Riding DRUPA's Prepress Wave
On the bill for DRUPA 2000 are a virtual army of new imagesetters, a variety of digital platesetters, plus PDF tools, new thermal consumables and scanning systems galore.
BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO
It seems almost ironic that, after DRUPA 1995 called for the prepress industry to move its collective reasoning away from film-based environments and toward the promise of thermal CTP, that DRUPA 2000 would arrive, after much anticipation and press attention, and tout almost the opposite.
Film is not dead. Imagesetters are still hot technologies. Guess what, so are platesetting devices for conventional and thermal CTP; so are new digital proofers; and so are new workflow technologies for an acronym unknown at DRUPA 1995 and now almost overused—PDF.
DRUPA 2000 is primed to be the DRUPA that will give the commercial printer more choices than ever for premedia technologies—red, green, thermal and the newest entry, blue-violet laser output devices will be plentiful, bringing the flexibility and quality of digital prepress environments to new economies of scale for today's commercial printers.
In recent weeks, several key prepress technology manufacturers have hosted international press events in locations ranging from historic Boston, to the ageless European towns of Dusseldorf and Hamburg, Germany, to the desert sands of Israel. At all events, Printing Impressions was there—taking notes on the up-to-the-minute prepress technologies targeting DRUPA 2000.
It is the distinct pleasure of Printing Impressions to share its DRUPA 2000 prepress technology notebook with its readers. Additionally, Printing Impressions will present a full report from Dusseldorf, Germany, on the entire spectacle that is DRUPA 2000, May 18 to 31.
DRUPA 2000, and all its products, corporate alliances and market trends, will dominate the June issue of Printing Impressions—and the entire printing industry as a whole. For this minute, though, consider this prepress notebook the shape of DRUPA 2000 news to come.
Primesetters in Hamburg!
In mid-March, Heidelberg Prepress hosted a major press event in Hamburg, Germany, to announce its DRUPA product lineup—nothing short of Super Bowl proportions.
At DRUPA, Heidelberg will launch the following devices, with a focus on helping the small- and medium-size commercial printers extend their production routines into the world of digital prepress.
A critical launch for Heidelberg Prepress will be two new imagesetters. The new four-up Primesetter 74 is designed to supply print originals to the Heidelberg Speedmaster 74 and other medium-format presses. An almost square imaging format on the Primesetter 74 means that even six-page forms in two-up can be output. There will also be a launch of Primesetter 102, designed for use with the Speedmaster 102 and other comparable presses.
"Imagesetters are still very popular. Even though CTP is the hot topic, and is growing as a technology, the bread and butter output technology for many prepress departments in scores of commercial printing operations is imagesetters," reports Raymond Cassino, director of marketing at Heidelberg Prepress. "Imagesetters are a mature technology. Printers can rely on them, depend on them—familiarity does not necessarily breed contempt, at least not for today's imagesetters."
The Primesetters can image both films and polyester printing plates. Currently, the Primesetters can image the new Silver DigiPlates from Mitsubishi. The Primesetter family is the natural successor to the Herkules drum imagesetters, with the Primesetters featuring a non-contact material transport system that runs on an air cushion without rollers in the imagesetter. Also on the agenda for a DRUPA launch will be a new series of capstan imagesetters from Heidelberg Prepress —the Quicksetter 400 and Quicksetter 460. The Quicksetters come in two imaging widths: 406mm and 460mm.
Taking technology in a PDF direction, Heidelberg Prepress will also launch Delta Direct, a new generation of software RIPs based on an Adobe PostScript 3 interpreter. Delta Direct processes all PostScript levels—1, 2, 3—plus PDF up to version 1.3. Delta Direct offers a comprehensive combination of features, such as in-RIP color management for color adaptations, in-RIP trapping and in-RIP impositioning for simple impositioning.
On the scanning side of Heidelberg Prepress, the Hamburg announcement of the Newcolor 7000 was major for the direction of the company's scanning activities. The concepts of Linocolor and the reference software of the DC 3000 scanner have been integrated and delivered in the Newcolor 7000 drum scanner, which is based completely on ICC profiles. Heidelberg will also launch Newcopix 7000 software for copydot scanning. Newcopix, available with Newcolor 7000, offers copydot and descreening modes, as well as a mixed mode for multi-purpose use.
The German technology provider will also unveil at DRUPA the Heidelberg Colorcam digital camera back and the newly developed LinoColorcam software. Featuring a resolution of six million pixels and a color depth of 16 bits per channel, Colorcam is a professional, high-resolution camera back for medium-format and professional cameras. LinoColorcam controls the camera back, but can also be used as a standalone program. LinoColorcam allows for ready-to-print data, that is color-separated when the image is shot.
Presstek's New Anthem
Presstek chose Boston as its site during the month of March to tout its DRUPA wares. DRUPA will mark the unveiling of Presstek's new Anthem thermal plate for CTP imaging. Based on patented Presstek coating technology, Anthem combines ablative imaging with industry standard, on-press performance. Presstek President Robert Hallman reports the plate, already in its final beta phase, will be fully available at DRUPA.
Anthem, with a thermal sensitivity in the 800 to 1,200nm range, is optimized for use with Presstek's new Dimension400 thermal platesetter, also slated for a DRUPA debut. Dimension400, the first in a new series of thermal platesetters from Presstek, can image a 10x10˝ to 27x31˝ plate at 2,540 dpi. A maximum size plate will image in three minutes. The Dimension400 supports all popular RIPs and prepress workflows with automated conversion of 1-bit TIFF bitmap files for output and standard interface hardware and protocols.
"Overall, the Dimension400 helps shorten job production time by automating key steps and eliminating time-consuming prepress procedures, such as film imagesetting, development and stripping," Presstek's Hallman reports, noting that this Drupa will be the one to deliver the technological critical mass needed to reduce theeconomy of the CTP decision for small- to mid-size commercial printers.
"Now, in terms of CTP, more printing operations will be able to rationalize the value of investment. Whether the investment is visible light or thermal, CTP has reached a critical mass of suppliers to break through economic barriers and deliver a variety of competent CTP devices at or under the $100,000 threshold," Hallman reports. "At this DRUPA, more commercial printers will be able to cost-justify making the move to CTP."
Galileo Talant et al
Beantown was also the site of Agfa's international press event to promote its DRUPA technologies. The major news on the output side of Agfa is all about Galileo. There will be no less than four new Galileo devices launched at DRUPA, including the new Galileo Talant, a streamlined, processor-free, eight-up thermal platesetter that images the new Agfa Mistral plate. Also set to debut at Drupa, Mistral is a high-resolution, long run length, processor-free plate for thermal imaging.
The Galileo army at DRUPA will also include the Galileo Thermal S, offering imaging speeds 50 percent faster than the original Galileo thermal systems, and the Galileo VS and Galileo VXT violet-laser Galileo internal-drum platesetters. The Galileo VS enables printers to output 17 plates per hour. The Galileo VS is also available in a four-up model. The high-speed Galileo VXT outputs 22 plates per hour.
DRUPA will also be the platform for the new Agfa N91 visible-light digital plate with newspaper productivity in mind. N91 is a high-quality plate that achieves dots of 2 to 98 percent at 175 lpi. Agfa will also leverage DRUPA to introduce other new products: the ImpowerPlus line of hard-dot films; the Meridian P150 new generation of conventional printing plate, designed for small and medium printers; two new Agfa Sherpa digital ink-jet proofing devices—AgfaJet Sherpa 54 and AgfaJet Sherpa 62—and, on the workflow side, Agfa Apogee Series 2, its PDF-based production system.
CreoScitex will make its true debut at DRUPA 2000 in Dusseldorf, Germany. CreoScitex unites the prepress operations, products and services of Creo and Scitex.
Focused on the graphic arts marketplace, CreoScitex offers solutions including image capture systems; professional color and copydot scanning systems; digital front-end and variable information workflow solutions; ink-jet and digital halftone proofing solutions; computer-to-plate and computer-to-film devices; and imaging heads for digital offset applications. These are grouped into six primary product lines: input, workflow, proofing, output, imaging, and media and support.
The combined operation will continue to support all existing products for the foreseeable future. Mark Dance, executive vice president of Creo, leads the CreoScitex management team as president. Erez Meltzer, formerly of Scitex, has assumed the role of CEO of Creo Products and president of CreoScitex Ltd., in Israel. While Creo's corporate headquarters will remain in Vancouver, BC, the global operations of CreoScitex will be managed from both Vancouver and Herzlia, Israel.
As the transition progresses, company officials report, graphic arts professionals will continue to see such familiar Scitex products as Brisque, Dolev, EverSmart, Iris, Leaf, Lotem, and Creo products including the PDF-workflow Prinergy, Renaissance and Trendsetter, among others. The officials note that the following Creo products will be shown and demonstrated at DRUPA.
Creo and Heidelberg will introduce a new generation of four- and eight-page Trendsetter platesetting devices. The new Trendsetter product line will consist of three families: Trendsetter 74, Trendsetter 3230+ and Trendsetter 3244+. Each model will be offered with a variety of options to facilitate customization.
Creo will introduce the Renaissance II Plus copydot scanning system. The newest member of the Renaissance family joins the Renaissance and Renaissance II scanning systems, which were introduced in 1996 and 1999, respectively. Making its debut at DRUPA 2000, the Renaissance II Plus is faster than the Renaissance II at bringing halftone film into a digital, CTP workflow.
Creo will also debut Print Console 2.0, the latest release of its device control software. A graphics-based, user-friendly evolution in device control, Print Console 2.0 provides connectivity from a variety of front-end systems to Creo and Heidelberg/Creo output devices. Print Console 2.0 provides connectivity from a RIP or the TIFF Downloader, delivering raster files directly to the selected output device, which then images digital halftone proofs, plates, film and flexographic or offset plates.
Creo will announce the Creo SP process on an offset press. Creo has been developing its SP technology for years and holds a number of patents fund-amental to switchable coating application on-press. The SP process involves spraying a switchable lithographic media onto a reusable substrate, which is mounted on the plate cylinder of the press. Immediately after the media is applied to the cylinder, it is imaged as a regular plate would be with Creo Squarespot thermal imaging technology. At the end of the print run, the reusable substrate is wiped clean of the imaged media and is then ready for the spray application of fresh media for the next print job. All of this is achieved on-press, without the use of conventional printing plates.