The Total Package
Understanding digital workflow concepts, power and capabilities is essential for success for progressive package printers.
By Marie Ranoia Alonso
Digital prepress environments are fast moving into the realm of the package printer. This is not news. What is news is the robust capabilities of the growing field of digital workflow enablers, the emergence of PDF and PostScript 3 and their impact on the way digitally savvy package printers do businessnot to mention the digital workflow power, now more than ever before, of packaging's front end.
So much technology, in so little time.
Or is it?
For several years, packaging's graphically complex and deadline challenged prepress component has been taking small steps into the world of digital workflow. Automation was the key, with functions from checking and optimizing to interactive trapping to digital step-and-repeat capturing the attention of packaging's prepress managers. Today, technology providers the likes of BARCO Graphics, Professional Computer Corp. (PCC) and Agfa Div., Bayer Corp. compete for market share along with other automated workflow efforts from vendors including Heidelberg Prepress and Creo Products.
What does the market now hold? That question raises more inquiries, when the topic is digital workflow solutions.
How are digital workflow solutions allowing for all-digital prepress workflow virtually from creation to platemaking?
What new powerful editing and layout assembly tools are catching the attention of competitive package printers?
What sophisticated step-and-repeat functions are now commonplace in aggressive prepress environments?
How are comprehensive color management tools incorporated in digital workflow solutions?
What role is preflighting taking in the emergence of new digital workflow solutions?
What new steps are being made in local and remote digital color proofing, via complex digital workflows?
How are digital workflow tools enhancing productivity?
For the answers, an examination of current digital workflow products is in order.
BARCO Graphics offers the FastLane packaging prepress system for full, completely customized workflow automation. Components include PackLine and PS-Fix for interactive optimizing and assembly of incoming data, ColorTone for color processing, and trapping proof, a replacement of the print proof. QuickStep is BARCO's digital step-and-repeat tool. After FastLane, digital content is sent down the workflow route to an imagesetter or platesetter (such as BARCO's Cyrel Digital Imager), where direct digital output to film or offset plate takes place. BARCO's Kaleidoscope Plus color management and digital proofing completes the CTP framework.