The Next Wave – Digital Directions

Technological strides in areas of digital prepress, plus new moves in digital color printing, will push for strong attention this year. Are commercial printers ready for the next wave of techno-hype? Time will tell.

BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO

Tired of hearing about thermal CTP? Bored with PDF discussions? Less than enthralled with the latest digital color proofing claims?

Too bad—the next wave of PDF functionality, digital front-end output flexibility, thermal CTP strides and competitive advancements in digital color proofing devices are poised to make 1999 another hot year for digital developments.

Still, hearing the tech talk isn’t always easy, as many a prepress director can readily attest. “I’m so tired of hearing about platesetters, digital color proofing, PDF, color management, the Internet, remote proofing and variable data,” confesses Paula Tognarelli, director of prepress at Somerville, MA-based United Lithograph. “But I could just be having a technology midlife crisis,” she quips.

Tognarelli is quick to point out that United Lithograph—which served as the beta site for and currently operates an Agfa Galileo digital platesetter and Polaroid PolaProof digital halftone proofer—is looking forward to purchasing a new color scanner in 1999. United also has big plans for ongoing prepress and digital workflow studies throughout this year and well into the year 2000.

“In 1999, we plan to research a variety of digital prepress technologies, in addition to replacing our 10-year-old drum scanner for a more efficient scanning device. We’re going to upgrade our imposition proofer for our direct-to-plate workflow to a two-sided device and study an upgrade for our server,” Tognarelli reports. “We are inspecting all of our workflow processes internally and seeking to automate and expedite wherever possible. We are also learning how to best finesse the digital prepress technologies we already have in place, as well as target future purchase decisions,” she continues. “This will remain our primary technology focus for 1999 and into 2000.”

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