Proceedings PaperColor imaging technologies in the prepress industry
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Over much of the last half century, electronic technologies have played an increasing role in the prepress production of film and plates prepared for printing presses. The last decade has seen an explosion of technologies capable of supplementing this production. The most outstanding technology infusing this growth has been the microcomputer, but other component technologies have also diversified the capacity for high-quality scanning of photographs. In addition, some fundamental software and affordable laser recorder technologies have provided new approaches to the merging of typographic and halftoned photographic data onto film. The next decade will evolve the methods and the technologies to achieve superior text and image communication on mass distribution media used in the printed page or instead of the printed page. This paper focuses on three domains of electronic prepress classified as the input, transformation and output phases of the production process. The evolution of the component technologies in each of these three phases is described. The unique attributes in each are defined and then follows a discussion of the pertinent technologies which overlap all three domains. Unique to input is sensor technology and analogue to digital conversion. Unique to the transformation phase is the display on monitor for soft proofing and interactive processing. The display requires special technologies for digital frame storage and high-speed, gamma-compensated, digital to analogue conversion. Unique to output is the need for halftoning and binary recording device linearization or calibration. Specialized direct digital color technologies now allow color quality proofing without the need for writing intermediate separation films, but ultimately these technologies will be supplanted by direct printing technologies. First. dry film processing, then direct plate writing, and finally direct application of ink or toner onto paper at the 20-30 thousand impressions per hour now achieved by offset printing. In summary, a review of technological evolution guides industry methodologies that will define a transformation of workflow in Graphic Arts during the next decade. Prepress production will integrate component technologies with microcomputers in order to optimize the production cycle from graphic design to printed piece. These changes will drastically alter the business structures and tools used to put type and photographs on paper in the volumes expected from printing presses.