PRINTWEEK PRODUCT OF THE WEEK - Simon Eccles
© Haymarket Business Publications
|For a repro house the delivery stage used to be the easy bit. You’d do all the scanning, page assembly, film output and - in the good old days - stripping. Then you’d make the proofs from the film, wait for approval and finally pack the films off to the printers. But now that so many printers are putting in CTP, they ask for files instead of film.|
|PageFusion runs on a Pentium III server optimised for fast input/output, disks and processing, which is part of the system price. It publishes itself on a network as a LaserWriter device accessible to Mats and PC. “Printing” from the application sends a PostScript file straight to the PageFusion input queue. Equally importantly, PageFusion can operate through hot folders, which accept high-res PostScript files from an OPI server.|
Ripping is handled by a Harlequin ScriptWorks RIP. PageFusion generates PDFs directly rather than using the Acrobat Distiller, which allows finer control. The older PDF 1.2 format is created, as opposed to the current PDF 1.3. Practically any imagesetter, platesetter or proofing RIP can handle PDF 1.2s although it means that spot colours can’t be handled. Support for PDF 1.3 - which can preserve spots - is confined to PostScript 3 RIPS.
PageFusion doesn’t treat CT and LW elements separately - all are output at 1,200dpi, which is adequate for magazine text. Angus says that a user-specifiable output resolution is being developed. You can set the downsampling resolution for the proof file between 100dpi and 600dpi - 150dpi is recommended.
Files can be finely tuned for compression quality. There’s an option to run them through both JPEG (lossy) and FLATE (lossless) compressions and to automatically choose one depending on a ratio of difference that the user sets in advance. FLATE will generally be smallest for the one-bit Tiff’s that copydot scanners produce. WorkFlow Solutions has greatly expanded the JPEG quality options to give 101 steps at the top end, where Acrobat Distiller only offers two - high and medium quality. A complex A4 demo file that started out at around 300Mb in PostScript was compressed to 9.25Mb for the output file and 2.25Mb for the proof.
Document information is saved in the PDF information layer. A file-naming convention gives name, type, compression ratio, customer contact name and the name of the creator. If the file is altered after leaving the repro house it shows up in the info layer.
PageFusion automatically applies its own cropmarks, registration marks and colour bars to the high-res files. The next version should be able to embed page crop boxes into the PDF, so the printer doesn’t need to do this manually before imposing the pages.
Another forthcoming feature is automatic printing of each job as it is created, to provide a hard copy record. A Plate-merge plug-in to integrate a choice of black separations (for different language versions) is also under preparation. Other future plans include a direct link to a third-party imposition package.
Workflow Solutions has installed five PageFusion servers in its first three months of shipping. One reseller for PageFusion has been appointed so far - Imaging Direct in Aston Clinton near Aylesbury (01296 630111). PageFusion is not a low-cost solution, and there are other ways of achieving the same thing, but so far we haven’t discovered one that offers the same combination of ripping, composite CMYK output and universally acceptable PDF 1.2 output. It’s fast, unobtrusively automatic and lets repro houses continue to offer relevant services in a film-free market. Digital film indeed.