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FLEXO Magazine : July 2011
Plants & Processes 62 FLEXO july 2011 www.flexography.org Viable or Volatile? In-House Prepress can and cannot be a sound Business strategy By robert smithson Capital equipment requirements approximate $250,000 . Operational expenses exceed $130,000 annually. Technological advancements can quickly erode com- petitive advantages. No wonder so many narrow web printers are confounded by the question: “Is establishing in-house prepress operations a viable or volatile business strategy?” Crunching the numbers provides the obvious answer to the question, yet even that step is subjective. Illustrating the point requires that we examine the situation from a historical perspective. But, that can serve to cloud matters and add to all the confusion surrounding the issue. The world of flexo prepress is constantly changing. We see new technological advancements every month--equipment, software, platemaking materials etc. All tout “less dot gain,” “better durability,” “higher line screen,” or “better proof match to printed product,” etc. Rarely do any of these statements refer to cost savings of any sort. All, however, imply that the latest and greatest products deliver the best possible results. Rapid turnaround, strict internal controls, all digital work- flows, cost concerns, service shortfalls and plate consumption patterns are frequently cited as providing the rationale for internalizing prepress functions. (See sidebar). That said, the question becomes: “Will an internal prepress department truly drive process and quality improvements?” Many factors Decision Points • Of all the reasons for going in-house with prepress, the volume of plates used is the most important. • Conflicting technology produces conflicting results. • The world of flexo prepress is constantly chang- ing. We see new technological advancements every month--equipment, software, platemaking materi- als etc. All tout “less dot gain,” “better durability,” “ higher line screen,” or “better proof match to printed product.” • The numbers are the numbers. Facts should help the printer decide whether setting up a prepress depart- ment is a sound concept or not. like the products on supermarket shelves, the world of flexo prepress is constantly changing. FLEXO file photo.