Focus on Digital Front Ends
Why? Quite simply, all connectivity requirements call for alternative front ends, whether the print environment in question is a short-run packaging concern or long-run
publication printing operation. The solution? Flexibility, expandability and upgradeability of the DFE across numerous platforms and operating systems appears to be the productivity boost needed for maximum functionality.
Easier said than done.
"Every day," Fuhs reports, "Presstek's challenge is to stay current on new DFE capabilities so that our line of PEARL output devices, including the PEARLsetter and PEARLhdp halftone proofer, can take advantage of these features and make certain that the total workflow works as a smooth, efficient system."
"In practice, ROOM is misunderstood, but in concept it is the Holy Grail of all good DFEs," she adds. "By allowing a partial RIP operation—just the PostScript interpreting portion—into an intermediate format, jobs can be output to a number of devices.
"The challenge we all face is the second part of the RIP operation: screening," Fuhs continues. "All output marking engines require different resolutions, orientations, linearization and dot gain curves, and screening alterations that are output device specific."
At Ultimate Technographics, the DFE solution of note is its On-Q, a server for prepress workflow. Konica Graphic Imaging recently signed an agreement with Ultimate to distribute the new On-Q server for prepress workflows in the United States and Canada, to be offered in combination with Konica's server hardware.
On-Q is an advanced and automated OPI, trapping and imposition solution for Macintosh and Windows NT. Mark Scott, director of marketing at Ultimate, reports that On-Q derives its name from its functionality—users define preferences for various print queues and then access them under a chooser.
"Over the next several years, the DFE market will continue to simplify the process of print management—OPI, imposition and trapping," Scott projects. "At present, all the different DFE solutions and different workflows combine the main prepress steps to achieve the needed result—getting data through the RIP, to the output device and out the door, in as simplified of manner as possible."