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Getting it All at Graph Expo

From workflow and wide format, to finishing and fulfillment.

The graphic-arts market blew into the Windy City in mid-September, taking the town by storm. The four-day Graph Expo, held at McCormick Place, brought in more than 20,000 attendees (and nearly 32,000 total participants in all, counting exhibitors and others), a 3% increase in attendance over last year’s show according to the Graphic Arts Show Company, which manages Graph Expo.

From a technology standpoint, the event was able to present a comprehensive exhibition of technologies and run live applications for wide-format printing, digital prepublishing, prepress, digital and offset printing, plus mailing, fulfillment, bindery, and other functions. The show also boasted more than 650 exhibitors-"the largest US national graphic-communications trade show since 2000 and the second biggest Graph Expo ever," say show officials-as well as a 70-session education program that drew the largest education registration also since 2000.

If you missed this year’s event, we highlight details on some of the products and technologies here. The 2008 version of Graph Expo (www.gasc.org) will be held October 26-29 in Chicago at McCormick Place.

Oce (www.oceusa.com) announced its new entry-level CS9060 printer-an addition to the company’s CS9000 series. Unlike its 90-in. CS9090 and 65-in. CS9065 cousins which utilize either Oce’s eco-solvent or low-solvent inks, the 64-in. CS9060 is compatible only with eco-solvent inks. These inks don’t require an additional air purification or ventilation system-which means this printer can be installed in offices or small print shops.

Producing both indoor- and outdoor-durable prints, its 4-color eco-solvent inks (in 220-ml cartridges) offer a 3-yr outdoor durability. The 360-nozzles/color printhead uses Oce CS9000 VariaDot Imaging Technology and features 3.5- to 21-pl ink drops. The printer also images in waves instead of straight strips, which helps reduce banding and increases print quality, the company reports.

Based on the Mutoh ValueJet 1604, the Oce CS9060 features resolutions up to 1440 dpi and can produce graphics up to 166.8 sq ft/hr in Production Plus mode (720 x 720 dpi) and up to 22.6 sq ft/hr in Max Quality mode (1400 x 1440 dpi).

Other features include an automated self-maintenance system. The machine ships with take-up rollers that will hold 66-lb rolls; optional is the winder/unwinder system for rolls up to 220 lb. A RIP is optional; customers can choose from Onyx PosterShop or ProductionHouse. Price: $21,995.

In addition, Oce announced its Streamlined Workflow System to speed a print from prepress to finishing. The system comprises a Zund digital cutting table with toolheads (standard tool set includes drag knife, oscillating knife, router, and kiss-cutting tool; specialty tools such as rotary textile knife, creasing tool, and V-cutting tool are optional); Touch&Cut Vision Registration Front-End software with Zund camera to automate cutting; Prepare-it software to prepare jobs for cutting; and technical support. The system is compatible with all wide-format printing systems. The workflow system can be used to optimize basic trimming tasks for rigid substrates such as hard and soft foamboard, plastic material, acrylic and styrene, and flexible media including paper, film, vinyl and fabric; it can also be used to finish more complex jobs such as contour-cut point-of-purchase displays, production-quantity decals, and structural projects.

Xerox (www.xerox.com) previewed its new 8265 and 8290 wide-format printers. Available for the past year in Europe (and given a "sneak peek" at the OnDemand Expo earlier this year), these eco-solvent printers are designed to produce indoor-quality graphics with the durability of outdoor applications. The 65-in. Xerox 8265 and the 90-in. Xerox 8290 feature drop-on-demand piezoelectric printheads with 360 nozzles per ink channel. The heads deliver variable dot sizes (ranging from 5.4 to 41.5 pl) for sharp images and smooth color transitions. The printers are also equipped with Image Interweave technology to reduce banding, enable higher speeds, and reduce ink usage.

The 8265/8290 machines offer several print modes: High Speed (360 x 360 dpi), Production (720 x 720 dpi), and High Quality (1440 x 1440 dpi), as well as CMYKx2 or CMYKcm ink configurations. With a top speed of 452 sq ft/hr in 360 x 360-dpi mode with CMYKx2 inks, these printers produce up to 124 sq ft/hr in Production (360 x 720 dpi) mode with the CMYKcm configuration and up to 245 sq ft/hr for the CMYKx2 inkset.

Xerox reports that the eco-solvent inks used by the 8265 and the 8290 produce a greater color gamut than traditional solvent inks, while not requiring addition ventilation or air purification units. The inks are also water-proof, offer high abrasion resistance, and are UV-stable.

Offering indoor-quality graphics with a 3-yr outdoor durability, these rollfed machines support media including glossy papers, vinyls, cast PVC, scrim banners, Tyvek, and self-adhesive eco film (polyolefin-based). And the range of applications include P-O-P displays, banners, signs, exhibition graphics, long-term backlits, vehicle graphics, street furniture, wall murals, stage graphics, flags, and corporate graphics.

Included with the printers: an SAi RIP and a media take-up system for unattended printing. The 8265 and 8290 are scheduled to begin shipping in Q4 2007.

X-Rite (www.x-rite.com) launched its i1iSis Power Bundle, which includes an i1iSis XL automated chart reader plus the company’s i1Pro and professional color-management Software. The iSis provides high-speed, easy-to-use chart reading for printer profiling, while the i1Pro allows users to profile scanners, cameras, and displays. Designed for users in prepress, digital printing, and wide-format printing, the Power Bundle marks the first time the company has combined the two tools into a single package. A choice of either ProfileMaker 5 Publish Plus or Monaco-Profiler Platinum provides professional software for creating profiles, customizing profile charts, editing profiles, and managing color measurements.

The company also introduced enhancements to its SpectroEye color-measurement tool: The new SpectroEye SA (small aperture) has an aperture of 3.2 mm, and is used to measure smaller patches, down to 3.5 mm. It, as well as the standard 4.5-mm model, is now available in an entry-level SpectroEye LT version, which can be upgraded.

Agfa Graphics (www.agfa.com) announced a new version of ColorTune 5.0, the company’s color-management software. The software now features tools for profile management, target measurement, definition of spot colors, and soft-proof control on Mac and PC displays. It can now generate and measure printed color-characterization targets with the most commonly used spectrophotometers, and calibrate LCD displays for accurate and consistent viewing of colors on screen, the company reports.

ColorTune 5.0 comprises four separate parts: ColorTune Output 5.0, which creates ICC profiles for industrial inkjet printers and proofing devices as well as commercial sheet-fed and newspaper web presses; ColorTune Measure 5.0, which generates and measures printed color characterization targets with commonly used spectrophotometers; ColorTune Spot 5.0, which creates named color profiles for special colors (typically spot colors) from which spot-color libraries can be exported to design applications such as Illustrator and InDesign; and ColorTune Display 5.0, which calibrates and characterizes the LCD for consistent viewing of colors on screen. The last includes: ColorTune Display Helper, which monitors the active display profile and passes the information to company’s ApogeeX or Delano so that a controlled, accurate softproofing workflow is created.

In addition, Agfa announced:

* A new version, 4.0, of its ApogeeX workflow solution, which has been updated with several advancements, including the inclusion of Adobe’s PDF Print Engine, a new Digital QuickStrip (DQS) that allows the rendering of pages separately, and a new Software Update Manager (SUM) for quick and easy automatic upgrades and troubleshooting. The inclusion of Adobe’s PDF Print Engine, Agfa reports, allows users to do scalable native PDF rendering, thereby reducing the need for reworks and enhancing performance.

* The latest version of its Delano project-management system, Delano 3.0, now provides more functionality for prepress and print, including easier uploading of content, automatic conversion of spreads and spot colors, and integrated soft proofing (which saves client monitor conditions along with approvals and annotations).

* Secuseal 1.0, a new security solution for users who want to offer their customers advanced protection from piracy and unlawful duplication of designs on packaging, labels, and other printed materials. Applicable with all standard design workflows, Secuseal works with a set of plug-ins on Adobe Illustrator to create complex backgrounds or convert images into complex linework patterns. The four modules in the plug-in set allow specific security measures to be implemented directly on a printed design. With Secuseal, anti-counterfeiting measures of printed images will be easier to initiate and be more reliable, and imitations will be more easily recognizable, Agfa reports. The security level of an individual project can be determined by the designer, and the plug-ins are password-protected.

Gandinnovations (www.gandinnovations.com) introduced its Jeti 3148 X-2 UV True Flatbed featuring 48 Spectra printheads. The 48-head design, the company reports, gives shops more production options while providing high-throughput speeds. The printer is designed to print on rigid materials such as foam boards, corrugated boards, plastics, and sheet metal, as well as vinyl, canvas and fabric.

A 6-color (CMYKcm) printer, the Jeti 3148 X-2 features a 5 x 10-ft print area. Users can switch to white and clear varnish options for a CMYK+WV inkset as well. The printer offers resolutions from 300 x 600 to 600 x 1200 dpi. In best-quality mode, the Jeti 3148 X-2 prints at 1200 dpi with a print speed of 900 sq ft/hr; maximum print speed is 1500 sq ft/hr.

The 3148 X-2 also features a three-zone vacuum-controlled system designed to eliminate masking and hold media in place. The flatbed table also utilizes linear motion to ensure accurate registration on both rigid and flexible materials. The Jeti can handle roll media up to 120 x 60 in. and rigid media up to 2-in. thick.

The printer features a user interface with a 15-in. LCD flat-panel display. Users have a choice of an Onyx, Shiraz, or Wasatch RIP upon purchase. Safety shielding is an option.

Kodak (www.graphics.kodak.com) premiered its Smart Review System, designed to intelligently stream data and produce highly accurate previews, while allowing monitor proofing, imaging, and collaboration in an integrated fashion through third-party applications and workflows. The Smart Review System comprises server-based software for imaging and file management and the Kodak Smart Review Proofing Client. A flexible applications-programming interface allows it to be integrated into a variety of solutions with a comprehensive set of function calls. Solutions that incorporate the Smart Review System enable users to follow projects throughout the entire approval process, tracking changes, comments, and events, making project turnaround times quicker and more efficient.

The Smart Review System works by streaming from a server to the user’s monitor, sending only the data required to view the requested region of the image at a given zoom level. This allows even very large files to be proofed and reviewed quickly and easily over standard Internet connections without the need to transfer the entire file, Kodak reports. Included with the system: an easy-to-use navigation window, densitometer and measurement tools, on-the-fly panning and zooming, image rotation, and approval. It can be used with a variety of graphics-arts file formats. Kodak MatchPrint Virtual Technology is available as an option to the system, allowing images to be proofed and displayed with accurate color on qualified monitors.

In other Kodak news, the company:

* Enhanced its Kodak MatchPrint Inkjet Proofing solution to now offer support for the recently introduced Epson Stylus Pro series of printers in 2-up, 4-up, and 8-up formats, including Epson UltraChrome K3 inks with Vivid Magenta technology.

* Released an updated version of Kodak Proofing Software, which now supports all of Kodak’s hard-copy proofing systems: the Kodak Approval Digital Color Imaging System, the Kodak Veris Digital Proofer, and the MatchPrint Inkjet Proofing Solution.

* Launched new MatchPrint Inkjet Proofing Media products designed specifically to support emerging US specifications from IdeaAlliance as well as standard European specifications: Kodak MatchPrint Pro Coated SM240P Media, Type 1 (meets GRACoL coated type 1 and FOGRA39 specifications) and Kodak MatchPrint Pro Coated SM240P Media, Type 3 (meets SWOP coated type 3 specifications). The media is compatible with all current MatchPrint inkjet printers, including new Epson models.

* Introduced Kodak Cutting and Creasing Tables, designed to allow companies "to achieve new levels of predictability of the final printed piece" with packaging mockups and comps. Available in two sizes-A2 Format at 25.6 x 17.72 in. and A1 Format at 33.45 x 25.6 in.-the tables can handle a full range of packaging substrates including folding carton, corrugated, and flexible materials. When used in conjunction with its Approval Digital Color Imaging System, reports Kodak, the tables help operators produce comps with accurately matched spot color. The tables feature tangential knives, two- or three- point creasing wheels, a vacuum hold-down feature, and EngView package designer software with CAM module. Kodak reports that the tables can produce a scored, cut carton in approximately 60 sec.

* Has made available its Darwin VI Authoring Tool for Adobe InDesign CS3. Darwin VI features several new variable-data-print capabilities, including personalized URL (PURLs) creation (designed in conjunction with MindFire and EasyPurl), support for Photoshop actions to create graphically rich images for high-impact VDP jobs, new style and lookup rules, and more.

Canon (www.usa.canon.com) introduced two S-series models of its imageProGraf printers at Graph Expo-the iPF9000S and the iPF8000S. Designed for high-volume production environments, the S-series models offer a 40% increase in speed over the existing iPF9000 and iPF8000.

The 60-in. iPF9000S offers a high throughput speed up to 403 sq ft/hr while the 44-in. iPF8000S features a top speed of 350 sq ft/hr. Armed with a maximum resolution of 2400 x 1200 dpi, both printers also feature a new Economy print mode, which produces 1200 x 1200-dpi output at 211 sq ft/hr on coated and uncoated media while it regulates the use of photo cyan and photo magenta to reduce ink consumption by 10% to 20%, Canon reports.

The printers use a dual printhead system and feature a total of 30,720 nozzles producing 4-pl ink drops. With an 8-color Lucia pigment ink set (CYMK, photo C, photo M, matte K, and gray), the printers are able to employ up to 5120 nozzles per color. In addition, the nozzles are arranged so that the ink droplets for cyan, photo cyan, and photo magenta will be fired in the same sequence in both forward and reverse passes reducing subtle color variations and allowing for faster printing with fewer passes and more even color.

Both printers accept media up to 0.8 mm-thick and utilize a media-skew correction feature to detect and correct improper paper alignment. Additionally, the printers boast an 80-GB hard drive, which allows additional jobs to be queued without burdening networked computer systems.

The S-series printers incorporate features utilized by imageProGraf graphic-art printers, including Canon’s L-COA processor, Kyuanos color-management technology, built-in color calibration for color stability, automatic clogged-nozzle detection, the ability to replace empty ink tanks on-the-fly (700- and 330-ml selectable ink capacities), and a large backlit LCD panel.

Software included with both models: Printer Driver 2007, Digital Photo Front-Access, Print Plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Print Plug-in for Digital Photo Professional, and Printer Driver Extra Kit. Canon’s new PosterArtist 2007 is optional.

Price on the Canon printers: iPF9000S, $14,995; iPF8000S, $5995.

GMG (www.gmgcolor.com) launched version 4.5 of its color-management and proofing systems: GMG ColorProof, GMG ColorServer, and GMG InkOptimizer. All GMG solutions now feature new profile and driver updates, as well as stronger image sharpening, working with more inkjet printing systems, and providing easier hot-folder use. They also deliver multi-core processor support and can operate on the Windows Vista operating system.

The new version of GMG ColorProof, the company’s color-management proofing software, focuses on new drivers and spot-color support. New features include: calibrated spot colors; support of new HKS and Pantone Goe spot-color sets for Epson and HP Z printers; sharpening for proofing profiles; support for new printers, including the 64-in. Epson 11880.

New features in GMG’s ColorServer 4.5, a tool for automatic color conversions, focus on improved profiles and include: new additional profile rules for PDF-to-PDF (allowing ColorServer to convert PDF files with multiple embedded profiles to the corresponding profiles, in one hot folder); extended profile rules for color and file conversion hot folders; extended 3-D sharpening for PDF files, independent from scaling; the ability to generate a GMG preview ICC profile for separation profiles as well as a GMG CMYK simulated ICC profile for GMG separation, conversion, and proofing profiles.

For InkOptimizer 4.5, designed to automatically reduce chromatic colors, new features include: new additional profile rules for PDF-to-PDF; extended profile rules for file conversion hot folders; and extended 3-D sharpening for PDF files.

EFI (www.efi.com) previewed a new version of its PrinterSite Fulfillment solution, the Web-based storefront for fulfillment ordering. The upcoming release is designed to provide more visually appealing Web sites for ordering pull-from-inventory, print-on-demand, and VDP items, as well as non-print items; it adds new "merchandising features" such as rotating banner ads and category graphics, plus features such as real-time shipping and taxes, and new payment methods such as "spending accounts," gift cards, and coupons.

Specific new features include: New XMPie features that allow users to manipulate their databases through the Web interface; a new "image picker," which lets users compose sophisticated VDP items in the Web interface, using a library of pre-stored images and graphics; and a new "product matrix" functionality that allows items like apparel and logo merchandise to be seamlessly marketed on the site, just like on business-to-consumer sites.

The new PrinterSite Fulfillment solution integrates into the company’s Hagen, Logic, and PSI print-management systems. The integration with EFI’s management systems enable both clients and staff to accurately track quantities and order status in real-time

EFI also reported that it now supports Pantone’s new Goe System across its product line.

Quark (www.quark.com) announced that its Quark Print Collection now supports QuarkXPress 7 as well as Adobe Acrobat 8. A comprehensive and standalone set of prepress and imposition tools, the Quark Print Collection offers output providers and publishers advanced features that enable the quick, simple, and accurate imposition of native QuarkXPress layouts or PDF files.

Quark Print Collection features include: Quark Imposer for QuarkXPress and Adobe Acrobat, which offers users choices for file, application, sheet, imposition, and binding types (it also provides for automatic pagination, preview options, and tiling); Quark Markit for QuarkXPress 7, which allows for custom registration styles, press-mark, control, and job information; and Quark Item Marks for Quark-XPress 7, which enables registration and crop marks, placement control, automatic guides, and layer control. Price: $299.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the show floor:

* Xaar (www.xaar.co.uk) showcased its Xaar 1001 variable-drop printhead. Designed for high-speed, single-pass applications, the 1001 is based on the company’s Hybrid Side-Shooter platform with TF technology. Features include high precision, a choice of selectable or variable-drop sizes, self priming and self cleaning, and high repeatability, reports Xaar.

* Global Graphics (www.globalgraphics.com) introduced its Harlequin+ Server RIP. The new RIP can process PDF and PostScript files natively, and also natively process files in the new XPS print format (XML Paper Specification) available with Windows Vista. The RIP also introduces support for PDF 1.7, the soon to be published PDF/X-4 specification, JDF 1.3, and HD Photo/JPEG XR format, a new file format for continuous-tone still images. In addition, Global Graphics has published an updated version of its "XPS FAQ," which discusses XPS adoption in the graphic-arts market and its initial impact; the FAQ is available on the company’s website.

* HumanEyes Technologies (www.humaneyes.com) announced that it has certified the Fujifilm Acuity HD 2504 flatbed UV printer for the production of lenticular and LensFree prints using HumanEyes’ lenticular software solution.

* GBC (www.gbc.com) introduced its 6028os and 730os single-sided laminators. The 6028os is designed to finish packaging, book covers, dust jackets, etc., on sheet sizes up to 20 x 28 in. (w x l); it runs OPP, PET and nylon films on rolls up to 6000 ft in length and feature a maximum speed of 65 ft/min. The 730os, designed for packaging, book covers and other single-sided applications up to 20 x 40 in. (w x l), can hit a speed of up to 50 ft/min, and can run high-speed thermal OPP, PET, and nylon films on rolls up to 6000 ft.

* EskoArtwork (www.eskoartwork.com), the company formed when Esko merged with Artwork Systems earlier this year, showcased updates to four of its workflow solutions: Nexus 8.6, for the commercial, label, and packaging environments; Odystar 3.0, a native PDF 1.7 workflow that provides a wide range of automatic prepress production tools; Neo 1.2, a PDF 1.6 viewer and editor for reworking text and object content in PDFs; and WebWay 5.0, designed to provide secure Internet-based communication between print buyer and print producer.

* Prepress Training Solution (www.prepresstraining.com) added an Adobe Illustrator CS3 online training course to its interactive library of tutorials. The new course provides users with information on utilizing Illustrator CS3 in a prepress and graphics workflow. Price: $79.

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