Many sign shops implement complete workflow solutions complemented by design software. New features include the ability to serve a print shop from pre- to post-production by allowing them to mock up work on the fly and add trim lines and contour cut information directly before preflight. As turnarounds become quicker in the life of a print service provider, software providers from all backgrounds recognize the need for a tight, all-in-one solution.
We gathered information from leading vendors on recent product enhancements that simplify the workflow process for a designer based in a large format print shop.
Adobe Systems Incorporated’s Illustrator CS5 recently added the ability to create art in perspective. Designers are able to build their own perspective grids and then move objects onto them, or create new objects that automatically snap to the grid. This allows end users to mock up large scale print work and get a true idea of how it will appear in its final environment. The visualization of trade show displays, banners, building wraps, and retail are all a reality with this new feature.
CADlink Technology Corporation’s SignLab Version 9 is an all-inclusive design and RIP software package. The front end of the solution supports the design of bitmap and vector graphics and integration with the back end makes it compatible with a multitude of wide format printers. SignLab is ideal for the graphic arts because many of the features can be completed during or after the design stage—even close to pre-production. Key features include automatic or manual tiling of images, badge support for multiple copies of designs, automatic or manual nesting, and automatic cut lines with registration marks. The automatic cut marks are preferable for users working with a hybrid or a wide format roll-to-roll or flatbed printer. Adding the cut lines within one application simplifies workflow.
Corel Corporation’s CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X5 offers support for page sizes up to 150x150 feet and a new color management engine provides ideal color matching. Users can control color consistency across various media platforms and applications. Additionally, support for new Pantone color profiles is available. Corel PowerTRACE is a bitmap to vector tracing engine useful in wide and grand format design, which offers more precision and smoothness in tracing. Also, CorelDRAW allow users to reset resolution in raster objects designed for large format output where high resolution isn’t a necessity. The tool allows file sizes to stay at a minimum.
EskoArtwork offers software that manages design to print to cut. ArtiosCAD structural design software is targeted toward display and package applications. Tools in the program offer structural design, product development, virtual prototyping, and manufacturing. Over 25 templates are available for easy layout and can be resized. A new feature, Tab & Slot, helps users quickly assemble point of purchase (POP) displays. Using three-dimensional (3D) tools, angles and folds are quickly constructed with visual guides. EskoArtwork also offers the i-cut Suite, pre-production software that caters to preflighting PDFs, preparing graphics, creating layouts—all fixing improperly prepared files at any point in the workflow.
SA International, Inc.’s Flex 10 FAMILY of design products offer five solutions for a range of designing professionals—FlexiSIGN-PRO, FlexiEXPERT, FlexiSIGN, FlexiLETTER, and FlexiDESIGNER. FlexiSIGN-PRO, the company’s flagship product, offers a complete set of RIP, design, cut, and print tools for maximum productivity. A new feature in this updated version of the Flexi portfolio include contour cut nesting in Production Manager. This tool allows users to add jobs with multiple contour paths from third party applications to increase productivity and eliminate extra steps.
Quark Inc. released QuarkXPress 9 in April 2011. The newest version of the company’s desktop publishing software reaches out to multi-channel marketers looking to add eReader, tablet, and smartphone marketing to the print mix. The Blio eReader is a multi-platform application that presents eBooks to mirror printed versions. eBooks built with this tool can host interactive elements. Also, App Studio allows QuarkXPress designers to create content for Apple iPads.