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Australian software awarded US technology prize

Thursday, 28 July 2005
By Print 21 Online Article
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Metrix is an automatic layout calculator for commercial printers, and developer LithoTechnics was one of the 17 recipients of the prestigious award. GSA distributes it in Australia and NZ.

LithoTechnics founder Rohan Holt said he is ecstatic to receive such international recognition for his company’s software. “We are very honoured to receive this prestigious award,” he says. “Our customers tell us they love Metrix, and I’m glad the judges also appreciate its value.”

(This is not the first time that Holt is in the news for creative inventiveness. In the 1990s he created SuperImpose/UpFront, which was acquired by ScenicSoft and subsequently by Creo. In earlier iterations of this report we said Rohan had created Pandora. This is plain wrong.)

PIA/GATF executive vice president George Ryan claims he was extremely impressed with the recipients of this year’s awards. “Vendors have responded to the industry’s emphasis on increasing throughput while improving productivity and providing tools for consistent colour reproduction,” he says.

“Binding and finishing productivity has improved, colour management tools are now very reliable, and press innovations are delivering on productivity we once thought was impossible,” says Ryan.

PIA/GATF is the world’s largest graphic arts trade association, and promotes the interests of more than 12,000 of its member companies in the US. The organisation’sorganization’s InterTech Awards are designed to recognise excellence in the development of new technologies in graphic communications.

The full 2005 InterTech Awards – courtesy of www.printondemand.comare:

Metrix v1.5
LithoTechnics Pty Limited –
www.lithotechnics.com

Metrix job layout software quickly calculates and creates the most efficient, cost-effective press sheet layouts, making it easy and fast for printers to capitalize on gang jobs, even those with varying run lengths. Estimators and production planners can try “what-if” scenarios in seconds. The program takes grain direction into consideration and also supplies folding data. Metrix can integrate with MIS systems by importing JDF (Job Definition Format) data and exporting JDF, CIP3, and Preps® template files. “Metrix has reduced our planning and layout time by 80–85%,” said one user. One judge commented, “When I was a CSR, I begged for this!”

Chameleon
Böttcher America Corporation –
www.bottcher.com

Using the Chameleon dual-purpose roller, printers can switch freely among conventional, UV, and hybrid printing jobs without changing rollers. Cutting-edge polymer technology gives the true rubber compound dynamic qualities that equal or surpass conventional compounds. The compound significantly reduces heat load in the roller train (especially important for UV inks) and helps reduce misting. The roller is OEM-approved by major press manufacturers. One printer said, “We have had these rollers running for five months, 24 hours a day, five days a week, without any problems.” Said one judge, “We want that roller on our press so we don’t have unused capacity.”

X-Rite Pulse ColorElite Systems
X-Rite – www.xrite.com

An exceptionally reasonable entry price brings the tools and software for color measurement and management to professionals, creatives, and even those doing their own home photo printing. Users can profile monitors, printers, scanners, and cameras, and they can edit the profiles to suit their needs. Setup involves connecting the colorimeter (monitor profiling puck) and the spectrophotometer (reflective media puck) with the supplied USB cables and installing the software. A professional photographer with 30 years’ experience most likes that “the profile building (which is wizard based) does not necessarily require a sophisticated understanding of color management to get great results.” The judges especially noted the technology’s upstream impact and its potential in soft proofing.

Stahlfolder TH/KH Series
Heidelberg Postpress Deutschland GmbH
Heidelberg USA Inc. –
www.heidelberg.com

The high-performance, modular TH/KH family of buckle-plate and combination folders focuses on productivity, maximum flexibility, and intelligent automation to keep today’s bindery up to today’s press output. Key features include modular units, a user friendly touch screen, a constant airstream to control sheets, side guides with digital readouts, a servo-motor sensor that adjusts roller settings using a single sheet of stock, the choice of a flat-pile, round-continuous, or pallet feeder, and more. A bookbinder said, “The simple setup and the fast speed of the KH folders have reduced our production time by 50%.” Emphasizing the folders’ user-friendly interface, the judges concurred that this technology is “a real productivity enhancement.”

PDF Compare and PDF Merge
Creo Inc. –
www.creo.com

These software plug-ins for the Creo Prinergy and Powerpack workflow systems manage the correction cycles in a prepress workflow efficiently, reliably, and cost-effectively. They ensure that the design master file and the production file do not fall out of sync. Compare analyzes two PDF files—as native PDF—and identifies the differences between them. Merge lets an operator extract all the prior work done on the plate-ready file (traps, screening, geometry, overprint, etc.) and merges all the elements into a new, revised production file. One user who says the plug-ins are easy to handle and stable also uses them for versioning. As a judge noted, “You’ll want to use this to sleuth for customers who try to slide in changes your production people don’t know about.”

Inline Coating for Digital Presses
NexPress Fifth Imaging Unit Solutions
Eastman Kodak Company –
www.nexpress.com
Xeikon Print Protector
Xeikon International/Punch Graphix –
www.xeikon.com

Long awaited by digital printers, inline coating to protect digitally printed pieces from damage in the mail stream is now available for the sheetfed NexPress and Xeikon’s rollfed digital presses. Besides gloss coating, Kodak’s NexPress Fifth Imaging Unit also gives digital printers the options of spot coating or adding a fifth dry ink color (red, green, or blue) to a CMYK-printed piece. The fifth ink extends the gamut and optimizes the NexPress for PANTONE® Color reproduction. Xeikon’s Print Protector technology uses a duplex aqueous coating system. The coating, a nonproprietary silicone-wax emulsion, is operator adjustable and so thin that it dries instantly. One Xeikon technology user said, “It eliminates any static from the digital prints so that they are easy to feed into any of my folding or stitching equipment.” “I’ve been waiting for digital inline coating for seven years,” said one judge.

Arrowlith UV
Flint Ink Corporation –
www.flintink.com

Specially formulated for coldset web presses equipped (or retrofitted) with a UV lamp on each side of the web delivery, Flint’s Arrowlith inks will enable coldset printers to enter the lucrative insert market. Coldset printers will be able to use their equipment to print full-color, high-volume coated inserts, Sunday sections, glossy book covers, and other special projects completely in house. The inks can print on coated, supercalendered, and newsprint substrates. Their tack range, similar to conventional news ink, allows the ink film to split effectively in the coldset roller train. A user said, “The ability to print UV in full web applications is a major breakthrough in the coldset industry.” A judge noted, “This technology will shift the insert market.”

SpeedyDry
Genesis, LLC – SpeedyDry –
www.speedydry.com

This ink additive helps conventional oil-based inks dry faster and with more rub resistance on any substrate, from matte stocks and coated papers to synthetics. SpeedyDry’s chemistry also makes it easy to solve age-old problems associated with using reflex blue, purple, and violet inks. With SpeedyDry, reflex blue can dry in six hours. A commercial printer that is using SpeedyDry on foils and styrene jobs said, “The product is easy to use; stays open in ink fountains, rollers, and blankets; washes up with ease; and gives a smooth, clean laydown of ink and dots.” One judge offered this insight: “Once you put it in your pressroom, you won’t be able to get it out of there.”

Goss Automatic Transfer Feature for Nonstop
Web Offset Printing
Goss International –
www.gossinternational.com

Using the Automatic Transfer (AT) feature for Goss’s Sunday presses, web printers can change jobs without stopping the press. Press operators bring one or more idle printing units on impression while simultaneously taking another unit, or units, off impression. The AT units, which do not use diverting rollers or air bars that could mark the web, can be positioned anywhere within a pressline and print on both sides. With two AT units, single-color changeovers can be completed on the fly. A press with eight AT units can handle complete four-color changeovers without stopping. Said one judge, “Web printers can now efficiently and cost-effectively compete in today’s shorter run and versioning markets.” One printer said, “We can slam imprint after imprint after imprint without shutting the press down.”

HumanEyes 3D Software
HumanEyes Technologies, Ltd. –
www.humaneyes.com

This patented software significantly eases a printer’s entry into an upcoming, profitable but previously specialized, expertise-essential 3D lenticular market. Using off-the-shelf digital cameras, printers, and presses, HumanEyes 3D Software creates stereo panoramic 3D pictures up to 360 degrees and special/lenticular effects (flip, morph, morph zoom, layered 3D). The HumanEyes 3D process has three simple steps: digital photography, processing by HumanEyes software, and printing using existing printing technologies. “We had no previous experience with 3D and were able to produce quality results in short order,” said one user. “The support is superb,” said a judge.

KBA Rapida 205 Sheetfed Offset Press
KBA North America, Inc. –
www.kba-usa.com

The Rapida 205’s high print quality and low makeready times take sheetfed press technology to an acme of productivity in a sheet size (59½ x 81 inches) that has never been printed before. Printers can replace two to four older presses with just one high-tech Rapida 205, and they can run paper and board stock ranging from 50 lb. to 64 pt. The press features a fully automatic plate changer, automatic blanket and impression cylinder washing systems, inline anilox coating, and drying options like IR, UV, or hybrid. As one user commented, “The press has differentiated us from our competitors by showcasing how we can handle this press’s unique extra large format abilities and provide customers with products they didn’t know they could afford.” “The technology, an engineering benchmark, is packaging friendly, but it gives offset printers a way to go after the large-format market,” observed a judge.

Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG) Color Flow Custom Tools
Kodak Polychrome Graphics –
www.kpgraphics.com

This modular color management system reliably automates color management operations from capture to output. Especially friendly to upstream creatives, the system uses a Photoshop plug-in as a profile editor. Users can edit profiles and then put them into wherever ICC profiles are stored in the production system. The primary component, the Color Fidelity Module, mathematically converts color from one space to another. Other components include ColorLock Calibration, Device Link Profiles, a Color Adjuster Utility, and Spot Color Tables. Said one 40-year veteran of the graphic arts, “Nothing we’ve ever used has been as steadfast with color as the Matchprint Professional Server [which uses the KPG Color Tools]….it’s a relationship building tool that opens the door to new ones.” According to one judge, “This technology eliminates the bottleneck of having only one person who can handle ICC profiles.”

MAN Roland TelePresence
MAN Roland Druckmaschinen AG –
www.manroland.com

This remote press diagnosis system enables MAN Roland’s Rapid Response Team experts to troubleshoot any press, monitor the press system’s vital signs in real time, and provide detailed error reports that map out the historical performance of the press. A feedback loop also looks at productivity as well as problems. Easily implemented, TelePresence uses a web camera and communication via standard Internet technology. The system is available on any MAN Roland 300, 500, 700, and 900 sheetfed press, and it can be retrofitted on any post-1995 MAN Roland press. “This is a true 24/7 service,” said one customer. “This technology puts the remote diagnostician right in the pressroom, shoulder to shoulder, with the press operator,” said a judge.

Maratek Environmental Inc.
The Solvent Saver—Solvent Recycling System
www.maratek.com

The Solvent Saver System distills waste blanket wash to produce solvent reusable back on the press. Solvent is purified using a multistage distillation process, automatically separating clean water and solvent. A blending system then combines the distilled solvent with water and additives. The blended product can be used instead of fresh chemistry, and the distilled water can be discharged to the drain or reused on press. One user reclaimed over 90% of waste sheetfed blanket wash solvent for reuse; another realized a 95% reduction in press wash waste-hauling volumes. As several judges observed, “The payback is here, and it really works as advertised.”

SigmaLine
Müller Martini Corp. –
www.mullermartini.com

This comprehensive series of trimming, collating, stitching, and perfect binding equipment can be used singly or combined to provide a commercial-quality, fully integrated system for on-demand finishing. Digital printers can create short-run printed products in a single operation with speed, ease, and economies of scale not previously achievable. Besides providing the highest degree of automation, the SigmaLine components required no time-consuming prepress, no manual makeready, and almost no labor. As one user reported, “We can now bind up to 1,000 variable-size books per hour.” “Besides closing the loop in the digital world, it’s a solution for competing with lower labor costs in any part of the world,” said a judge.

Pageflex, a Division of Bitstream Inc.
Pageflex Storefront –
www.pageflex.com

This easy-to-implement software package helps print service providers with limited Web development expertise to access the variable printing market by making it easy for them to set up an online literature management and ordering site with document customization capabilities. The turnkey, server-based product has two primary components: Storefront Administrator, a browser-based tool used to set up the site, and Pageflex Studio, a desktop application providing layout tools with variable data and customization abilities. “It took us just one day to get it up and running, and that was without training,” wrote one user. The judges described the system as “elegant,” “user friendly,” and “amazingly powerful.”

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