Teaching print buyers about the benefits of distribute-and-print workflows—rather than technology reliability issues—can be suppliers' biggest challenge.
If it's not the technology that's holding back distribute-and-print success, what is? This question was recently pondered by several technology and/or service providers who have developed some opinions and solutions of their own.
Educating the masses
"The idea of distribute-and-print is not dead," according to Vern Kellie, specialist, direct imaging, Heidelberg USA, Kennesaw, GA. For Kellie, the status of digital printing technologies is subject to a slow-starting demand. Perhaps this is due to a lack of education among print buyers, he suggests. In response to that concern, Heidelberg USA recently offered a seminar, with the Quickmaster DI at its heart.
"There are many sides to the distribute-and-print equation," Kellie claims. "There has to be a need, and there has to be a know-how."
The seminar was the product of an alliance among Heidelberg, Adobe (San Jose, CA), WAM!NET (Minneapolis) and CAPPS Studio (Chicago), the production facility for Leo Burnett, and was designed to show attendees that the technologies required for distribute-and-print workflows are really quite affordable.
For the study, CAPPS Studio and two of Heidelberg's facilities (in Atlanta and Mt. Prospect, IL) were connected via WAM!NET, which, Kellie points out, is a relatively inexpensive service. The partners worked with PDF files—and Adobe Acrobat is not a costly investment either, he adds. "Printing on our product—the Quickmaster DI—is probably in the $700 to $800 range for printing (in most cases)," Kellie notes. "So these are relatively small dollar items we're talking about."
At the seminar, a Kodak representative shot photographs of the audience to be incorporated in the document that would be printed before their eyes. Kellie explains the results: "Kodak shot the photos. We 'WAMed' them back to the production facilities at CAPPS Studio, where they were put into a Quark page. It was a 40MB file. The file was distilled, sent back to us and RIPed directly at the Quickmaster DI direct-imaging press, which has the ability to accept PDF files directly."