CIP3?The Task of Automating Print
The second installment of Printing Impressions' year-long CIP3 report profiles the activities of Scitex, most notably its InkPRO, and shares the prepress technology provider's take on full digital workflow integration.
At Scitex America, Leigh Kimmelman believes that CIP3, in theory, is conceptually sound in its mission to automate production processes from prepress to postpress. As product marketing manager for output imaging systems, Kimmelman must track CIP3 activities and increase market awareness of the latest Scitex CIP3 technologies.
Kimmelman has been one busy guy, as has his CIP3 European counterpart, Les Bovenlander, marketing manager/commercial printers, for Scitex. Bovenlander is instrumental in overseeing the implementation of Scitex's CIP3 technologies in England—such as at the English printer CBE 2000, a radically digital facility in the hills of Birmingham—and throughout Europe and Asia.
So, gentlemen, why the overtime?
"The graphic arts industry is focused on replacing conventional tools with digital tools to oversee every aspect of the print production process," Kimmelman answers. "As part of this focus, we at Scitex are continuing our development of digital tools for the entire workflow, from prepress to postpress, under the umbrella of CIP3."
One such tool, Scitex's InkPRO ink management software module, is a newly launched application designed to digitize the entire ink keying process. The software, which assures print predictability and maximizes productivity, supports CIP3 standards.
A component in the Scitex Lotem 800V workflow, InkPRO software supports the CIP3 Print Production Format (PPF), which seeks to reduce press makeready and setup for finishing equipment by adopting standard, cross-vendor machine languages and by digitally linking all procedures.
Recently made available to the market, InkPRO endured extensive beta-testing in North America, Asia and Europe.
"Scitex InkPRO software provides commercial printers with a powerful tool to help them meet their customers' demands for faster job turnaround times, while still complying with more stringent environmental requirements regarding ink and paper waste," reports Michael Nagler, corporate vice president and general manager of Graphic Arts Products at Scitex.
"Our support of CIP3 and the release of this powerful application further endorses the company's commitment to providing printers with integrated tools and systems for the entire workflow, all the way to print."
The release of the new Scitex InkPRO application follows well-
received booth demonstrations last June at IMPRINTA in Dusseldorf, Germany, as well as during PRINT 97/CONVERFLEX-USA in September in Chicago.
A Digital Stepping Stone
InkPRO has certainly been well-received at Scholin Brothers Printing in St. Louis. The company is using the InkPRO application as a stepping stone to reach new digital heights.
Todd Wellman, electronic prepress manager at Scholin Brothers, reports the company is highly enthusiastic about supporting a full CIP3 workflow; eventually, the operation will digitize cutting and folding functions.
With InkPRO, Scholin Brothers is off to a good start.
"The ink estimation is particularly impressive, as we can now predict overall ink use, down to the exact pound," Wellman explains. "We have already seen a decrease in makeready and job turnaround times, which is directly attributable to the Scitex InkPRO module."
Still, Wellman admits that implementing CIP3 into Scholin Brothers' workflow has brought a share of pitfalls and challenges, some of which involve the one component that all the digital technology in the world cannot always accurately predict.
The human factor.
"The implementation is the toughest part of CIP3—it's been tougher than we thought it would be," Wellman says. "With CIP3, you're automating a pressroom—which hasn't been radically touched for 20-plus years—so you need to introduce new ways of thinking into your workflow."
For Scholin Brothers, CIP3 seemed the first, most logical step toward computer-to-plate.
The $13 million printer didn't want to jump into an expensive CTP situation before getting up to speed with a digital workflow, making possible a future move into another, more digital domain.
Familiar with Scitex output equipment, Scholin Brothers was eager to be a CIP3 beta facility for the technology manufacturer. "The move to CTP is being made due, in part, to our move to a CIP3 workflow," Wellman states. "Before you go out and purchase all the equipment, all the updates, it makes sense to prepare the workflow."
What's in store at Scholin?
"Our goal is to be computer-to-plate by the year 2000, and to plan for all our digital workflows before we purchase a single CTP device," Wellman offers.
"We are conservative in our approach to CTP and CIP3—we're willing to wait and do it right, while remaining on the cutting edge of technology and making money at the same time."
Smart business? Scholin is counting on it—and the potential of CIP3 to deliver digital workflows.
— Marie Ranoia Alonso
Focus: Scitex inkPRO Module
- A few mouse clicks set ink keys on-screen, enabling creation of the ink management file in just a few minutes.
- Scitex InkPRO software analyzes the RIPed files, automatically calculating all the information required to set the ink keys. These settings are sent directly to the press, eliminating the need for large, costly and time-consuming plate scanners.
- Running on the Scitex Brisque DFE or other Scitex front ends, Scitex InkPRO ink management software interfaces via a Macintosh computer with most computer-controlled press consoles, such as Heidelberg's and KBA's. An interface with Komori presses is in beta testing. Interfaces for presses from MAN Roland, Mitsubishi and other manufacturers are also being tested.
- InkPRO bases its calculations on raw data from the same RIP used for rastering the PostScript files, enabling a first-generation digital file to be used for imaging.
- With ink key information set before film or plates are exposed, makeready and turnaround times are reduced even further.