Job Workflow — Ending the Digital Divide
“If it’s a customer we deal with all the time, digital printing is usually not an issue,” Willis continues.
Variable data work goes down one of two paths. Larger projects typically come in via Ideal’s Printable FusionPro implementation, with the resulting PDFs passed to ApogeeX for processing and imposition, then output with the variable data components. Smaller jobs can be done on the desktop, with HP Indigo Yours Truly Designer or QuarkXClusive software, and then sent directly to the HP Indigo Production Flow.
Having imposed, print-ready PDF files makes the larger jobs RIP faster, but the desktop route eliminates the step of generating a PDF, according to Willis.
She estimates that about 30 percent of the shop’s digital color work includes variable data. With the rest, processed PDFs are sent to Production Flow where all the operators have to do is select which of the HP Indigo 5000s they want the job to print on.
Offset jobs are sent to the shop’s Agfa Galileo VS violet platesetter or to one of its two Agfa Accuset 1500 imagers—one outputting polyester plates and the other film for small press jobs.
All of Ideal’s digital press operators came from the offset world, and it has started doing some cross-training of its current offset pressroom staff on the digital machines.
“We just added our second new digital press and we already have it filled up with work,” she says. “The digital end of the business is definitely growing, both static and variable data.”
In the context of integrating workflows, digital printing is usually a reference to toner-based systems (and ink-jet, by extension). There is also a third workflow possibility—digital offset printing.
Carleton Communications, in Mechanicsburg, PA, added a four-color Kodak DirectPress 5334 DI digital imaging press from Presstek in late summer 2006 and followed that up with a Konica Minolta bizhub Pro C6500 digital (toner) color printing system in December. It added the latter unit primarily to get into more sophisticated variable data work, since about 30 percent of the company’s business is direct mail work that previously only used ink-jet addressing.