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GRAPH EXPO: automation from prepress through postpress

April 2, 2014

About 38,000 people attended Graph Expo last month. The show was smaller than in previous years, reflecting both current economic conditions as well as a consolidating industry. Nonetheless, many exhibitors have indicated they were pleased with their post-show results.

There were few surprises at the show, but many interesting long-term implications, especially on the computer-integrated-manufacturing (CIM) front.


Agfa (Ridgefield Park, NJ), Heidelberg (Kennesaw, GA) and Creo (Bedford, MA) took overall booth honors in the “Must See 'em” competition, with CIM playing a prominent role.

Agfa's booth showed the Graphic Enterprise of the future — the complete integration of business and production systems — featuring Apogee X, a modular and scaleable workflow system based on PDF, JDF and Digital Film; Apogee Create, which enables content creators to generate workflow-optimized PDF files; and its Delano Web-based software system.

In addition to its workflow, proofing, plate and platesetter solutions, Agfa introduced Sublima, a hybrid-screening technology that combines the company's Balanced Screening with stochastic screening to provide continous-tone quality.

The first products available from Heidelberg's Prinect CIM solution are Printready and Prinect Internet Portal. Printready is a scaleable PDF/JDF prepress workflow that uses client/server architecture. Printready Cockpit, a new user interface, defines automated processes such as normalizing, preflighting, trapping, color management, imposition and proofing.

Prinect Internet Portal, previously called HeiPort, enables online print buying, remote proofing (through a collaboration with RealTimeImage), custom branding and secure file transfer. In the future, the e-portal will offer e-cataloging and template creation, preflighting and personalized variable-data printing. Prinect Internet Portal can be accessed from a Web browser and is available to U.S. customers for a monthly subscription fee, with additional charges for remote proofing.

Creo, Komori (Rolling Meadows, IL) and Printcafe (Pittsburgh) provided a real-world CIM example: JohnsByrne (Niles, IL), a $20 million commercial printer that integrates content creation, prepress, press, postpress and MIS. JohnsByrne's installation links more than a dozen components, including Creo's PDF-creation tools, the Synapse InSite prepress Internet portal, platesetters and proofers; Printcafe's Hagen OA; and Komori's K-Station and presses, as well as postpress equipment (see p. 47).

At Graph Expo, Komori demonstrated the Hagen OA management system transferring data through the Komori K-Station to the presses on the show floor and then exporting the press data back to the Hagen OA system. Komori also will incorporate Hagen OA into its demo center in Rolling Meadows to show customers the benefits of CIM.

Printcafe demonstrated Press Connector on MAN Roland's (Westmont, IL) PECOM press-operating and networking system as well as Komori's K-Station. Press Connector is a JDF-based integration model that links Printcafe's management systems with press consoles and on-board production-management systems to provide a real-time, two-way flow of information, including makeready times and good/ bad counts.

MAN Roland's JobPilot, a PECOM software module, creates, edits and organizes electronic job tickets that enable users to preset more than 100 automated functions on MAN Roland equipment, while the press prints the previous job.

Another module, PressMonitor, can access the working status of jobs currently in production and allows all pressroom shifts to be continuously monitored. PressMonitor can also call up print-production data on completed work to identify pressroom trends.

Those with legacy equipment can build a CIM solution that combines four PECOM modules (ServerNet, PrepressLink, JobPilot and PressMonitor) and Printcafe's Auto-Count 1000 direct-machine interface, which enables users to obtain MIS data from older presses and bindery equipment.


Printable Technologies (Solana Beach, CA) and Prism USA (Plymouth, MA) jointly announced the first PrintTalk-based integration to be used in production between a Web-based ordering system and a print-management information system (MIS). At the show, Printable demonstrated JDF and PrintTalk connectivity to Hewlett-Packard (HP) Indigo (Woburn, MA) presses and Prism's management software. Prism used PrintTalk (Reston, VA) and JDF to connect its print-management system to ScenicSoft's (Lynnwood, WA) UpFront print production tools, as well as to Printable's Desktop.

PrintTalk, a non-profit consortium of MIS and e-commerce vendors, was formed several years ago to create an open standard for the direct communication of data between e-commerce applications and business-management systems.

“JDF provides all the tools to automate all the linkages end to end within a printing plant,” explains Jim Mekis, chairman of PrintTalk. “PrintTalk extends that automation beyond the printing plant to the customer, who is the source of information (raw material) that will become part of the job ticket, as well as to material suppliers and the subcontractor, who may produce part of the job. PrintTalk extends JDF to address the whole supply chain.”


ScenicSoft, which was recently acquired by Creo, also had CIM-related news. UpFront 1.6, its production- planning tool, enables CIP3 saddlestitching data to be exported to machines equipped with Müller Martini's (Hauppauge, NY) Automatic Makeready System (AMRYS). UpFront extends AMRYS automation through a digital CIP3 link that can accept and interpret PPF files. Data only need to be entered once, at the beginning of the job-planning process. The software then generates detailed finishing data, which can be transferred by e-mail or a network link.

ScenicSoft and MBO America (Westampton, NJ) also announced that UpFront 2.0, slated for release in Q1 2003, will let users of all MBO folders equipped with Navigator or Rapidset directly export finishing information.


New press announcements were somewhat eclipsed by the emphasis on CIM, but there was still something for almost everyone, especially in the midsize segment.

Heidelberg introduced the Speedmaster CD 74 with UV integration. All UV equipment on the 23½ × 29⅛-inch press is completely integrated, enabling fast changeovers from conventional to UV chemistry. Also making its U.S. debut was AxisControl, Heidelberg's color-measuring system in the CP2000 Center for online spectrophotometrical color measurement and control in the color bar.

MAN Roland won “Must See 'em” accolades for its Roland 500, a six-color plus coater press. Rated at 18,000 sph, the six-up 23.23 × 29.13-inch press can handle substrates up to 40 pt. thick. Applications include carton, in-mold-label and book production; blister packaging; and publication and plastic printing. The PECOM automation and operating system equips the press for networked printing.

KBA (Williston, VT) introduced a coater version of its 74 Karat 29-inch direct-imaging press. The coater lets users finish sheets immediately or send them back through the press. At the show, the press printed a four-page brochure with an immediate second pass, since plates had already been imaged with the front and back layouts.

Komori's Lithrone S40 evolved from its Lithrone 40 platform. In addition to console-driven makeready and what is said to be a high-performance inking system, the press automatically ramps up to 7,000 sph before sheets start to feed. It's also available as a convertible perfecting press (see p. 53).

Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses' (Lincolnshire, IL) Diamond 2000 23½ × 29-inch press made its world debut at the show. Rated at 16,000 sph, the press can print six-up 8½ × 11-inch signatures or three-up 11 × 17-inch forms. Available in up to 10 colors, it can print on substrates ranging from 0.002-inch paper to 24-pt. board. The press can be equipped with closed-loop color-control technology and a CIP3/4 prepress link.

In the fullsize format, Mitsubishi introduced a long perfector press, the Diamond 3000R-Ultra Coat. Said to be the first five-over-five, 28 × 40-inch perfecting press with two coating units, the press has a coater after the fifth printing unit, enabling coating to be applied to both sides of the sheet. The Diamond 3000R is rated at 11,000 sph in perfecting mode and 13,000 in straight. The first Diamond 3000R has been installed at Dynagraf (Canton, MA), a sheetfed/web printer.


Some pundits said the show represented a digital-printing milestone. “It's the beginning of digital's challenge to analog offset lithography,” says Lamparter. “The costs are still too high, but quality and registration are better and the color gamut is broader.”

Highlights included Scitex Digital Printing's (Dayton, OH) technology demonstration, Xerox's (Rochester, NY) iGen3 and Heidelberg's NexPress. Said to be the fastest, smallest, continuous inkjet printhead, the Scitex press featured four nine-inch- wide printheads producing 32-inch-wide 300 × 1200-dpi images in full process color at 325 fpm. The press is expected to be commercially available at the end of 2003.

Xerox debuted the DocuColor 6060, which offers 600 × 600-dpi resolution (eight-bit depth), three new color servers, several inline finishing options and print speeds up to 60 ppm, with duplex speeds said to be the fastest of any press in its class. The 6060 reportedly offers faster speeds on heavier stocks, a wide range of substrate options and easier preventive maintenance.

Heidelberg expanded its high-volume, black-and-white digital portfolio with the Digimaster 9150i, which is said to achieve 150 images per minute regardless of accessories or finishing equipment used. The system's paper-storage capacity of 8,000 to 12,000 sheets enables a duty cycle of three million to five million impressions per month (with post-process inserter). The system is scaleable — options include the Imagedirect 665 scanner, ImageSmart software, roll feeders, post-process inserter, bookletmaker, perfect binder and stacker.

Heidelberg's Digital Solution Center developed the print system as well as its new hardware and software options, and will make it available to Heidelberg market centers and channel partners Canon (Lake Success, NY), Danka (St. Petersburg, FL) and IBM Printing Systems (Boulder, CO).

Buskro USA Ltd. (Norwich, NY) introduced the Atlas UVC, a high-speed, variable-data inkjet printer utilizing UV-curable ink to print on plastic and metal without solvent emissions. It prints one- inch-high variable data, addresses, graphics and barcodes with 660-dpi resolution.

In addition to the imageRunner Pro 150+ (its version of the 9150i), Canon introduced a new line of large-format printers: the six-color, high-speed imagePROGRAF W7200 and W7250. The roll-fed devices offer outputs of 36 inches and 24 inches respectively, with resolution up to 600 × 1200 dpi. Canon also debuted the W2200 color-graphics printer for 13 × 19-inch proofs, comps and digital photos.

Océ (Boca Raton, FL) announced a cooperative marketing alliance with Bell & Howell (Chicago). Océ's solutions — including its DemandStream 8090cx and CPS700 Color Production System — were shown with Bell & Howell's finishing equipment. On the DemandStream, digitally printed output was slit, cut, stacked and delivered to either a DemandWorks binder or saddlestitcher. The DemandWorks perfect-binding system accepts either single- or dual-stream input with full integrity tracking and color matching.

Look for more show news and products in our December issue.

Some CTP highlights

The show boasted so many CTP devices that the “Must See 'em” panel declined to single out individual products, saying the whole category deserved to be seen. But the following products were given “Worth-a-Look” recognition:


Agfa's (Ridgefield Park, NJ) thermal Xcalibur 45 is a high-speed, eight-up system that incorporates advanced Grating Light Valve (GLV) technology. The GLV's micro-shutters modulate the laser light, producing individually addressable writing beams, ensuring fast writing at low drum rotational speed, reportedly simplifying operation and ensuring long-term reliable operation.


BasysPrint's (Fairburn, GA) UV-setter 710-f uses conventional metal offset printing plates and a flatbed exposure system. It can handle four-up and fullsize plates up to 37 × 45 inches. The UV-setter 710-f is now going into full production.


Esko-Graphics' (Kennesaw, GA) PlateDriver 4 Semi loads plates manually, one or two at a time, and exposes them with a violet laser, reportedly providing high-end quality and productivity at a cost-effective price point. The PlateDriver uses silver or polymer plates and is targeted for operations that lack the volume to justify full automation.


PISCES' (Nashua, NH) Jet Plate desktop CTP system utilizes conventional, pre-sensitized, subtractive plates up to 18 × 25 inches imaged with a commercial inkjet printer. Jet Plate's proprietary Platemarker fluid can be jetted onto a standard commercial printing plate. The fluid chemically reacts with the photosensitive coating to insolubilize it, as would occur with normal exposure.


Screen's (Rolling Meadows, IL) external-drum PlateRite 4100 thermal 830-nm platesetter produces plates for two- and four-page presses at up to 10 plates per hour. The PlateRite 4100 can be equipped with inline punching blocks to ensure on-press registration. It supports a maximum plate size of 32.7 × 26 inches and a minimum plate size of 12.8 × 14.5 inches. An automatic plate loader with slip-sheet removal and an automatic plate transport to processor are also available.

Screen's PlateRite Ultima, a thermal large/multiformat platesetter, can output plates from 32-page, 93.7 × 50.2 inches down to two-page, 19.6 × 14.5 inches. Dual 512-channel laser imaging heads can output two eight-up plates simultaneously, producing 34 eight-up plates per hour. Automatic loading through the multicassette autoloader enables up to 600 plates to be on line.

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