According to many economic pundits, since interest rates are at all-time decade lows, now is the time to make those capital expenditures that you have been putting off. I thoroughly agree with this and think if we were all to make capital investments, our economy would quickly begin to revive. Apparently this year’s show attendees got the message, as FujiFilm’s Peter Vanderlaan observed, "Prepress buyers are more serious than at Print 01.”

CAP Ventures, Charlie Corr
Although business results as well as forecasts otherwise remain rather gloomy, CAP Venture’s Charlie Corr is forecasting a possible recovery in the second quarter of 2003. Corr was quick to remind his audience that "a rising tide will not raise all boats", since the nature of the printing business has dramatically changed. Corr cited several examples to support his contention. The first is the reduction in the production of printed manuals which has dropped from 40% in 1995 to 15%, currently. Where has this volume gone? The Internet. According to AF Lewis statistics, Corr cited a reduction of 21,000 printing presses in the market place since 1999. Another area where print providers need to concentrate is on the reduction of time spent fixing incoming files. According to Corr, 75% of all incoming files need to be fixed at an average time of 34 minutes per file.

Corr also pointed out that print providers continue to buy prepress equipment in an effort to streamline internal processes, control expenses and improve profits. Since printing is fast becoming a commodity, it is the value added services and controlling costs that are both critical and fundamental to survival in this mature, nearly $1 trillion manufacturing sector.

A look down the aisles


Agfa Graphic Systems was showing ApogeeX, Agfa's workflow software based on PDF, JDF and Digital Film, exhibiting both automation and ease of use. Using a modular, Lego Blocks approach, via TCP/IP, Apogee pulls in data, which is stored in a database and allows for scaled client server processing and bidirectional data sharing.

Sublima, a hybrid, high quality screening technology, is really big news at Agfa. Sublima produces some absolutely amazing results. One interesting aspect of this screening technology is its ability to allow newspapers to achieve very high quality results by running 175 line screens on web presses without some of the traditional drawbacks associated with running high line screens on newsprint.

Xcalibur 45 platesetter seen for the first time in the U.S. is Agfa’s new entry-level 8-up thermal platesetter. It outputs 15 full-format plates an hour at 2400 dpi, in either manual or automatic mode. Xcalibur 45E is upgradeable, bringing it to 20 plates per hour.

The Sherpa 24 seven-color piezo-electric inkjet is now using two black ink cartridges and higher 1440 x 1440 resolution for improved vignettes. The Sherpa 24m system includes the Apogee Proofer RIP, Agfa ColorTune Pro color management software and Quality Management System (QMS). These capabilities were showing outstanding results on the floor and will be shipping in the first quarter of 2003.

Creo with Scenicsoft is a natural fit since they explained they both have a majority of common customers.

SynapseR Link software provides automatic and bidirectional exchange of prepress production data between database driven print production systems and management information systems, such as Hagen/OA from Printcafe. Synapse reads significant events and tracks alteration requests, prepress material usage into its database acting as an interactive, collaborative publishing and tracking tool. An additional benefit is the ability to track data for the purpose of more accurate billing as well as pinpointing areas where process and cost savings can be implemented.

Electronics for Imaging unveiled its most powerful color server to date, the Fiery® Q4000. The Q4000 was showing off sophisticated color management tools, extensive variable data printing and transactional printing support, and advanced production automation and workflow management.

Velocity OneFlow, EFI’s prepress workflow solution for both offset and digital, was also shown with great acceptance from show goers. OneFlow is a PDF based workflow, providing custom automation for both offset and digital printing, with preflighting, imposition, trapping, RIPping, color management and proofing tools. Multiple output devices, i.e., platesetters, imagesetters, DI presses, production digital copiers, and wide format printers can receive output from a single OneFlow interface.

Enfocus’ big news is its Library product being bundled with Heidelberg’s Prinect, providing PDF preflighting and certified PDF output.

Fuji Photo Film’s Saber Luxel Vx platesetter series 8 up Luxel Vx9600 and the 4 up Luxel Vx6000 systems - feature 30mw violet technology. Media requires only yellow safe light handling and supports web, half-web and sheetfed presses with portrait and landscape plate loading options.

Throughput for the single laser system is 19 plates/hour, and 32 plates/hour for the dual laser system. Both models utilize a 30mw, 405nm violet laser and are available in a one or two laser configuration, and are field upgradable to a dual laser configuration. Dual lasers almost double the machine capacity and provide additional benefit of redundancy. In a dual laser configuration, the plate setter will continue to function, but at a reduced speed, thus allowing the shop to continue operation.

FinalProof provides high end half-tone proofing for the discriminating printer. New colors - red, orange, green and blue - have been added, as well as a new seamless link to Brisque workflow, called Aozora.

FujiFilm’s Match Certified color matching service assures high quality proof-to-press match. Using proprietary software, customers can visually and colorimetrically match their FINALPROOF digital contract proofer or PictroProof digital contone proofer to printing conditions and ink sets. The result is a proof that has been certified by the experts.

Although not new at GraphExpo, PictroProof is a remote proofing device, referred to by FujiFilm personnel as the "Kleenex of Remote Digital Proofing". There are 650 of these devices installed, including Time, Banta, and Sony. Sony uses the system to provide worldwide remote proofing for its products. Calibration is automatic, occurring with loading of each role of paper which yield 128 prints per role.

Co-Rés Screening is an amazing new screening technology that produces absolutely incredible on press results with revolutionary software algorithms which virtually eliminate the formation of moiré patterns.

"Print is not dead, but alive and thriving,” according to Heidelberg’s Neils Winther. With a connectivity theme, Heidelberg continued their focus on the customer being the center of Heidelberg’s business; and the need for connectivity and efficient workflow - the focus of Heidelberg’s Prinect Printready System.

Heidelberg's Prinect Printready System provides the opportunity to automate and map all prepress tasks in a freely configurable, digital workflow. This new solution is fully modular and in line with the basic Prinect principle, Heidelberg's Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) system. Individual components can be selected and added to the overall system rapidly, in line with specific requirements.

Kodak Polychrome Graphics
Kodak Polychrome Graphics’ (KPG) Matchprint Virtual Proofing System uses the RealTimeImage engine with additional KPG software, and enables consistent viewing of CMYK color reproduction via RGB displays. Sales usually are in groups of two or more and include a darkened viewing kiosk, dual monitors, light box, installation and training. Plans to ship early in 2003 will follow the completion of Beta testing with approximately 11 customers from advertising agencies, publishers, pre-press operations and in-house marketing communications departments.

Blue spot color and opaque white spot color have been added to the Kodak Approval XP System. The blue donor extends the gamut of blue dominant spot colors. The new white donor allows users to accurately produce opaque white on a wide variety of packaging substrates.

With new software, Matchprint Professional Server Version 3.0 delivers color critical, short-run printing and accurate proofing. Version 3.0, is driving the Xerox DocuColor 12 and the Canon CLC 1180 color laser printer and delivers color critical proofing and simulates Matchprint Analog proofs, and other industry standard color spaces.

The new Scorpion Thermal Waterless printing Plate features accurate color reproduction, precise dot control and consistency, and superior on press performance. They are rated at 100-200,000 impressions and can be exposed using most thermal platesetters.

RealTimeImage is also in the medical imaging business as well as graphic arts. One has to believe that Radiologists and Oncologists remotely reviewing X-rays for second opinions on the need for surgery, is the higher use for their sophisticated imaging technology. In the graphic arts industry, RealTimeImage is distributed by Heidelberg and is the engine behind KPG’s Virtual Proofing System. It’s very sophisticated, easy to use, accepts all standard formats (including Brisque) and is absolutely outstanding for producing accurate on screen virtual proofs.