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Putting PDF into Production

August 2000
Streamlining prepress production with PDF optimizes cross-platform functionality and consistent, predictable output. While some commercial printers are content to watch PDF's development, others are embracing the still-emerging technology full force. Which approach is yours?


BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


This is the second installment in Printing Impressions' ongoing look at PDF workflows in practice at a variety of commercial printing and digital prepress operations. Part I appeared in the June issue.

PDF FILES are independent of platform or operating system. PDF files are small and self-contained, with fonts, images and graphics embedded within each PDF document, streamlining electronic transmission and preflighting. PDF files offer unique benefits for both document creators and print production professionals, with consistent, predictable output the goal of all PDF documents.

Who doesn't love PDF? In some ways, that may be a loaded question. Not every commercial printer is flocking to the world of PDF—although it certainly seems that way. PDF workflows, from Agfa's Apogee to Prinergy, marketed by CreoScitex and Heidelberg Prepress, are now joined by a virtual flood of PDF workflows and new PDF plug-ins targeting the world of print.

Still, there are those commercial printers that reserve the right to be cautious in their zeal over PDF. One such cautious visionary is Tim Poole, vice president of Sacramento, CA-based Dome Printing, a family owned, $20 million, high-end commercial printer. Dome Printing is among the next wave of independent printing companies: Digitally smart, willing to invest in new technologies, ready to grow and change with the increasing pressure of the printing industry's very digital times.

Dome Printing, like many commercial printers, has tested the merits and boundaries of Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) packaged within a complete workflow system. And although Poole believes PDF will, without question, be the file format for the future of print, he is content to continue building his company on the backbone of Adobe's PostScript 3.

"I know PDF will replace PostScript; it is only a matter of time," Poole states. "I view PDF as an emerging and improving technology. And while it might be good to be on the cutting edge of such a workflow-changing technology, I'm content to eliminate as many variables as possible from my prepress department, which, for right now, means relying on the proven capabilities of PostScript."

Johnson Printing, of Boulder, CO, is more extreme in its perceptions of PDF. Operating a 100-percent PDF workflow, this web and sheetfed operation was one of the first U.S. printers (in 1998) to set its sights on building a PDF workflow. "We sought streamlined, digital productivity in our prepress department, which would expedite processes and allow us to get more done in the pressroom," explains Bob Graham, general manager.
 

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