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May 29, 2001 12:00 AM

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The new MetaDimension PDF workflow module from Heidelberg (Kennesaw, GA) reportedly provides printers, trade shops and service bureaus with a cost-effective gateway to PDF-based workflows. MetaDimension's open interface also facilitates integration into existing workflow systems. MetaDimension provides smaller print shops and service bureaus with a cost-effective alternative for moving to Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) based workflows.

Heidelberg plans to offer its new MetaDimension RIP (Raster Image Processor) and workflow software for plate and filmsetters in the second half of this year.

Open System Architecture & Modular Design
MetaDimension combines open system architecture with a modular design. Software can be integrated into existing workflow environments from other suppliers. MetaDimension is built on the Adobe PostScript 3 printing and imaging technology and is a PDF renderer. It supports a wide variety of prepress and workflow features and tools within the Adobe printing platform. These include color management, proofing, trapping, page positioning, CIP 4 and OPI (Open Prepress Interface). Users also have access to a diverse range of Acrobat plug-ins and applications to ensure a high-productivity PDF workflow.

MetaDimension has already been prepared for the new JDF (Job Definition Format) industry standard. In the fall of this year, a version will be available which will be able to import and export screened TIFF data to control third party devices.

"In developing MetaDimension, Heidelberg takes another important step towards an open industry standard based on PDF and JDF which will allow an end-to-end workflow throughout the entire prepress sector," said Ray Cassino, Director of Prepress Marketing, Heidelberg USA.

MetaDimension is based on PDF and uses Adobe Portable Job Ticket Format (PJTF). Both PostScript (Level 1, Level 2, and 3) and PDF are supported as standard input formats. InRIP features such as trapping, page positioning and color management ensure a compact, automated workflow. An open, modular process can be constructed in conjunction with other Heidelberg products like the Acrobat plug-in SupertrapTM or SignastationTM imposition software. Signastation can not only impose highly complex jobs in conjunction with PDF, job tickets, and PostScript, but can also transfer all job data to downstream production stations using CIP 4 PPF (Print Production Format). This provides a means for automating both ink zone presettings, and cutter and folder settings, which considerably reduce set-up times.

MetaDimension can be customized to the user’s needs and expanded as required. Software packages such as PreflowTM, consisting of Supertrap, PitStop Professional and PitStop Server, for generating PDF data and the ROOM package for fans of the "Rip Once Output Many" concept are also available. Integration with an existing Delta Technology workflow is made possible by the Delta-Flow option for importing Delta lists into MetaDimension. MetaDimension can be operated from any PC or Mac in the network.

"MetaDimension’s open and modular architecture gives customers the reliability they need for their workflow," said James Mauro, product manager for MetaDimension. "Users need not invest in an entirely new infrastructure, but can continue using their existing modules and operating procedures, and adapt MetaDimension to suit their needs. This technology can provide customers with a cost effective springboard to a full-featured PDF workflow."

True-color Softproofing Proofing options--include concept proofs on desktop printers, true-color page proofs with integrated color management, and true-color form proofs using, e.g. the Hewlett Packard DesignJet family. Since MetaDimension outputs standard TIFF, virtually any proofer can be integrated into the workflow. The true-color softproof option supports customized resolutions and delivers highly accurate results on the monitor.

Once the finished proof is approved, MetaDimension can automatically initiate imaging to plate or film. Jobstream, a plug-in for the Adobe printer driver, increases reliability in production before the data is even output as composite PostScript. Jobstream helps ensure properly executed InRIP separations, and known problems can be corrected with composite PostScript data. This prevents errors in the output that could otherwise lead to costly and time-consuming reprints.

MetaDimension’s bandwidth ranges from the simple, cost-effective software PostScript RIP for small filmsetters to the large, PDF workflow engine for a whole range of film and platesetters.

MetaDimension supports the familiar HQS (High Quality Screening), I.S. (Irrational Screening) and Diamond Screening. All screening is calculated directly in the software, without the need for any additional hardware.

MetaDimension extends the range of workflow products offered by Heidelberg in the lower and medium price performance sectors and will be the digital front end for all new output devices. Delta Technology continues as the base for ROOM workflow , while Prinergy remains the high-end PDF workflow system based on Adobe Extreme technology for a fully automated, database controlled workflow.

Open, Modular Workflow
MetaDimension is the first step towards an open, modular PDF and JDF based workflow, which Heidelberg is developing not just for film, platesetters, and proofers, but also for digital presses such as the Quickmaster DI, Speedmaster DI, Digimaster and NexPress. Acrobat plug-ins and applications such as Supertrap and Signastation will continue to be extended, and new modules for special tasks will be added. As a solution provider, Heidelberg is committed to more than simply developing these modules. It is also working on integrating other makes of products to satisfy the workflow requirements of its highly diverse customer base.

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