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WOA 04 -- Getting a Jump On Drupa 2004

April 2004
Humility prevents us from saying that the Web Offset Association (WOA) is saving the best for last, but it is closing out the 52nd Annual Conference with a big finishing act. The final day's general session promises to give attendees "The Inside Scoop on Drupa" from industry experts who are in the know and under the direction of Printing Impressions Editor-in-Chief Mark Michelson.

The session will explore major themes expected to be in evidence at the trade fair, along with previews of specific products and technologies to be unveiled. To give a taste of what's to come, here is a short Q&A with some of the panelists scheduled to participate in the closing session. Taking part are Professor Frank Romano, RIT School of Print Media; Dennis E. Mason, president of Mason Consulting; and Darren A. Carlson, CEO of American Spirit Graphics.

PI: What are your expectations for the status and form of JDF-related developments at Drupa 2004?

ROMANO: JDF will replace WMD (weapons of mass destruction) as the most overused acronym. JDF workflow is a great idea and we look ahead to innovative and practical implementations. Every vendor will have a JDF-based product. The big question will be whether these solutions will work with your equipment.

The future of print is ink-jet. It is starting with "industrial" applications, but will move into documents and publications quickly.

MASON: Drupa 2004 is already being advertised as the "JDF Drupa," and I don't think anyone looking for JDF capability will be disappointed. But the challenge for a great many printers is still how to build a functional workflow with a mix of legacy equipment and new, JDF-enabled gear.

After Drupa, it probably will be possible to implement a fairly complete print operation with JDF-enabled equipment. But not many printers are in a position to start with a clean sheet of paper. For printers with legacy equipment in their workflows, the real issue is whether they will be able to compete effectively with printers that have installed a true, automated workflow. This could be the factor that brings us quickly into the JDF age.

CARLSON: Everyone always wants something big and new to showcase at Drupa. Because of its potential and the progress being made, JDF will likely be a topic buzzing around Düsseldorf. Though certain areas may not be ready for mainstream use, I expect manufacturers from job planning, prepress, press and postpress will combine their products to make an impressive system that flows smoothly in the controlled Drupa environment. With automated presetting and quick makereadies across departments, it will be a glimpse at how a company of the future might look.

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