PDF/X technology was introduced in the mid 90's with the intentions of improving and automating the prepress workflows. Standards committees such as CGATS (Committee for Graphic Arts Technical Standards) and DDAP (Digital Distribution of Advertisers for Publications) started to draft and implement a plan of action to succeed the current file formats being used in premedia workflows. Previous file submissions that were handed off from advertising and design agencies became too time-consuming to prepare them for the final run. Top-tier printing and publishing companies such as RR Donnelley, Quad Graphics, Vertis, and Time Inc, started to invest in new technology integration in order to improve efficiency and automate the production workflow for publications and advertisements. Recently, the committees have finished and received approval on 2/3rds of the intended outline for ISO 15930: 2003 Standards for Graphic Technology - - Prepress digital data exchange - - for the use of PDF.1 PDF/X-1a and X-3 have been approved as standards and solutions for the publication and commercial printing markets. PDF/X-2 is still in the process of finalization, but will be beneficial mostly to catalog and commercial printing. The goal of these standards is to provide an efficient vehicle for exchanging raster and vector data for print production within the graphic arts industry. The intent was for the sender and the receiver of PDF/X files to use applications that have the same level of compliance. Therefore, digital data workflows could be processed seamlessly between these channels of communication without any surprises. This would change premedia operations and bridge the communication gap between the customer (agency, designer) and the service provider (prepress, publisher), eliminating any variables or errors. This new workflow is still a mystery to many. Only the larger companies that have already invested in this new technology are truly knowledgeable about it. With this transition taking place, a greater percentage medium-sized plant in the $2 million to 5 million-range plan to start investing in Portable Document Format (PDF) workflow solutions than other size-shops.2 The purpose of this thesis is measure the current PostScript workflow that the majority of premedia industry currently uses versus the new PDF/X workflow solution created to reduce the steps in current premedia operation. Most importantly, this will result in a new model based on PDF/X technology for mid-sized companies to invest in, that promises a high return-on-investment. Premedia operations are usually responsible for 20-25% of the overall selling costs according to 2002 PIA Ratios. Due to the variety of difficulties encountered in current premedia workflows, this model will be developed to decrease production time and costs. Within the first half of the study, data will be collected through measurement and visual assessment to evaluate the performance and functionality of both premedia operations. In the other half of this study, subjective testing will address the issues of raster image processing time and a reduction of storage requirements.
Print Media (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Media Sciences (CIAS)
Doyle, Nicholas E., "An investigation into the effectiveness of PDF/X premedia workflows" (2003). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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