The Quad CTP Squad
Wheeler notes that the Saratoga Springs facility has pursued a CTP workflow aggressively. However, he is quick to add that supportive magazine publishers helped make the transition from conventional to digital production much easier for Saratoga Springs. Many well-known titles have made the switch, including Newsweek, Forbes, People, Sports Illustrated and Time.
"The publications seemed pretty eager to go along with the technology," Wheeler says. "Once the word gets out there, and there looks like there could be some savings—whether it's cost-wise, time-wise or quality-wise—people are usually pretty receptive to the idea."
Still, making the idea a reality took plenty of hard work. Change never comes easy, and CTP brought plenty of changes.
"The truth is, when we started three years ago, there were problems," remembers Tom Frankow-ski, vice president of imaging. "There were things that went wrong. This process is not an evolutionary change; it's revolutionary."
The revolution began in the front end. Frankowski notes that the Creo platesetters used a Harlequin RIP, while the proofing devices used an Adobe RIP. This created some compatibility problems. So Quad came up with a workflow using a variety of hardware and software that cleaned PostScript files prior to proofing and platemaking, creating files that could only be processed one way.
Frankowski also claims that the CTP systems were designed for heavy-duty manufacturing, feeding the presses like a pipeline. Driving everything from archiving to platemaking, the CTP software ran off of a single-server platform. Quad decided to change that.
"We unbundled all the software, and put it across an environment of several pod servers that enable us to do many different functions on jobs across a wide platform," Frankowski explains. "That addressed the productivity issue."
Once Quad was happy with the software and platesetters, the company needed to pick its digital plates. Quad chose thermal. "The thermal process really gives you a lot of consistency and high fidelity," Frankowski says.