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Drupa developments 2

Apr 1, 2004 12:00 AM


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Lenticular imaging made easy

HumanEyes (Jerusalem) says its imaging science enables just about anyone to create 3-D pictures of up to 360 degrees and other lenticular effects (flip, morph, zoom and layered 3-D) for print and on displays or monitors. Using any high-end digital camera, the user captures the desired image. Then, through mathematical algorithms developed at Hebrew University, HumanEyes' software creates stereoscopic pictures that can be printed using digital, photographic or lithographic equipment. Wide-format digital and photographic printers can print on different media, which is then laminated to a lens; conventional offset printers can print directly onto lenses. Applications include point-of-purchase, signage, packaging, magazine covers and more.

The bottom line: According to HumanEyes, the Coca-Cola Co. reported an 11 percent point-of-purchase sales increase in locations featuring HumanEyes images. The company is creating “3-D Communities” to unite photographers, printers and others interested in lenticular work. Human-Eyes technology will be featured at KBA and other vendors' booths. Familiar names among HumanEye board members include Indigo's founder, Benny Landa, and Yoav Chelouche, former Scitex president and CEO. See www.humaneyes.com.

Monitor proofing/JDF application server

RealTimeImage (San Bruno, CA), recently acquired by Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG) (Norwalk, CT), will introduce RealTimeProof 5.0 at Drupa. RealTimeProof, a full-resolution online proofing system, enables users to view original high-res data over the Internet — even with a modem connection. It supports all standard production file formats. Enhancements include “multiple-view” and “compare” features said to enable simultaneous streaming, viewing, collaboration, annotation and comparison of several versions in high resolution. The “compare” function identifies and highlights version differences while also creating and streaming the difference between selected versions on the fly. RealTimeProof offers secure approval authentication and “lockout” features as well as Macintosh Safari browser support.

RealTimeImage also announced it has joined the International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress (CIP4). It has developed a JDF application server, the first deployment of which will connect the RealTimeProof system with an Esko-Graphics prepress solution.

The bottom line: Founded in 1996, RealTimeImage says it has 15,000 users worldwide, with the packaging market representing about 35 percent of this customer base. RealTime is particularly interested in $3 million to $19 million shops. It helped KPG develop its MatchPrint Virtual solution and is looking forward to joining the KPG team. “As a small company, we successfully won the business of some leading companies with relatively scarce resources,” noted Yehuda Messinger, executive vice president of RealTimeImage's graphic-arts division. “With KPG's market reach, we can go beyond these early adopters.” See www.realtimeproof.com.

Print multiple PMS colors in a single pass

Netherlands-based M.Y. PrinTech's FMsix technology reportedly lets offset packaging printers with six-color presses print dozens of individual spot colors in one pass, eliminating the need to change inks. As the name implies, FMsix uses FM screening. Developed in cooperation with Creo, Sun Chemical and Artwork Systems, it combines the four standard process colors (CMYK) with three special FMsix colors (orange, green and blue). Only six colors are used at one time in two fixed combinations.

Graphic information and line work are processed independently, but special colors aren't introduced into the image data. Instead, at the touch of a button, a software package converts the line work (additional elements such as logos, brand names and special promotions) that are typically printed with spot or house colors into the correct FMsix combinations.

To ensure a smooth transition from AM to FM screening, printers implementing FMsix supply M.Y. PrinTech with their AM curve. Ultimately, the user owns an FMsix curve, which compensates for the difference in dot gain between AM and FM as well as the reduced number of colors FMsix requires. Using FMsix ink, printers follow a strict color sequence, printing CMYK and then FMsix orange, blue and green.

The bottom line: Users must weigh the benefits (less color variation, more colors in single pass and other productivity gains) against FMsix's standardization requirements (beyond having CTP installed, printers are supposed to use FMsix inks and follow a fixed ink sequence).

FMsix was developed by a printing company, M.Y. Cartons, which found that 90 percent of its packaging work could be printed using CMYK and the FMsix orange and blue combination, and the rest of it with the orange and green combination. The technology was first demonstrated at Ipex 2002 and has been used on an industrial scale for almost four years. Look for a surprise project — code named “the Beast” — at Drupa, where FMSix will be demonstrated in the PrintCity Packaging Factory. See www.fmsix.com.

Thermal CTP/DI imaging innovations

Presstek (Hudson, NH) announced ProFire Excel, its fourth-generation thermal CTP and direct imaging (DI) laser-imaging platform. A single Image Data Board has replaced the nine separate boards found in the previous ProFire imaging package. ProFire Excel supports a 16-micron dot and FM screening.

Presstek predicts that the next generation of DI presses, equipped with ProFire Excel, will propel the DI from niche applications to mainstream use. The company says the new laser technology will enable users to produce that was previously impossible to do on DI presses. ProFire Excel-enabled DI presses are designed to produce up to a 300-line screen with no incremental cost. CTP solutions equipped with ProFire Excel can achieve imaging speeds of up to 20 plates per hour.

The bottom line: Presstek stressed it has transitioned from a technology to a marketing company, and toward that end, has introduced a new logo/brand identity.

The company wants to bring “quality offset printing and ease-of-entry pricing” to in-plant, quick and commercial printers. We'll be looking for more details on presses and platesetters featuring the new ProFire Excel imaging technology as well as new digital media for these presses. “We believe that the ProFire Excel-enabled DI presses will make DI the best choice for first-time buyers of four-color presses,” declared Ed Marino, Presstek's president and CEO. See www.presstek.com.

PDF workflow with JDF/job-ticket support

Enfocus Software (San Mateo, CA) announced plans for job-ticket and JDF support across its entire product line. In the Certified PDF workflow, job tickets will become an integral part of the document receivers' (typically a printing company) quality specifications. The job ticket, said to be customizable and easy to complete, is created when the printing company's customer creates his or her PDF. All of Enfocus' products will enable the extraction of job-ticket information in different formats, including standard JDF, facilitating integration with back-end MIS systems.

Here's an example of how it could work:

  • Instant PDF, a PDF creation tool, uses a print queue that contains the printing company's job-ticket definition. The print queue is then published on CertifiedPDF.net. (Certified-PDF.net tools help users manage the distribution and updating of file specs.)

  • When a document creator subscribes to a print queue on CertifiedPDF.net, the job-ticket definition is automatically downloaded. During the PDF creation process, the user is prompted to fill out the job ticket according to job-ticket definition guidelines. This data is stored inside the PDF file.

  • Enfocus Certified PDF technology, a quality-control/job-history tracking tool, ensures that the PDF complies with the printing company's job-ticket definition. The Certified PDF edit log notes all job-ticket edits stored in the PDF file.

  • Finally, the job-ticket information is stored in the PDF as XML. This information can be extracted in different formats for integration with back-end MIS systems.

The bottom line: David van Driessche, Enfocus CEO, noted that the company is no longer just a developer of plug-in PDF editing tools. Despite being acquired by Artwork Systems in 2000, Enfocus retained all of its original OEM accounts while adding new ones. In addition to Artwork, Enfocus' technology can be found in PDF workflows from Agfa, Creo, EFI, Fujifilm, Global Graphics, Heidelberg, Xerox and Screen. See www.enfocus.com.

Web-fed digital press

Key features on Xeikon's (Itasca, IL) web-fed 5000 digital color press include one-pass duplexing, a width of 500 mm and the ability to print onto a variety of substrates. The Xeikon 5000 can handle monthly volumes of up to three million A4 full-color pages, at an estimated cost of EUR 0.02 per page, and can print on papers ranging from 40 to 350 gsm.

A new front end, the Swift DFE, is said to process PostScript, PDF, PPML and PPML/VDX files at high speed and is designed to support future JDF-based digital-printing job tickets. The controller reportedly can handle graphically complex variable-data print jobs of more than one million records per job.

Multi-page documents can be printed at a speed of 7,800 full-color pph (130 A4 ppm). Every Xeikon 5000 comes standard with the Axeda DRM, a client-software solution that runs on the digital front-end and, with Acunia's wireless technology, allows Xeikon's service organization to remotely monitor press runs and quickly identify potential problems.

An inline densitometer ensures good front-to-back and color registration as well as color matching, eliminating the need for manual intervention.

The Xeikon 5000 can be equipped with a fifth duplex color station to add spot color, special toner for security applications or MICR toner, without impacting its printing speed. See www.xeikon.com.

Digital press for larger commercial printers

The HP Indigo 5000 digital press, for midsize to large commercial printers, is reportedly the first Indigo press created end-to-end under HP (Palo Alto, CA). The press prints at up to 4,000 full-color A4 pph using the latest-generation ElectroInk formulation, now featuring improved rub resistance and ink adhesion, particularly on coated stocks. The press can print up to seven colors and on a range of substrates, including labels and transparencies. A new front-end, Press Production Manager, includes a remote user interface that allows production managers to check the real-time status of any job.

The HP Indigo 5000 uses a new color-management tool developed by HP. CMYK Plus is said to preserve skin tones and grayscales while expanding colors nearer the edge of the gamut. Adaptive halftoning technology further analyzes text as it's being printed and intelligently adds dots to fill in gaps at edges, reportedly ensuring sharper text and images.

The HP Indigo 5000 comes standard with three paper trays for a combined capacity of 5,500 sheets. Operators can load a paper tray while printing from another tray. HP will begin taking orders at Drupa, with delivery expected in Q4.

Commercial digital press

HP introduces the HP Indigo 3050 digital press for mainstream commercial printers. Based on and replacing the HP Indigo 3000, the 3050 features the same image quality and seven-color printing capability as other HP Indigos. Improvements on the 3000 include increased paper-feed reliability, improved handling of low-grammage papers, and new Series 4.0 ElectroInk technology that has better rub resistance and ink adhesion while also offering longer photo-imaging plate life. The 3050 also includes variable-data printing capability through a QuarkXTension. See www.hp.com.

Large-format press/JDF networking

MAN Roland (Westmont, IL) will showcase a large-format, 73-inch, eight-color sheetfed press running live jobs at Drupa.

The Roland 900 XXL will be equipped with an inline slitter for mid-sheet cuts. Sheet travel is camera-monitored, and the presses can print on paper and light board. The Roland 900 XXL is integrated in the PECOM network and features automatic ink control and optional colorimetry.

The press reportedly features 328 percent more printable area than a conventional 40-inch machine, and 22 percent more printable area than the largest 47 × 64-inch press. It can handle substrates up to 48-pt. thick, at a top speed of 13,000 sph.

Other company highlights include:

  • Printnet, a JDF-compliant network solution that lets printers integrate all elements of their production workflow with the MIS system of their choice

  • Roland 500 (23.23 × 29.13-inch sheet size)

  • A 41-inch, six-color ROLAND 700 with a double coater, Eagle Eye quality control and an inline sorter

  • A 29-inch, four-color Roland 200 with new ergonomic plate-loading features

  • New postpress capabilities for the DICOweb

  • A Rotoman commercial-web press

  • A Lithoman printing unit, from the company's largest web press

A simulation of the new 24-page Colorman XXL will showcase its 36 fps speed. Another simulation will feature DICOkit, which can add plateless offset capabilities to existing MAN Roland web presses. See www.manroland.com

VLF CTP, workflow and process builds

Creo's (Billerica, MA) Magnus very-large format (VLF) CTP device for large commercial and packaging printers can image 15 80.7 × 59.4-inch plates per hour, or, if smaller plates are loaded two at a time, 31 28 × 39.3 inch plates per hour. A two-plate buffered system allows the operator to load one plate and queue the next plate on the load table. After exposure, the first plate is ejected to the processor and the queued plate is automatically loaded onto the drum. With multicassette automation, the Magnus VLF device operates with four cassettes of 75 plates per cassette. Slipsheet removal is automatic. Operators can reload cassettes while the device continues imaging and picking plates from another bay. The platesetter's 63 × 83-inch drum enables it to image plates for KBA's Rapida 205 press and other VLF presses.

Workflow | The company's Prinergy Evo workflow reportedly offers a low cost of ownership and automated desktop operation. Prinergy technology powers page processing, OPI, normalize, optimize, color management and trapping tasks. Prinergy Evo outputs to file, as well as to proofers and CTF/CTP devices. Configurations include: output; refine; refine and output; and refine, trap, proof and output.

Creo has collaborated with Networked Graphic Production (NGP) partner Xerox to enable commercial printers to launch the Xerox FreeFlow Print Manager directly from Prinergy and submit offset jobs for digital printing to the Spire color servers driving Xerox presses. The hybrid workflow provides full access to Prinergy and Synapse toolsets.

Synapse Director provides production management and connectivity between the Brisque and NGP systems, facilitating end-to-end production workflow systems. Real-time production information can be accessed from the Brisque and Synapse Director by Synapse Link software and interfaced to MIS from NGP partners or standalone reporting tools.

Color management | Mio Edition for Profile Wizard color-management software helps designers and prepress specialists create ICC profiles. It supports Mac OS X and Windows and the GretagMacbeth iCColor spectrophotometer. Users can create profiles for monitors, input and output devices.

Special ink alternative | Spotless 4 and Spotless X let printers represent spot colors on press with process inks, eliminating multiple press runs and washups. Spot colors are automatically converted to process colors, with press, paper and ink set taken into account.

The bottom line: Creo shipped its first CTP engine in 1994 and reports that most of those machines are still in production. The thermal-technology powerhouse recently acquired a Spectratech International plate facility in Middleway, WV. Look for its new Mirus, a negative-thermal plate based on the acquired technology. With EFI/Printcafe leaving NGP, and we can expect more JDF/NGP news at Drupa (see related news story on p 10.). See www.creo.com.

Print/packaging workflows and CTP solutions

Esko-Graphics's (Kennesaw, GA) JDF-enabled Scope workflows for packaging and commercial printers integrate design with production, facilitating collaboration and project coordination. For commercial printer users, it links traditional prepress functions with sales offices, the pressroom and the finishing and logistics department, applying JDF links for job scheduling, remote viewing and approval, plateroom feedback and other functions.

Applications for the workflow range from handling complex impositions for large-format web presses to automating content management, different language versions and proofing multipage documents for books, magazines and catalogs.

Scope components include FlowDrive, a workflow server for small and midsize printers; BackStage and FlexRip powered configurations for applications requiring a high degree of automation (such as book and magazine publishing); and a variety of screening technologies including the recently announced HighLine, used to reproduce high-screen rulings while imaging at standard-device resolutions. (For more on HighLine, see “The time is right,” on p. 22.)

Platesetters | Esko hinted it will unveil a UV platesetter. It is growing its Plate-Driver CTP family with the addition of the four-up PlateDriver Compact CTP system. It uses a 40-mW violet laser, which carries an unconditional three-year warranty, and can expose silver and photopolymer plates. The system can be integrated with an existing prepress workflow or with Esko-Graphics' FlowDrive 4 workflow solution.

On the polyester side, look for the DPX 4, a four-up internal-drum machine. Producing imaged, processed, punched, dried and cut-to-size press-ready plates as large as 26.77 × 29.90 inches, the DPX 4 can expose plates at any resolution between 1200 and 3000 dpi. The company also offers PlateDriver models in four-, six-, and eight-up configurations in semi- or fully automated versions.

The bottom line: Esko-Graphics was created from the 2001 merger of Barco and Purup-Eskofot. Kirkbi A/S, the same Danish company that founded and owns the Lego toy company, now owns 100 percent of Esko-Graphics. Kirkbi reportedly has more than euro 1.5 billion in assets.

Esko has exited the newspaper market, but reportedly enjoys 55 percent market share of packaging production software.

Kim Graven-Nielsen, president and CEO, said packagers and commercial printers must confront industry commoditization by collaborating more closely with customers and partners. See www.esko-graphics.com.

High-speed digital color press, direct-mail imprinting

Kodak Versamark (Dayton, OH) will showcase its Versamark V-series of high-speed digital printers, monochrome Vantage and Jetblack printing systems, and its 4000 series of imprinters. Kodak Versamark's VX5000 printing system is driven by the CS600 controller developed jointly with EFI. It has a print resolution of 300 × 1200 dpi and reportedly can print up to 325 fpm with a throughput more than 1,400 ppm.

New inkjet technology reportedly enables higher resolution and compact dots, providing greater legibility for text as small as four pt. The company claims its “Business Color” technology approaches continuous tone offset quality.

The 4350 printing system with UV-based inks can print on almost all paper substrates as well as plastic, flexible packaging and paperboard, at resolutions up to 300 × 600 drops dpi.

For transaction and direct-mail printers, the company offers the JetBlack monochrome printing system in two configurations.

The bottom line: This past January, Eastman Kodak acquired Scitex Digital Printing and renamed it Kodak Versamark. In addition to Versamark, Kodak's commercial-print group includes NexPress, Kodak Polychrome Graphics and Encad. “The Kodak names gives us brand recognition,” said Homi Shamir, president of Kodak Versamark. “We can make our business much bigger.”

Plates, platesetters, workflow and proofing

Agfa's :Azura chemistry-free thermal-digital plate will be commercially available before Drupa. Based on the company's :Thermolite Plus plate technology, the aluminum non-ablative plate reportedly has wide exposure and press latitude and can be used for run lengths of up to 100,000 impressions. Only non-image areas require gumming. :Azura plates are for medium volume (up to 8,000 m2/year) users in the two-, four- and eight-up format.

Platesetters | The manual input :Palladio is a four-up violet platesetter for entry-level users. It currently has a 5-mW laser diode, but in July, both the manual and automatic :Palladio, as well as the company's :Galileo violet platesetters, will switch to a 30-mW laser diode. The manual :Palladio outputs 17 pph vs. 20 pph for the automated version. A new plate option, the :N91v is a negative-working, violet-sensitised version an existing photopolymer plate the company first developed for newspapers.

A four-up thermal platesetter, :Acento is for midsize printers. A variety of different automation and speed configurations are offered. Users have three plateloading choices. The :Acento L-300 plateloader keeps 300 plates online in three cassettes, the :Acento L-100 keeps 100 plates online in a single cassette and the :Acento L-50 plateloader with manual slipsheet-removal keeps 50 plates online. The platesetter is optimized for :Thermostar plates and :ApogeeX workflow and is capable of :Sublima screening at 240 lpi.

For larger printers, there's the thermal :Xcalibur XXT, offered in 45-inch width/eight-up and VLF formats.

Workflow | :ApogeeX 2.0 is based on PDF, JDF and Agfa's “digital film.” Connectivity features include drivers for new Agfa and non-Agfa platesetters and proofers.

Agfa also announced additional features for Delano 1.1, Agfa's Web-enabled project management system.

Proofing | The :Grand SherpaMatic is a large-format, double-sided imposition proofer. It features a 50-inch width, eight color ink set and two resolutions: 360 × 360 dpi and 720 × 720 dpi. Agfa also will be demonstrating :ApogeeX: WebApproval + CM for soft proofing and its hard copy remote proofing capabilities using the :Sherpa 24m, :Delano, :ApogeeX and standards such as PDF and JDF.

The bottom line: This past January, Agfa acquired Dotrix, a manufacturer of industrial inkjet presses. In March, it acquired Lastra's plate business.

Don't look for Agfa to join NGP — it has pledged allegiance to JDF. Along with its other pre-Drupa releases, the company issued a statement saying it would join EFI, Heidelberg and Screen in “formalizing our commitment to JDF” at the show. According to the release, “[We] believe CIP4 is the best place to develop the standard and to verify interoperability.”

Heidelberg offers few Drupa hints

Heidelberg (Kennesaw, GA) is holding most of its news until Drupa. As widely anticipated, the company announced last month that it is transferring its digital division to Eastman Kodak Co. (Rochester, NY) and its web offset division to Goss International (Bolingbrook, IL).

Although the company is now concentrating on its sheetfed business, its booth will feature NexPress, Digimaster and web press equipment as well as more than 40 new products.

Heidelberg, which had previously indicated it would continue to sell the Digimaster and NexPress lines, has amended that stance. The company said its global sales organization “will work closely with Kodak but will not engage in competitive activities related to the digital division during the next two years.”

“This is not a hostile takeover,” stresses Niels M. Winther, president, Heidelberg USA. “We're working for a very smooth handover.”

Heidelberg will occupy Halls One and Two. Its 84,000 sq. ft. will be divided into industrial, packaging, commericial print, commercial web and variable print sections, which will all be linked by its Prinect workflow. The Prinect area will also feature new remote-service offerings.