Workflow tool helps printers provide automated, fault-free versioning services

Esko-Graphics, August 6, 2003

Gent, Belgium – Esko-Graphics is proudly announcing that its FastVariants suite of workflow tools has been awarded a 2003 Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF) InterTech™ Technology Award, recognized industry-wide as a symbol of technological innovation and excellence.

One of the trends of this year’s awards winners was the presence of automation combined with productivity and ROI. FastVariants is an automated workflow solution that fits that description well. It offers a suite of tools and technologies used within Esko-Graphics’ FastLane Next Generation workflow system to avoid costly mistakes in the production of double-burn jobs, for which one of the plates, typically the black plate, is replaced with another one with a different version during a press run.

FastVariant prevents press downtime and plate remakes in double-burn workflows. Regardless of how a job is supplied, either as neutral pages with separate version pages or as full-color version pages, FastVariants correctly detects specific problems that make a file unsuitable for double-burn. Full-color version pages can be quickly and easily split into a neutral ‘full-purpose’ part and a version part. Operators can also check full-color version pages against a reference version to detect problems when changing the version plate. All these tools run in batch mode so large amounts of pages can be efficiently handled with little operator intervention.

FastVariants makes use of three innovative technologies:

  • The new technology runs in batch mode and is integrated with interactive tools.
  • The splitter uses a novel approach to the way in which files are separated correctly without RIPping them. Its very fast one-pass algorithm turns a page into a neutral page or into a variant page by intelligently modifying the paint modes in the file. A page that has been split into neutral and variant parts can be recombined on top of each other when imposed, and provide the same result as the original page, regardless of the order and location of the variant objects in the original.
  • When a version page is compared to a reference page, the batch process renders separations and then compares pixels from both pages. This method accurately detects any difference between the two.

Several judges noted that an increasing number of InterTech nominees were seeking creative ways to bring new, sophisticated technologies — and therefore new services and revenue streams — within the reach of small and medium-size printers.

FastVariants contains everything needed to produce versioned print jobs in less time and with total security, which translates to less man-hours for error-prone quality checks, less proofs, less plate remakes and less press downtime. In about 15% of versioning jobs there are mistakes that, when passed unnoticed, make it necessary to stop the print run, correct the mistake, make new plates, and start the print run again. It can take several hours before a double-burn mistake that is caught in the pressroom is corrected. It is imperative to check every job; a time-consuming operation because it usually involves visually checking proofs. FastVariants provides everything a printer needs to turn around a versioned print job in less time and with total security, which translates to less manhours for error-prone quality checks, less proofs, less plate remakes and less press downtime.

As a GATF judge observed, “This application enables relatively modest printers to offer versioning services by using automated software rather than paying for custom programming.”

Esko-Graphics will receive its InterTech star at an Industry Awards Dinner on Saturday, November 15, 2003, at the La Mansión del Rio Hotel, San Antonio, Texas.

About the InterTech Technology Award

GATF sponsors the award and coordinates the award process, but does not select the recipients. InterTech Technology Award recipients are chosen by an anonymous judging committee comprised of industry experts and users who are independent of GATF.

Companies are not required to be GATF/PIA members to submit technologies for judging. The InterTech Technology Awards will be presented at the Industry Awards Reception and Dinner, Saturday, November 15, 2003, at the La Mansión del Rio Hotel, San Antonio, Texas.

A booklet showcasing all of the current year’s nominated technologies will be available at Graph Expo, which is being held September 28 through October 1, 2003, in Chicago. #