CIP3?An Ultimate Beginning
In 1989 Ultimate Technographics introduced Impostrip, the first electronic imposition software to the commercial printing market. By 1990, Ultimate's Watson was ready to use DRUPA as an informal forum for discussing with industry press and postpress equipment manufacturers the possibility of linking the three areas of production together.
His argument: Imposition software controls the linking process, because it mirrors the planning processes of a production stream in a printing plant. Within a short time, early steps were made with transferring image data from a proprietary system to an ink control unit of a particular manufacturer.
But it was not until DRUPA 1995 that an industry-wide initiative was launched to define a data interchange standard—known as CIP3.
Today, one of the first CIP3 software developers, Ultimate Technographics advises the CIP3 consortium on critical imposition and trapping issues relevant to the standard. What is Watson's opinion of CIP3 at present? It's, well, fair.
"Early implementation testing has concentrated on linking some RIPs from prepress manufacturers to the color control units—this approach, however, has some important limitations," he explains.
"A RIP is incapable of creating a complete CIP3 PPF file because it does not know exactly what information on a complete plate is necessary for folding, cutting and finishing equipment. Even for ink data it is inadequate because often more than one piece of film is used for the plate, so the RIP does not have all the plate data available," he continues.
The RIP also is set to output the dot gain up to the film or plate imaged, but does not take into account the dot gain once the plate is on press through to the paper. This fact, Watson reports, is major.
An Ultimate Contribution
According to Watson, Ultimate is the first to solve these problems because it implemented all the necessary control information in Impostrip to generate complete CIP3 data, and combined this with an Adobe software RIP set to the exact needs of ink control units. This allows for complete plate analysis—even if the plate film is output in pieces—and it allows the setting of factors, like dot gain, to the exact press conditions independent of the RIP that actually images the plate.