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DIGITAL Digest

May 2008
No Waffling on Drupa Plans

GHENT, BELGIUM—This country’s comparatively small size belies its standing as a home to major graphic arts industry vendors, with Agfa Graphics, Punch Graphix (Xeikon) and EskoArtwork among the companies based here. That’s why the global series of pre-show media briefings being held in the lead-up to Drupa recently included a stop in Ghent, with side trips to Mortsel and Antwerp.

As a backdrop for Agfa Graphics’ Drupa plans, Stefaan Vanhooren, president, noted that the company’s recent “de-merger” had given it a better focus and a stronger identity, but the industry is facing challenges. While overall print volume is still growing, he said, competition and globalization is increasing, technology lifecycles are getting shorter and the progress of digital printing is indisputable.

New digital plates, workflow solutions and wide-format ink-jet printers are all set for introduction by Agfa Graphics. Also on display will be the new Synaps polyester-based, synthetic paper for offset printing from Agfa Materials, a sister company formed in the de-merger.

Azura V is a chemistry-free plate that can be imaged by existing violet laser imaging systems, is rated for up to 150,000 impressions and requires just a clean-out process to reveal a distinct physical image ready for printing. For thermal CTP systems, Azura TS enhances Agfa’s ThermoFuse technology to provide up to a 50 percent boost in throughput (compared to the current version) and sharper contrast. The company is also adding to its thermal platesetter offerings by extending its OEM relationship with Screen to include Avalon N eight-up and VLF (16-, 24- and 32-page) models.

Agfa will lend to the show’s expected ink-jet printing theme by premiering the Anapurna XLS, a 98˝-wide machine that uses UV inks and is designed for high- quality printing at a 1,440 dpi maximum resolution. It will also show two additions to the 63˝ Anapurna M line—Mv, which adds spot or flood varnish application to the base model; and M4f, which is configured with CMYK print heads and positioned as a rigid substrate printer.

The company’s workflow offerings will now be marketed as an integrated solution called Apogee Suite, which includes Portal (formerly Delano), Prepress (formerly ApogeeX), Publish and Color modules. Due to launch in Düsseldorf is Apogee Media, a design and content management system for collaborative print and Web page production that is Web browser-based and works with Adobe InDesign.

Pushing back against the expected ink-jet tide at Drupa will be the new Xeikon 8000 toner-based, webfed digital press. The manufacturer is going to emphasize the Xeikon name in the marketplace, even though it formally is still Punch Graphix. CEO Wim Deblauwe commented that Punch is financially solid, has strengthened its management team worldwide and is “here for the long term.”

The company asserts that the 8000’s maximum speed of 230 ppm (A4 size)—combined with a 1,200 dpi resolution (four-bit), 20.15˝ maximum media width and Xeikon’s One-Pass Duplex capability—answers the need for greater productivity without compromising print quality.

Like other Xeikon models, the 8000 can be driven at its full rated speed by the X-800 digital front end, even when printing variable data. The concept of PA (“productivity adaptive”) toner is being introduced with this model, which the company says will provide opportunities to optimize costs in relation to running speed.

CTP: Conventional Plates

Punch will also be unveiling a new generation of the basysPrint UV-Setter CTP platform for exposing conventional UV-sensitive plates (CTcP). It expects to see the greatest interest in the product line coming from regions outside the United States, where there is still a greater cost differential between conventional and digital plates.

EskoArtwork originally planned to use its briefing to provide an up-date on the merged company and present highlights of its Drupa presence, which will have a “Connect More!” theme. However, timing of events led to its bigger news: a deal to acquire Gradual Software. The latter’s staff, assets and technology (Switch automation software) are being merged into EskoArtwork’s Enfocus operation, which operates as a dedicated business unit.

Carsten Knudsen, president and CEO of the overall organization, said EskoArtwork is committed to growing its position in the commercial printing sector, not just packaging. He added that the company sees four challenges facing the graphic arts industry: global sourcing to local tastes, more collaboration in the design process, a need to optimize packaging and environmental responsibility.

In the commercial printing arena, EskoArtwork will be showing its Pro (Odystar-based) and Enterprise (BackStage-based) workflow solutions, as well as the Enfocus/Gradual Software product line. Going forward, it is looking to develop a migration path for users that merges the workflow solutions together and keeps what’s best in each.

The company will also demonstrate the Neo 2.0 upgrade, which features native PDF 1.7 support and interactive viewing capabilities.

On a completely different front, EskoArtwork expects its new Kongsberg XP series of digital cutting tables to be of interest to commercial shops that produce POP displays and signs. The tables are designed for short-run production, with features such as automatic tool leveling and registration system.

Ink-Jet Shines at Drupa

Full-page printing solutions are usually what people have in mind when they say this will be “the Ink-jet Drupa,” but new solutions for addressing and in-line personalization will also be in the offing from companies such as Atlantic Zeiser.

It is introducing the Omega 36HD (1.4˝) ink-jet printer that features a 720 dpi resolution and the enhanced Omega 210 model that increases the print width to 8.3˝ by stitching six heads together. Both use Piezo ink-jet technology.

In addition, the company will be displaying the SmartCure 36/36i series that uses second-generation LED curing of UV inks for longer system life and reduced energy consumption. Solutions for less demanding applications that incorporate HP thermal ink-jet heads running UV-curable ink will be shown, as well.

In the Drupa Innovation Parc, Alwan Color Expertise will unveil a new series of ICC color management software that is based on its CMYK Optimizer server line. It will also introduce a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop CS3 that enables users to apply ICC DeviceLink profiles.

PerfectProof plans to launch ProofMaster Certify, a turnkey solution for making proofs that are compliant with ISO standards, and PrintFactory, for proofing of large-format printing applications.

Canon Europe’s presentation was basically a review of the announcements its American counterpart made at the On Demand Expo, including introduction of the imagePRESS C6000VP and C6000 digital color press models. Similarly, HP recapped the HP Ink-Jet Web Press and HP Indigo 7000 color press product announcements it made at a solo event in Israel.

Mark Smith



PODi Adds To Digital Case Study Collection

ROCHESTER, NY—PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative, has published its “2008 Digital Print Case Studies” collection in print and launched an improved online database (www.podi.org/casestudy).

The addition of 45 new success stories pushes the total to more than 300 reports in the collection, the online version of which PODi members can now explore more quickly and efficiently thanks to the expanded search functionality.

Case studies from around the world, covering more than 12 market segments and dozens of different marketing communications applications, are included in the collection. Highlights of this update include detailed reports from PODi’s Best Practice Award winners for 2008 and two submissions from companies in China.

The organization has already begun working on the 2009 collection update and put out a call for entries. Members and non-members can submit any program or campaign that involves the use of digital printing, including print-on-demand books, direct mail, collateral, Web-to-print, transpromo and more.

There is no fee for submitting case studies and no limit on the number of entries from a company. Deadline for submissions is June 30.



CIP4 Updates Specifications

WASHINGTON, DC—New versions of several workflow automation specifications have been released by CIP4, the International Cooperation for the Integration of the Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress. Included are the PrintTalk 1.3 schema and reference implementation and a new set of Interoperability Conformance Specifications (ICS) based on version 1.3 of the JDF (Job Definition Format) specification.

PrintTalk is a specification for the exchange of print e-commerce information that is intended to facilitate communicating data between end-customer systems, Web-to-print systems, and print MIS, estimating and scheduling solutions.

ICS documents and guidelines define subsets of the JDF specification that graphic arts systems and software must implement to establish a minimum level of specification support, and are the basis for the JDF product certification testing managed by PIA/GATF. This new batch of ICS documents includes Customer-to-MIS (CusMIS), Commercial Web MIS to Web Press (MISWeb), Newspaper MIS to Web Press (MISNews), MIS to Conventional Printing-Sheetfed (MISCPS) and Prepress to Conventional Printing (PreCP).

For more information, visit www.cip4.org/certification/intro.php



digital bytes

LAS VEGAS—The XMPie Users Group (www.xmpieusers.org) recently concluded its second annual conference, drawing nearly 200 attendees with more than 80 companies and 10 countries represented.

GHENT, BELGIUM—Windows Microsoft Office users can get help generating print-ready PDF files by downloading the new best practices and specifications released by The Ghent Workgroup (GWG). The “Office Document Printing/PDF Creation Guideline” booklet is the first in a series of free tools for use with Office files that GWG plans to offer. Visit www.gwg.org

SANTA CLARA, CA—The capability to print solar sells has been demonstrated using a Dimatix ink-jet materials printer from Fujifilm Dimatix. Konarka Technologies of Lowell, MA, employed the device in development of Power Plastic, a photovoltaic material that converts light to energy.

PALO ALTO, CA—HP has obtained Pantone Goe color system licensing for its off-line HP Indigo ink mixing system, adding to its on-press simulation of the color system. Additionally, it has developed a printed swatchbook as a reference for on-press Goe simulation.

LAKE SUCCESS, NY—Canon U.S.A. and EFI have announced that the EFI Fiery Central PDF-based workflow solution is now available through Canon’s imagePRESS workflow solutions program to drive the digital press product line. Support for JDF connectivity enables implementing a broad range of integrated workflows.

HEIDELBERG, GERMANY—Over the past two years, connections between the Prinect workflow and MIS systems from some 20 different manufacturers have been developed as a result of customer requests, reports Heidelberg. Prinect, in turn, can transfer the resulting job data to prepress and press production systems using JDF, and feedback on jobs in progress is sent to the MIS system via JMF. PI
 

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