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Remote-proofing sidebar 2: The case of the Wisconsin printer and the New Jersey customer

Feb 1, 2002 12:00 AM

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This article is an online sidebar to "Remote proofing: close at hand," February 2002, p. 18.


Two and a half years ago, ColorCraft Graphic Arts (Manitowoc, WI) adopted remote proofing. That’s when one of its main customers, Santa’s Best, a manufacturer of Christmas decorations, moved its operation from Manitowoc to New Jersey. Color Craft is a commercial printer that relies on package printing for almost 60 percent of its business.

Before the move, sending hard-copy proofs back and forth was easy. Color Craft operates a second facility in Manitowoc, and couriers traveling between plants could drop proofs off at Santa’s Best, which was en route. "To keep Santa’s Best as a customer, we had to come up with a method of transferring files between us for proofing," explains Michael Thee, graphic systems administrator for Color Craft.

Both companies installed Xerox (Rochester, NY) Phaser 780 color laser printers in their graphics departments, settling the question about which output engine to use. File transfer is handled by Group Logic’s (Arlington, VA) MassTransit software, installed on dedicated Macintosh computers driving the Phaser 780s at both Color Craft and at Santa’s Best. (Thee flew to New Jersey to install and configure the Mac at Santa’s Best and, as a courtesy, returns periodically to make sure the system is running optimally.) The companies chose a direct modem-to-modem connection, sending files up to 20 MB over 56K modems.

The process to send a file for remote proofing is simple. Designers at Color Craft print a document to their hard disk, generating a PostScript file (with a ColorSync Commercial Press profile). They drag-and-drop that file into a hot folder on their desktops, which automatically sends it to the Mac at Santa’s Best. The file is then automatically printed on the Phaser 780 at Santa’s Best. "It all happens in the background, with no user intervention," Thee explains.

Color Craft does not use this remote-proofing system for contract proofs, relying instead on an Imation (now acquired by Kodak Polychrome Graphics, Norwalk, CT) Matchprint for final color approval. "The colors printed by the Phaser 780 are a very good match, however," observes Thee. "It’s not a contract proof, but it’s pretty close."

While Thee says having a remote system saves the firms about two days with each proofing cycle--otherwise, "a courier would be carrying hard-copy proofs to New Jersey and back," he says--he isn’t convinced that remote proofing is a money-saver. "The transfer software cost us a couple of thousand dollars, and the long-distance modem calls are pretty expensive," he observes. "More than anything, it saves time and keeps the customer happy."

Thee expects Color Craft’s remote-proofing program to be extended to other customers--and soon. Cookware manufacturer Mirro, one of Color Craft’s top five customers, recently moved to Toledo, OH.