A2Z PDF – a versatile workflow for offset and digital print

A2Z PDF – a versatile workflow for offset and digital print

We recently caught up with P Chellappan, partner and chief technologist, PM Digital Products, at his Chennai office to get an update on the company’s newly launched prepress software, A2Z PDF. Developed by Chellappan’s in-house software engineering team, A2Z PDF is a versatile prepress software designed from the ground up to meet the various workflow requirements of offset and digital printers. Claiming to reduce prepress time from hours to minutes and even seconds, we decided to take a demo of each feature of the software to understand how it works.

The software offers 12 categories, which further contain sections with several useful features— a range one can expect only with a combination of various software. The categories such as Impose pages for saddle stitch, Add numbers, text or variable data and Add blank pages anywhere you need are self-explanatory and once selected, they can perform a job in just a matter of minutes and a few clicks.

Talking about the need for developing software like A2Z, Chellappan said, “Being in the digital printing business for so long, we know the pain points that printers and clients suffer from. We understand the areas that take a lot of time in prepress. A customer brings a PDF file in different forms and it cannot be used as is for printing. One needs to do a lot of editing, resizing, cropping and, of course, imposing, deleting and reordering of pages. One needs a combination of software, such as Acrobat Pro, Illustrator and others to achieve the desired output before a file is finally sent for printing. A2Z is a standalone application that does away with the need of an assortment of software.”

P Chellappan, partner and chief technologist, PM Digital Products. Photo IPP

Saving time in prepress
Chellapan says that a 100-page center pinned book printing job for, say, a quantity of minimum 100 books would earlier take hours for an operator to process, resize and set up for final processing. With A2Z, the prepress workflow time is reduced to a mere 5 minutes, thanks to several options that it comes loaded with, including Create N-Ups for all pages; Impose pages for saddle stitch; Impose pages to print one copy; which is used for printers to print a sample copy, Impose folded and custom signatures; Tile pages larger than print size, Join many pages to form one page, Split a single page into two or more; Add numbers, text or variable data; Scale, rotate and resize pages; Extract, delete, reverse or duplicate pages; Add blank pages anywhere you need; and, Combine several PDF files into one.

The software has already been shared with several digital print service providers and is in the beta testing stage. According to Chellappan, “We have already sold the software to a few known names in the digital space and are awaiting their feedback so we can include some more features in A2Z. Currently, we are not in a position to offer hands-on training on the usage of the software but we have included a useful ‘Help’ file that provides a step-by-step guide.”

The software can be downloaded at www.A2Zbinary.com at a one-time fee of Rs. 25,000. Users can start with a 15-day free trial to get a better sense of the working of A2Z. Chellappan plans to add more features to the software at regular intervals, which users can upgrade to for a nominal additional cost.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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