Focus on Digital Front Ends
"The key ingredient for any DFE driving to a proofing device is to be very complementary to other workflows," reports William DeMarco, product specialist, at Kodak Polychrome Graphics. Nader Anvari, chief architect at Kodak Professional, cautions that, when the topic turns to DFEs, there are two aspects one must look at separately: the trend to PDF and the operational format of the DFE.
As for the latter, Anvari suggests, it is important for a commercial printer to determine how it wants to RIP. For example, do you RIP in front of every output device or do you RIP once and then push the file to different output devices? The wrong answer costs money.
Dr. Johan Rommelaere, marketing manager, Printer Systems Div., at BARCO Graphics, offers the following perspective on understanding and establishing successful digital front-end systems.
"Until now, the graphic arts industry was not capable of introducing fully reliable data exchange concepts and systems that could reproduce the data consistently in order to feed the platesetter productively with error-free, plate-ready data," he reports.
Today, the BARCO FastLane expert continues, the prepress production process for a commercial and publication printer is an assembly process where different pages are imported, imposed and output on several offset plates.
Rommelaere reports that high throughput and speed combined with powerful automation tools are required to cope with the demand for shorter turnaround times and lower production costs. The many data formats that are used today for file exchange can be divided into three classes.
- The first class contains the CEPS or legacy system formats like Scitex, Screen, Crosfield and Hell. These are the pixel-based formats for continuous tone and line work.
- In the second group are DTP formats like PostScript, EPS, TIFF and all their variations for bitmap, continuous tone, object-oriented, compressed and non-compressed. These are today's most frequently used formats, since nearly all page makeup is generated in a DTP environment. However, they are also the most troublesome for data consistency.