GRAPH EXPO & CONVERTING EXPO 2002 -- Showing Signs of Recovery
According to Thad McIlroy, president of consulting firm Arcadia House, the market impediment for digital press adoption has been the ability of corporate publishers to reimagine their workflows to take advantage of digital printing and, in particular, variable data capabilities. "But the software keeps getting more powerful and easier to use, and there are an increased number of success stories," he says. "At some point this will 'tip,' and adoption will become rapid."
McIlroy also advises printers to explore the following developments as they make their rounds at the show:
* JDF (the Job Definition Format) has matured to the point where it is being implemented by most prepress and press manufacturers.
"It may not do much for you today, but will be a key to workflow efficiency improvements in the future," he predicts.
* Tying into JDF, the continued maturation of PDF workflows is also worth investigating. McIlroy asserts that between 80 and 100 percent of all files will be submitted in a PDF format within the next few years. As a result, printers need to decide how they can best process this format, and what its impact will be on the rest of their production, including proofing, platemaking and press imaging.
* Internet-enabled workflows will also be a key theme. "Now that the gloating over the collapse of the dotcoms bubble is over," he says, "it's time for printers to make solid decisions on how they are going to implement Web-based software to improve workflows and, in particular, the flow of work between their customers and their plant(s)."
* And, finally, McIlroy advises printers to check out traditional offset presses featuring improved quality control and more productive setup and makeready features. The latest presses are routinely generating productivity improvements in the range of 25 to 50 percent. "This far exceeds the kind of increments that we've accepted in prepress automation." As such, he says all printers need to address the tough, and expensive, decision to replace their older presses.