As I reported last week, Print 05 was a busy show—with more than 375 press releases across all categories, and nearly 120 in prepress and business systems alone. As is always the case with events of this magnitude, it is impossible—and probably not even useful—to write about everything and everyone. In Part Two of this three-part review of the “softer” side of print, I continue my coverage of high points and interesting discoveries in the workflow and business systems area, as well as more prepress oriented offerings.

Don’t forget to review the rest of the WhatTheyThink coverage of this massive show for more detail on offerings from companies covered by my esteemed colleagues, including Goss, Heidelberg, HP, IBM, MAN Roland, Océ, Xerox, and many, many more companies who overlap categories that are becoming increasingly harder to discreetly define!

GMC debuted its PrintNet Connect Web Services software suite at Print 05. PrintNet Connect software works in conjunction with PrintNet-T to drive multiple document-related applications from a single platform, enabling seamless production of both printed and electronic documents for businesses that are implementing a Web Services strategy. GMC also announced a collaborative effort with Xerox wherein the companies will offer PrintNet variable data document composition, process automation, and web services software solutions as components of Xerox's FreeFlow Digital Workflow Collection.

GMG introduced GMG ColorServer, a software solution that provides automatic color space conversions, scaling, sharpening, separation and optimization of pixel and PDF image data. By automating color conversion from one standard to another as well as automating other file enhancements, GMG ColorServer is able to speed up file processing and deliver increased accuracy, especially when files are directed to different output devices at the last minute due to production workloads and equipment availability. The company also announced that it had been granted SWOP certification for a proofing system comprised of its ColorProof digital proofing solution driving Epson’s new StylusPro 4800, 7800 and 9800 inkjet printers using GMG ProofPaper semiimatte paper. GMG also announced that Chromaticity was appointed as the company’s master distributor for U.S. markets, working directly with U.S. resellers of GMG products to provide presales and sales support, installation, training and post-sales support for the entire line of GMG color management and proofing products.

Gradual Software was showing Version 5.5 of CaslonFlow, its automation application that visually glues together third-party applications into one seamless flow and facilitates file transfer between remote sites. Designed to bridge the islands of automation found within most production operations in the world of printing and publishing, CaslonFlow uses configurators to automatically configure third party software applications to perform required actions within an automated workflow. Configurators are available for well-known applications including Adobe’s Creative Suite 2, Enfocus Pitstop, and new at the show, Apago’s PDF Enhancer and a range of applications from Callas Software, including pdfInspektor pdfColorConvert and pdfCorrect. With a list of price of $2,499, CaslonFlow is an affordable way for content creators, content owners and content producers to streamline labor-intensive processes for more efficient overall workflow.

Helios Software’s PDF-Native OPI workflow reeived a “Worth a Look” award for digital prepress products. This application replaces, within a PDF file, the low-res bitmap images with high-res originals, streamlining direct PDF output workflows.

Meadows Publishing Solutions was showing its DesignMerge application, which now supports InDesign as well as Quark. This tool allows users to create pre-defined “placeholders” within a Quark or InDesign document which are designated to receive variable data. The company also showcased DesignMerge Server, a suite of software modules that work with QuarkDDS, the server version of QuarkXPress, to enable users to upload QuarkXPress templates and database files to the server and create personalized output in many of the popular VDP output formats, including PPML, using only a web browser interface. Meadows’ John Kriho reports that the company is working toward a common user interface for Quark and InDesign, the PC and the Mac for availability by the On Demand Show next spring.

Pageflex announced Persona Cross Media Suite (CMS), a desktop tool for creating coordinated print and email campaigns and including variable length document capability, flexible layouts and the ability to compose multilingual text. Persona CMS also includes Pageflex Studio, enabling all of the design associated with a campaign to be done from within Persona CMS without the need to utilize Quark or InDesign. Pageflex earned a Must See ‘em at Print for its Persona Cross Media Suite, which sells for just under $5,000 and will be available in December. In other news, Pageflex announced a distribution partnership with Canon, who is interested in distributing Persona Cross Media Suite throughout its extensive dealer network to bring variable data to the market with a growth path to more sophisticated applications.

The company also announced integration of Pageflex Storefront with HP-Indigo presses via JDF for streamlined end-to-end production. Storefront is an online literature management and ordering solution with document customization capabilities. Also at the show, Pageflex announced the addition of list acquisition and data query capability to enable service providers to offer customers inline data specification for personalized print and email campaigns they are ordering through Pageflex Storefront. Storefront can also dynamically count the records as a personalized campaign is generated, generating instant pricing.

Pantone has released new guides that offer 20% more surface area of each color swatch and more space between swatches to make it easier to read the information beneath each swatch. Doris Brown, Vice President of Marketing for Pantone, also shared with me a relatively new product which she called the “unsung hero” of the company, Color Bridge . This guide is specifically designed to help print sales people to work more effectively with designers and customers, and to help designers to work with their customers as well, in better communicating color. It contains two swatches side by side, one which is the actual Pantone color, and one which is the CMYK match for that color. This allows easy visibility into colors that can—and cannot—be achieved through a CMYK match. For example, Pantone 1505, an orange which could be the Cingular corporate color, looks extremely different as a CMYK match. So in a case like this, it becomes very easy to explain to the customer why an annual report must be run with five—rather than four—colors. On the other hand, Pantone 275, a violet, appears to deliver an acceptable 4-color match. Pantone also introduced a brand-new hexachrome guide, produced with FM screening. Using this guide, it can be seen that Pantone 1505 can be closely matched with hexachrome printing, again making that color communication challenge easier to manage.

Pantone was also showing Version 2 of its Color Cue. This handy device can be used for both graphics and textile applications. Powered by a 9-volt battery, it is lightweight (about 9 ounces) and easy to carry. Brown demonstrated how Pantone swatch books and Color Cue work together, by scanning the fabric on her blouse with Color Cue, reading the output, and flipping immediately to the appropriate Pantone color in the swatch book—Color Cue not only provides the exact Pantone number designation of the color, but it also tells you what page that swatch is located on. This is a communication tool that has migrated itself outside of its intended environment, according to Brown, who indicates that building contractors have found it useful in interior design applications. With a USB port, Color Cue can also accommodate the download of paint, as well as ink, data. The device sells for $349. Brown says, “We recognize that there is a need for better tools and solutions for novices to identify and select color, so we as a company continue to invest in affordable, functional and easy to use technology that helps people identify, select and communicate. At the same time, we want people to visualize color properly, so we will continue to produce guides on paper and for the computer screen.”

Press-Sense Vice President of Sales Elly Perets believes that printers looking to improve their business have three options they can choose to deliver better operational and business results: Web-to-Print, variable data printing and implementation of a print MIS. And he also believes that the best solution is a tightly integrated combination of the three. Press-sense’s iWay Prime is a Web-to-Print solution, and the company has chosen to partner with companies like XMPie to achieve the variable data integration with iWay Prime. At Print 05, Press-Sense announced iWay Manager, an enhancement for the existing installed base of iWay Prime worldwide, that completes the triangle. For new customers, iWay Manager will be an integrated part of the iWay Prime solution. iWay Manager adds a customer service-oriented wrapper to iWay Prime with CRM capability at the front-end for order capture and management, plus MIS capability at the back-end for billing and fulfillment. The new, enhanced version of iWay Prime will sell in the $40,000 to $50,000 range, with the iWay Manager upgrade priced between $7,000 and $9,000 for existing customers. Plans are underway to launch iWay Enterprise , especially suited to multi-location operations, in the first quarter of 2006. This offering is designed to address the gap between the production environment and the business environment in the print production arena, helping print service providers to ensure that what is quoted and what is actually produced are as close as possible, eliminating costly mistakes that can destroy already slim margins. The company also announced an alliance with USADATA, Inc. that will provide access to consumer and business prospecting databases through its iWay Prime software.

The new integrated Presstek was at Print 05, showcasing its portfolio of digital products, technologies and services now available through its ABDick sales and distribution channel. The company had a number of announcements at the show, including:

  • The Presstek Vector TX52 with Freedom Chemistry-free plates, a chemistry-free platesetter that reflects a collaborative effort between Presstek, ABDick, Lasertel and Precision Lithograining, perhaps an indication of future offerings you might expect to see from the integrated company in the future.
  • Dimension Excel 2-up and 4-up CTP systems with Presstek chemistry-free Anthem and process-free Applause plates
  • The Kodak DirectPress 5634 DI, a Presstek-enabled direct imaging press now being sold by the ABDick channel.
  • A new version of the entry-level Momentum RIP based on the Harlequin 7.0 RIP from Global Graphics
  • The Presstek Facet RIP, co-developed with EFI and designed to support hybrid offset/digital workflows. The Facet RIP is the first of a suite of enterprise solutions the companies plan to deliver that is scaled for smaller quick, commercial and in-plant printers, and the franchise print market. The Facet RIP can also be integrated with EFI’s OneFlow workflow solution.
  • Aurora , an open systems chemistry-free plate designed to work with Screen PlateRite and Kodak (formerly Creo) Trendsetter thermal platesetters.
  • A strategic alliance with Screen, under which Presstek and Screen will cooperate in the placement of Screen PlateRite CTP systems with Presstek's chemistry-free Aurora thermal plates.
  • ABDick’s customer service capability augmented by Questra Smart Service which allows service professionals to remotely monitor the performance of equipment, and Presstek’s online store,

At its press conference, Presstek reported that the new products are being enthusiastically embraced by the ABDick sales force, resulting in a 35% increase in equipment sales revenue in the first 90 days following the release of Presstek products to the ABDick sales channel.

More Prepress and Business Solutions at Print

Watch for Part Three of this series tomorrow, and check out Part One, which ran September 21st, if you haven’t already done so.