In February 2006, I provided a Comparison of Commercial Printing Formats. One of the items in this comparison was processing time at the reprographics shop. From a reprographer's perspective, time is money. When their machines are converting blank paper to printouts, they are making money. They get paid by the page. When their machines are doing something other than printing, they are not getting paid. As such reprographers look at file formats from a "time to process" perspective.
In July 2006, I mentioned a reprographics forum called Apprentice in my DWF to Tiff Conversion posting. I surveyed the forum members as to whether they charge more for printing DWF files based on the processing time. Here is what I found:
- 53% of the reprographers who responded did not charge extra fees for printing DWF files. The other 47% did.
- Plot files are still the most popular file type received by shops. On average, 18% of incoming jobs are exclusively DWF for shops that do not charge more; however, that number is on the rise. For shops that do charge more, only 4% of the jobs are DWF. (Coincidence?)
DWF files provide clear advantages for those who need to share design data:
- DWF files contain everything (design and non-design data) is in one file.
- DWF files are small for easy transmission over the web, e.g. email.
- DWF files can be viewed and printed on a variety of devices.
- DWF files can be zoomed to obtain additional detail.
- DWF files contain text strings that can be used to locate files with search engines.
- DWF files contain metadata that allow them to be incorporated into project, product, and asset workflows.
- DWF files provide hyperlinks to connect the design data to other sheets or other web sites.
- DWF files contain intelligent objects that can be accurately measured and counted.
So given these advantages to Autodesk customers, it's just a question of finding a reprographics shop who does not impose an additional charge for printing them. They are out there.