Pre-flighting, workflow and RIPs

A raster image processor (RIP) processes information going through it in the form of a bitmap, which is sent to a printing device as a PostScript or PDF file. It converts images into halftone dots and drives the platesetters converting the on-off signals of the CTP.

A workflow, on the other hand, manages all aspects of production. Some incorporate pre-flight functions so that possible problems in a file can be identified, while others incorporate management information systems (MIS) for automated data transfer, reducing the risk of mistakes at every stage. 

Output once
“The big development is integration of the whole production workflow from estimation through to finishing,” says Stephen Fowler, technical specialist at Heidelberg. Demonstrated at drupa, this allows the integration of both digital and litho. It’s still the same workflow, but rather than choosing CTP, you output to a digital device.

Yet some workflows are so advanced these days that users are not familiar with all the functions. “If you’re doing similar work everyday, you forget a lot of applications in the system,” says Andy Walker, workflow solutions manager at Fuji. The company has a hotline service set up so if people come across a different element of the workflow needed, they can offer telephone and remote diagnostics.

“It’s like when you’re using a Microsoft Word document, you don’t know every control of Word. And apparently with Excel, we never use 90% of functions,” explains Walker.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” adds Heidelberg’s Fowler. “You want something that is simple to operate and automated, yet something that will be flexible for users.”

Software that is ‘future proof’ is vital when making an investment. “You want your workflow to be able to last 5-10 years and not have to change it every two to three years”, concludes Walker.

• Global Graphics’ Harlequin+ Server RIP, the first RIP capable of natively processing Microsoft’s XML Paper Specification (XPS) premiered at drupa
• EFI launched the latest version of its Fiery Central software at Drupa. The modular PDF-based workflow technology is aimed at enabling users to streamline production
• Compose System unveiled the latest version of its Express Workflow, and an update to its newspaper production workflow, Express NewsFlow, at Drupa
• Adobe intergrated Callas Software’s PDF pre-flight technology into the newly-launched Acrobat 9, extending its long-standing partnership with the German developer at the beginning of June
• Presstek announced at drupa it would be expanding its range of workflow solutions with Dynagram’s inpO2 imposition software, which boosts pre-press productivity by simplifying imposition layout creation. Customers can choose between the full inpO2 version or inpO2 ATOM, the entry-level edition

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