Apple is holding its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco this week. While the majority of CEO Tim Cook's keynote presentation focused on developments on the company's mobile platform, Apple announced two new products of note for the graphic arts professional.

The Cupertino-based company has added its high density Retina Display technology to its 15-inch Macbook Pro, which will retail at $2,229 and up. The 2,880 x 1,800 display doubles the previous Macbook Pro's display density, bringing it to 220 pixels per inch. The processor has also been updated to Intel's new Ivy Bridge architecture and the entire device has slimmed to just 0.71-inches thick, primarily achieved through the removal of the optical disk drive. The previously offered 17-inch Macbook Pro has been discontinued. Non-Retina Display Macbook Pros will also be refreshed to include faster processors, but will not have a slimmer profile.

The Mac Pro has also been updated, though not part of the WWDC activities. Apple's professional-grade computer had not been updated since 2010. Gaining a processor upgrade only, the new Mac Pro has already been panned by critics for its lack of innovation. The latest ports present on Macbook, iMac, and Mac Mini devices, such as Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 ports, are not present and the video card offered dates back to 2009. A 3.2Ghz Quad-Core Intel Xeon Mac Pro starts at $2,549 with the 12-Core version starting at $3,849.

EFI yesterday launched version 5.3 of its Fiery Command WorkStation software for print-job management, which can be downloaded for free from its Website.

“Fiery Command WorkStation is the recognized industry standard for production printing job management technology, serving as the window into the entire printing workflow,” said John Henze, VP of Fiery Marketing at EFI. “Known for its intuitive interface… It enables seasoned pros to more quickly produce even higher quality output, while making it easy for less experienced users to produce professional-looking documents in just a few clicks.”

According to EFI, the Fiery Image Enhance Visual Editor (IEVE) is an industry-first feature, available in this latest version of Command WorkStation, for optimizing image appearance and applying per-image corrections. IEVE allows for editing of each image in a job without going back to the native design file.

This tool set allows users to adjust brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows, colour balance, and sharpness, as well as the ability to make red-eye corrections on any image within a job. Users can also save preferred settings as presets to apply to other images or other jobs on the Fiery.

Version 5.3 of Command WorkStation also includes imposition workflow improvements, such as user-defined finish size tools found in Fiery SeeQuence Impose (an add-on module) that honours a designer’s intent by automatically detecting the trim box and bleed box defined in the source document.

According to EFI, another key addition in Command WorkStation is integration with the EFI Color Profiler Suite, which allows users to diagnose profile problems, compare colour gamut, and create and edit profiles.

Agfa Graphics has introduced two new 8-up thermal platesetters, the :Avalon N8-60 and the :Avalon N8-80. The two models also come in different speed versions.

According to Agfa, the 8-up option leads to improved reliability and stable plate imaging. The company has also redesigned its single and multi-cassette autoloaders to allow reloading during exposure. Another new feature is a standby mode which saves 85 percent on power consumption.

"When you combine the new :Avalon engines with our ThermoFuse plates, chemistry-free :Azura TS or :Amigo TS, you get unparalleled productivity and quality" said Eddy de Dobbeleer, Marketing output systems at Agfa Graphics. "The new engine in combination with Agfa Graphics' :Apogee workflow and the :Sublima cross-modulated (XM) screening outperforms any other solution in the market on speed, ease of use and process stability."

Belgium-based EskoArtwork has announced it will be releasing a new version of its HD Flexo plate making system to 2.0. A combination of its 4,000 dpi HD optics of the EskoArtwork Cyrel Digital Imager and advanced screening technologies, the company promises sharper, more accurate and more vibrant results.

"HD Flexo has been a tremendous success, adopted and applauded by leading flexo printers worldwide," remarks Jürgen Andresen, EskoArtwork vice president, Flexo Business. "Now, EskoArtwork is responding to the further wishes of our customers worldwide to extend HD Flexo capabilities. We have strengthened HD Flexo's position as the 'open' industry standard for high quality flexo, available for all flexo applications — labels, flexible packaging and corrugated — and supported by major plate manufacturers. These new capabilities further enable conversion of gravure and offset work to flexo. The enhanced process color gamut makes it possible to replace spot colors with process colors, thus reducing the number of print stations and making co-printing of designs possible."

EskoArtwork achieves HD Flexo through its MicroCell screening, which improves solid ink transfer as well as extending the gamut. HD Flexo 2.0 is currently in beta testing and will be released in Q4 of this year. Existing HD Flexo customers will receive version 2.0 as part of their maintenance contracts. In its first year of use, 175 Cyrel Digital Imagers with HD Flexo have been installed around the world.

Flint Group Flexographic Products has launched what it refers to as a digital version of its water washable flexo printing plate for the narrow-web and mid-web markets.

nyloflex Sprint Digital is said to provide a high resistance to UV-based inks and varnishes, while producing at up to 60 L/cm.

Washout of the nyloflex Sprint Digital plate, according to Flint, can be done by using tap water. The plate washout does not requires any additives or solvents, according to the company.

nyloflex Sprint Digita is described as having a processing time of less than 30 minutes for the entire platemaking process.

Apple computers has announced the long-awaited update to its professional computers. The new Mac Pro, which feature up to 12 cores of processing power based on Intel Xeon processors, will arrive this August. According to Apple, the computers will be 50 percent faster than the previous generation.

The new Mac Pros also feature Solid State Drive (SSD) options, which greatly improve system read speed when compared to traditional magnetic hard drives. Also available for the first time is the inclusion of two Mini DisplayPorts and one dual link DVI port, driven by ATI graphics (a 1GB ATI Radeon HD5770 is offered standard, described by Apple as being faster than even the top-of-the-line cards of the previous generation.) An optional ATI Radeon HD 5870 is available, which doubles the performance of the 5770.

Absent from this update is support for the new USB 3.0 standard. Aesthetically speaking, the new Mac Pros appear identical to the previous generation.  

Pricing starts at US$2499 and ranges to US$4999 for the top-of-the-line processor, sans options such as the HD5870 or the 512GB SSD.

Alongside of the Mac Pro upgrade is Apple's new 27-inch LED Cinema Display, which has a resolution of 2560x1440 and a built-in iSight camera. Pricing starts is listed as US$999 and requires a Mac with Mini DisplayPort connectivity.

Also announced is an update to Apple's iMac line, which upgrades the computers CPUs to the latest generation of Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. The computers will also get a boost in its video capability with new ATI hardware. An option of interest is a 256GB SSD hard drive for the 27-inch models, which is added onto a standard hard drive of up to 2TB in capacity.

Pricing for the new iMacs start at US$1,199 for the 21.5-inch models and US$1,699 for the 27-inch, 3.2Ghz Core i3 model.

The North American market now has access to EskoArtwork’s Cyrel Digital Imager (CDI) Spark 1712, which is a flexo plate and film imaging system, specifically designed for narrow-web tag and label printers.

According to the company, the CDI Spark 1712 is able to image digital flexo plates, foil-based digital letterpress plates, digital silk screens, chemistry-free film and chemistry-free offset plates. With an external drum design, vacuum system and EasyClamp, the Spark 1712 loads plates and ablative film up to 16.5 x 11.8-inches and .12 of an inch thick. According to Esko, at its highest image resolution of 2,540 ppi, the Spark 1712 can image a full-size plate in nine minutes and 30 seconds.
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