share and network, and a chance for them to communicate openly with their vendor, away from the glare of the press.

Although the HDIA receives some sponsorship dollars from vendors, it remains determinedly independent. The board of directors consists entirely of users, and the association's energetic director, Joel Friedman, is hired by the board and paid for by the association.

There were lots of valuable seminar programs throughout the conference, covering everything from Windows NT to PDF. For me the most intriguing session was the opening session, which I co-moderated with Frank Romano and Chuck Weger. Our simple objective was to draw HDIA members into setting an agenda for the conference. We asked them what technology issues were weighing most heavily on their minds.

Some topics were predictable: workflow, computer-to-plate, digital printing, preflight, training and color management. Others were slightly surprising: PDF, and the rapid growth of Windows usage in the graphic arts. Still others caught me unaware: connectivity issues, and new problems with QuarkXPress. Let's look at some of these in more detail.

Industry Observations
The general observation on computer-to-plate is that the technology is maturing much more rapidly than anticipated. Platesetters are faster and cheaper and offer better quality than ever before. Server-enabled workflows are fast improving.

Kenichi Shimazu, head of R&D for the Kodak/Polychrome joint venture, offered a glimpse of simultaneous developments in plate technology that promise users a wide range of imaging options. We also learned that Kodak/Polychrome had reached an agreement with International Paper to acquire Horsell Anitec, further solidifying this supplier's dominant role in the industry.

 

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