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Pre-Imaging and Imaging Processes

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We must distinguish between traditional pre-press technologies and the pre-imaging processes that are relevant in today’s graphic communications industry. Pre-press processes are different from the way we process images for electrophotographic imaging or imaging with an inkjet engine. We must also distinguish between preparing images for a lithographic press and a flexographic press. Electrophotography and inkjet are growing technologies used to produce customized — or individualized — communications materials. Lithography and flexography are used to manufacture mass-produced media products. These four imaging processes are the core imaging technologies that reproduce 90% of the images produced in the graphic communications industry. Many graphic designers are not aware of what must happen to the computer graphics they produce in order to ready them for manufacturing reproduction. Their experience is limited to hitting ‘command P’ and their computer graphic magically transforming from the illuminated masterpiece on their Apple Cinema Display, to the disappointing rendition that appears on the tray of their inkjet printer. Most of the pre-imaging processes are automated in software functions that are built into the print driver, so people are not aware of how a computer graphic must be prepared for an imaging device. This module will analyze six pre-imaging processes in detail, and describe how they are altered to prepare computer graphics differently for each of the four imaging technologies. The six pre-imaging processes are: • Raster image processing (RIP) technologies that are common to all four manufacturing processes • Colour management for repeatability, as a part of the RIP process • Trapping to lithographic and flexographic specifications • Transparency, which is a visual effect that has a great impact on imaging • Imposition for pre-RIP and post-RIP for media utilization • Preflight analysis and automation for computer file creation.