PI's 45th ANNIVERSARY -- From Art To Science
In the pressroom, the economics of half-size web offset presses were seen as now challenging full-size machines and creating a new market niche. At the other end of the spectrum, the possibility of using a gravure press for commercial printing work was being suggested. The down side was that with prices of $3 million to $4 million, the presses cost at least twice that of a web offset machine.
The all-digital workflow was already being envisioned in the gravure segment, enabled by the Helio-Klischigraph cylinder engraver introduced in 1962. The Dr. Ing. Rudolf Hell company reportedly provided the first demonstration of "the digital storage and retrieval of complete continuous-color reproduction data, coupled with automatic engraving of gravure cylinders... and offering the future potential of laser imaging offset plates."
The author undoubtedly had no idea it would be almost 20 years before computer-to-plate technology was adopted on any kind of large scale.
Computerized database management systems were seen as bringing innovation to production and sales management, but the desktop computer and laptop were still the stuff of science fiction. As one article reported, "An estimator can simply sit down at an online CRT terminal, call up the estimating program and fill in the blanks on-screen."
Later in the year, GATF issued a report—titled "In-line Operations: 1978-1983"—that noted "progress seems inevitable. Over the next five years, in-line operations will become increasingly more practical for sheetfed and web application." Among the processes mentioned were UV curing, numbering, folding and cutting, along with segmentization and personalization (the forerunners of one-to-one marketing).
Having only just been launched in 1975, the 1978 edition of GRAPH EXPO was expected to attract more than 30,000 attendees and some 400 exhibitors. The event organizers introduced innovations of their own, including automated attendee registration and the use of custom imprinted plastic cards as admission badges.