Laser imaging systems are becoming a key factor in the efforts of newspapers to further automate their pre-press production processes. Already there exists electronic cameras, platemakers, news-photo facsimile, full page facsimile, color separators and typesetters that use lasers as the exposure source. In general the main driving force for the use of laser exposure systems is their easy compatibility with digital systems. Other key factors in their initial success are labor savings, reduced consumables costs, improved quality and improved speed. For the future, laser imaging systems may prove to be the most suited technology to implement the truly "all electronically produced" newspaper.
The history of lasers in the newspaper business began in 1966 with some experiments by Dow Jones & Co. engineers and continues today with much of the potential still unfulfilled. The search for practical systems has included almost every type of laser, modulator and optical system to produce a printing plate as the end result. As in many new technologies, the pioneers have not been the most successful in the market place, but it has been an exciting time.
DREXONTM is the trademark of a recently announced direct-read-after-write (DRAW) laser-recording medium which requires less than one-half the laser power for recording than any DRAW material previously announced. This reflective, plastic/metallic composite records instantly without processing of any kind. Data also may be added at a later date. Since the recording process is thermal, any visible wavelength laser or near infrared semiconductor laser may be used for recording.
Automated printing of graphic and text information is evolving from the convergence of electronic digital processing capabilities of the computer and physical processing of images and materials handling from the graphic arts. The acronym CAMIS- Computer Assisted Makeup and Imaging Systems- is our name for these technologies. One result of such technological hybridization is the capability for 'print-on-demand' or alternatively 'demand-publishing'. As so often happens with the application of new technologies a blurring of technical definitions, organizational roles and relationships among producers and users is expected to create a host of policy issues for all stakeholders. This paper will briefly cover the evolution of the current 'printing-on-demand' - CAMIS technologies and will introduce the readers to an Exploratory Technology Assessment that is currently being conducted to anticipate the stakeholder issues.
The future of laser imaging for the graphic arts industry is inextricably tied to computer-related applications. The early work in the field was logically constrained by limitations in the technology. Lasers, for example, have only recently moved from the laboratory to the commercial and industrial environment. The use of lasers with graphics is a recent phenomenon derived from economic pressures which always, in a capitalistic society, lead to new and better ways of doing old jobs. Current applications of lasers in the graphic arts industry, although exciting, will soon be replaced by the marriage of computers which operate interactively and adaptively with the "laser and user" to result in "INTELLIGENT MAN-MACHINE INFORMATION SYSTEMS."
In June, 1978, KMI researched and wrote a market report on the use of lasers in reprographics and communications for IRD.* The findings reported here are based, in large measure, on that report. I will briefly discuss the types of lasers being used in repro-graphic systems and how this technology is changing. Then, I will summarize the markets for these lasers over a 5-year period,--1979-1983. All market estimates and projections are in 1978 dollars.
The printing industry is undergoing rapid change with the advent of new technology. The laser provides a tool with which direct exposure platemaking may become a reality. To achieve direct exposure of a complete page, lineart and halftone graphics must be recorded in addition to text. Much of the technology to achieve the desired result is available today, usually seen in other applications. All aspects of text processing, data base management and typesetting must be considered in the design of a laserdriven exposure device. There has been an evolution in both software systems and hardware elements that will eventually make the laser typesetter or platemaker a practical reality.
This paper describes the design and method of operation of an internal drum scanning system for transferring imagery from art work to a printing plate. Criteria for resolution, plate size, transfer rate, machine cycle time, and transmission efficiency are given. The major advantages of the internal drum scanning technique lie in simplicity of design and the flexibility to deal with a number of sizes of art and plate. Attendant to these design features are the prospects for low manufacturing cost. The potential for the use of such scanning systems for both input and output of automated photo composition systems is also discussed.
Lasers, electro-optics and microprocessor electronics have been integrated into a one-step rubber roller engraving process for the flexographic printing trade. For the first time, the high technology electronics of this machine makes several advanced functions available to the engraver. These new functions are two depth engraving, automatic jointing, and step-and-repeat. This machine is in successful operation in Europe with several new installations planned in the U.S. and Japan.
Acousto-optic laser deflectors with 24UU and 4UU0 spot resolution have been proven in several working systems built at Isomet. These deflectors, made of single crystal Te02, offer the advantage of no moving parts, no facet errors and no realignment because of bearing wear. The high resolution Te02 deflectors have been developed to the point where they can offer an attractive alternative to mechanical scanning; for very high resolution at high speeds (50 spots/µs), A-0 scanning is superior.
In contrast to other segments of the computer and peripheral equipment field in the last decade, the line printer has seen little real evolution. However, the recent introduction of high speed non-impact laser printers by IBM, Xerox and Siemens represents the beginning of a transformation in printer technology. These units use "laser xerography" to produce clearer output at rates an order of magnitude faster than conventional impact-type printers. Moreover, the technology is applicable over a wide range of speeds and resolution levels, creating some very exciting possibilities in the office of the future. Because of its freedom from fixed type, the laser printer will allow the extension of the word processing function into more general areas of information handling and office printing. In this paper we intend to aid in the development of systems for this application by explaining the components of the laser subsystem and the interrelationships among its various performance parameters.
The LogEscan system is a large format laser scanning unit which can be operated in a stand-alone or facsimile mode for the generation of Lasermasks and lithographic plates or proofs from original pasteup copy. The Lasermask can be used to prepare duplicate plates, using conventional techniques. In addition to Lasermask, several new materials are described which are a result of the increasing tempo of development activity in non-silver imaging.
Once portrayed as being stifled by old technology and union-spawned work rule constraints, The New York Times Company's current aggressive leadership has both automated and gained new labor freedom. Now a half-billion-dollar communications company, the NYTCo is forging ahead technologically as rapidly as possible to expand and improve its products and services while also reducing costs. Multiple LogEtronics "flatbed" laser scan/ record facsimile systems are used to provide significant advantages for meeting these objectives. Nine LogE units are employed to transmit full-page broadsheet newspaper images to the pressroom in the main office building six floors away while simultaneously broadcasting via a private Collins digital radio system six miles across the Hudson River and the Jersey Palisades to a satellite printing plant. Either right-reading offset or wrong-reading letterpress images are created in multiple-size formats on a specially-coated "lasermask." This inexpensive laser mask shields and forms immediately-usable letterpress or offset press plates during traditional multiple exposures to uv light. At the same time, the mask provides an immediate backup image for plate remakes, if needed, regardless of whether the original pasteup is intact or available. The mask also provides an archival image for subsequent high-quality microform exposure. For the six-mile communications link Collins Radio division of North American Rockwell provided The Times with the first digital microwave radio it has sold to a non-common carrier. It can provide up to seven T-2 links of 6.312 megabits each.
A line of large-format raster-type film recorders, utilizing Argon ion laser and rotating-drum techniques, is described. Image formats of up to 40" x 72" are available. The recorders are characterized by high absolute accuracy (down to 20 microns) high incre-mental accuracy (2.5 microns), continuously variable line-spacing and fairly high speed (up to 1 million points per second). Input is coded digital data from any source. Although developed for graphic arts applications, as part of a series of digital color image processing systems, these recorders can be readily adapted to other applications, including many that now use X-Y film plotters. One present version of the recorder enables exposing most common lithographic films with binary ("line") images as well as with half-tone images of any mesh number and angle. This version is already being applied to decorative printing preparation, to computer-aided cartography and to seismographic and remotely-sensed (aerial and satellite) data recording. Another version enables recording of variable-density (continuous-tone) films. Future plans include adaptation to the exposure of offset plates, further increase in accuracy and a five-fold increase in speed.
Electronic color scanners have found wide acceptance in graphic arts and related fields for recording of color separations. The accuracy and flexibility of electronic image processing exceeds photo optical methods. Size changes, color correction and masking functions are accomplished electronically. A recent addition (1974) to these functions is electronic dot generation by means of modulated laser beams. This provides the user with additional features, increased processing speed and hard dot generation independent of external parameters or material. This paper describes the basic configuration of the Chromagraph DC 300 and its electronic dot generation.
As direct digital printing becomes used throughout the graphic arts industry, a variety of digital light sources are being used to expose an even larger array of photo-sensitive materials. A significant trade-off exists between the operating costs of these newly applied sources and the purchase costs of special materials developed for these sources. Generally, UV lasers are expensive to operate and expose low-cost, nearly conventional materials. Visible lasers are much more economical to operate but may require higher cost materials, while Near IR lasers are being used with new materials. This manuscript provides some of the data required for these trade-offs.
This paper is an update of dry silver technology and how it relates to laser recording. It is a summary of sensitometric and processing data that describes how the products can be used and what sensitometric characteristics can be expected. The paper includes recent developments of the technology in respect to access time and stability of the materials. In addition, it explains the basic working mechanism of the process to enable the user to better utilize and understand it.
The low cost and reliability of low to medium power helium-neon laser recording systems, and the recent commercialization of non-conventional recording media suitable for these systems, make possible image quality and convenience unachievable a few years ago. These materials fall generally into two classes, dry process silver halide materials, and electrophotographic, both direct and transfer processes. In a practical system, cost, shelf life, processing transport range, photosensitivity, image permanence, and processing complexity are all factors which the design engineer must consider if the system is to realize commercial success.
The expanding use of laser scanning systems for graphics arts applications produces wide-spread requirements for laser compatible materials. The early development systems were dependent upon very unique photo-sensitive material systems. Another approach is to use the capabilities of UV and visible sensitive materials and modify or improve these to meet the requirements for laser imaging systems. Utilizing this approach tremendous progress has been obtained with several different types of UV plate systems and visible film systems. As a result of development efforts over the past few years, laser systems are presently exposing UV plates and visible film for use in newspaper production. This paper describes the experience and progress that has been made with the development of photo-sensitive materials for laser imaging.