CIP3--Time to Celebrate?
BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO
As 1998 moves to a close, CIP3 moves closer to its mission: full digital integration of prepress to postpress production. Will it really fly? It's already soaring.
AS 1998 posts its final days, the major technology players motivating the adoption of CIP3's Print Production Format (PPF) are forecasting that the international effort to digitize the print process from prepress to postpress stages is in store for a happy new year.
The workflow vision of technology providers the likes of PDF's parent, Adobe, and imposition software developer Ultimate Technographics; prepress providers including Agfa, BARCO Graphics, Creo, Fujifilm, Scitex and Screen; hard iron gods including German pressmaker and CIP3's founding father, Heidelberg, to Komori and MAN Roland; plus postpress power the likes of Polar and Wohlenberg are giving CIP3 power as the effort embraces 1999.
Most recently, Hagen Systems announced that it joined the CIP3 consortium—the International Cooperation for the Integration of Prepress, Press and Postpress. Bringing computerized management solutions to CIP3, Hagen Systems expects to contribute to the PPF file format in a number of ways, including allowing information contained in Hagen OA's estimating, order entry, scheduling and client files to provide the basis for creating the initial PPF file for use in the early stages of print production. Hagen also reports it will be working with the consortium to create a standard CIP3 data transfer process.
With 1999 in sight, Printing Impressions recently spoke with several members of the CIP3 consortium. The objective? Get a handle on CIP3's status and projections for the coming year.
"CIP3 is here to stay. It's already used in day-to-day production to automate data transfer from prepress to the press. It must now be made a reality for postpress and MIS interactions as well," reports Martin Bailey, a key member of the Design & Development group at Harlequin.
Kevin Oakes, director of business development at MAN Roland, reports that his company's continuing support of CIP3 is stronger than ever. MAN Roland believes that the international open-architecture standards generated by CIP3 will provide the industry with a highly integrated workflow solution.
"Customers, many of whom are very CIP3 knowledgeable, see the advantages of CIP3 today in our House of Excellence," Oakes states. "At that facility (in Westmont, IL), we demonstrate how data can flow seamlessly through prepress operations to platesetting and, simultaneously, to fiber optic-based Roland 300, 700, and 900 presses."
John Fowler, PrintLink product manager at Creo, is quick to comment on the strength of CIP3 and why printers will need to embrace it. "CIP3 is an example of where the industry is moving; it's the best example of digital workflow reaching from prepress into the pressroom," he states. "In order to be fully competitive in the next century, printers will have to build completely integrated manufacturing processes for printed material."
CIP3 is an initiative of cooperation, not merely a file specification," Fowler is fast to emphasize. "The format and mechanism by which information is exchanged among prepress, press and postpress system vendors will evolve, and CIP3 will provide the forum by which that evolution is managed," he projects.
To date, Creo's efforts have focussed on providing digital ink key preset capabilities to all printers. PrintLink produces a CIP3-compliant PPF file defining the ink coverage and print form geometry of each plate imaged by a Creo Trendsetter or automatic platesetter. To complement PrintLink, Creo has a comprehensive press interface partner program.
Future Creo and CIP3 initiatives will automate the setup of press delivery and closed-loop control systems, as well as configuring automated finishing equipment, with a continued focus on automation that delivers the greatest payback to printers.
At the Agfa camp, CIP3 activities are embodied within the architecture of Agfa's Apogee PDF-based workflow production system. Apogee PrintDrive, a multi-page buffer for more than one RIP, is one of Agfa's latest RIP offerings and, to date, an innovative facilitator for CIP3.
"CIP3 files found on the market today are most often geared only to ink profiles; however, some applications in the postpress area are already available," reports Agfa's Donna Bloomquist, worldwide product line manager, Electronic Prepress Systems. "As more products and systems become CIP3 compliant, this revolutionary development will produce significant cost reductions and productivity enhancements for the industry as a whole—completely compatible digital information will streamline the entire production chain."
As CIP3 continues to deliver on its promise, as CIP3's PPF moves closer to Adobe's PDF, and as the press and postpress segments grow digitally stronger, Printing Impressions will continue to report on the technologies of CIP3. And, if companies the likes of Hagen continue to join CIP3 to fully automated the print production cycle, 1999 may be a happy new year, indeed.
As with all sagas, stay tuned.
Heidelberg's CIP3 Force
Do you know Ernst Bischoff? As director of electronic products for Heidelberg USA, Bischoff, perhaps more so than any other Heidelberg representative based in the United States, can best explain Heidelberg's intense interest in CIP3's initiative to make the digital linking of prepress, press and postpress stages possible.
Recently, Printing Impressions spoke with Heidelberg's CIP3 man, most recently photographed clutching a 1998 InterTech Award given to Heidelberg at the GATF Fall Technology Conference. The award recognizes Heidelberg's new CPC 32 prepress interface.
Bischoff proudly reports Heidelberg brought the first CIP3-compliant system to market: its CPC 32 prepress interface. It automatically presets a press' ink zones directly from prepress data. That shortens makeready, reduces paper waste and improves printing consistency, resulting in higher efficiency for the printer.
At present, Heidelberg has 65 printing facilities equipped with CPC 32, according to Bischoff. "CIP3 may have been a long time in coming, but now that it has arrived we'll be seeing many more devices utilize the standard to make printing a more viable medium," Bischoff projects. "Now is the time for CIP3."