I have been a member of a commercial printing (reprographics) forum hosted on Yahoo. Today one of the reprographers shared his perspectives on processing DWF and PDF files received at his shop. I thought I would share it with you. Recall that there are several ways DWF files can be handled at a reprographers shop. This reprographer played and tested various file ripping software with various DWF and PDF files for both full size and half size printing requirements. The shop uses Océ Repro Desk Server 1.6.5.
Ghostscript: This is great for fast ripping of PostScript and PDF files that are not complicated. Mechanical, Civil, and Electrical disciplines are good examples where these consultants generally do not require top notch quality.
Océ Client Tools: DWF full size prints are acceptable, but they really do not use it much for ripping. Half size printing of scaled line weights are acceptable but solid hatching quality is poor. The Océ Client Tools suite does not support direct rip to half size files.
Océ Postscript 3: This handles PDF files only, and they find it is about 10 versions behind in updates (slow and not recommended).
CADzation AcroPlot Repro: This works great with PDF and some DWF. As they tested, they found light line weights drop from time to time with different files, especially 45 degree lines. But for the most part, AcroPlot Repro worked well for both full and half size DWF and PDF files (recommended).
PLP PlotWorks Convert: This was the best rip software available with great support. They use this as a standard for file ripping if they need to rip any DWF or PDF files. Both full size and half size prints are excellent quality and, like AcroPlot Repro, has a few different dither patterns. They get the best solid fill hatch pattern printing using PlotWorks Convert. The draw back is that it is more expensive and their clients prefer them to rip the files with PLP so they are currently spending more time processing files than they did months back as the clients send unprocessed PDF files in via Repro Desk (highly recommended).
Full size and half size ripping (two separate files) is recommended when using the AcroPlot Repro or PlotWorks Convert when using anything other than the default settings. Océ VIC (Vector Image Compressed) or generic PLT files still have the best output quality of all file types in the reprographer's opinion as they can be used as one file prints all (vector based) sizes but with all the collaboration and printers that reprographers and project teams use today and the in-ability for the file creator to review the files prior to sending (unless they use Repro Desk) it can cause problems with the quick turn arounds expected in today's world.
The reprographer agreed with the forum from another reprographer that reprographers are having more difficulty ripping or printing PDF files than DWF files. He also agreed that there are too many 3rd party PDF writers that have been customized and Ghostscript has not been able to keep up. Some of their PDF issues also come from Macintosh based design software as they find it difficult to troubleshoot these types of PDF files.
Today reprographers spend more time file ripping to TIFF from PDF and DWF file types as there is nothing on the market that our clients can use in place of Ghostscript for file prepping before sending. The reprographer coined new terms:
- "Print Ready files types" being PDF and DWF
- "Printer Ready file types" being VIC/LDF (Layered Document Format), PLT/HPGL, and TIFF
So when it comes to DWF, you can see that reprographers have a variety of options. Autodesk continues to work with the reprographics industry. To get beyond the paper, DWF has to be able to get to paper first. Reprographers have choices available that make that possible. As with all things in life, some choices are better than others.