Embedded vs External Fiery Server for printing PDF’s and InDesign

CliffSpielman

Well-known member
Hi. I’m looking to lease my first press, geared towards my specific needs which are as follows:

-Printing PDF’s and InDesign docs.
-The docs are color but are simple designs.
-From a printing standpoint, the only complexities are that one side has font sizes of around 1.5pt, all in black. Pretty small. Also, there is a centered color image printed as a half tone, “under which” the 1.5pt content should still be clearly readable. I have decent output from a few print shops, so I know it’s doable.
-My volume is very small, at least for now, compared to an actual print shop.

The various digital presses I’m looking at all have various Fiery options, both embedded and external.

Based on the basic info I’ve provided (or more info if you need it), will an external Fiery not only offer better performance but also higher quality print output? I’m much less worried about performance than squeezing as much quality and crispness out of the printing.

The embedded controllers don’t seem to offer the Adobe PDF Engine, probably cuz the controller is Linux. Does this reflect on the quality of the output? Especially considering my small font sizes and need for image half tones over the small text.

I suppose the reason I wouldn’t get an external server is simply $$ but on the other hand I need to have the best output possible.

Note that I haven’t mentioned specific presses, but if it would help, I can mention the few presses I’m looking at.
 

wonderings

Well-known member
Not sure of the differences, though obviously the external are going to be more powerful as they should be considering how much they cost.

I would not buy a digital press without running real jobs on a demo unit. We ran live jobs on digital units before buying. Tried our toughest jobs, if they did well there we were happy. Do not just buy based on specs on a sheet. Get a demo, bring the file on a USB stick and run it yourself, at least print a few sheets if you cannot do a live job.
 

AP90

Well-known member
I would definitely mention a few of the presses that you are looking at. That way we can help out with what your needs are. Also, on some of the engines that can produce the quality that you are looking for, the lease on a fiery can run you $300-$500+ a month just for the Fiery.
 

CliffSpielman

Well-known member
I have been printing test sheets on the presses I'm looking at, but haven't run any live jobs. My jobs wouldn't be too big though, maybe like 500 double sided sheets of either 80# cover stock or a synthetic (still TBD). Actually I should have added that in my OP. I can live with printing double sided on cover stock (I love McCoy) but would like to be able to print double sided on a synthetic like Teslin or other. It creates really nice laminating opportunities for me.

Anyway, some presses on the radar are the Canon ImagePress C650, since I don't need as many add-on units as are available with the C750 and higher. Also the Konica Minolta C2060 but I haven't seen a good print test from that one yesterday. Some knowledgable folks are playing around with my test document. I've had decent results from a Versant 80, but I suspect it's out of my price range. For my total equipment lease cost, I'd like to stay around $500/month. I can go a bit higher but only if I know and verify it's the configuration I need. The C2060 is leasing at $310 until a promo ends. Is the $300-$500 for a Fiery for an external or embedded? For some reason, I'm thinking (guessing hoping) the embedded one is cheaper. I'm waiting for an estimate from the sales rep I'm talking to.
 

Shawnd

Well-known member
External fiery is the way to go if you can, I had to deal with bustled fierys on the xerox 700's and hated it, I hated fierys till we went external and now I love them because it does what I need it to do and quickly.
 

cyanman

Member
Starting with a caveat - Each press manufacturer contracts with EFI to determine the standard and optional feature sets for each model of Fiery. So what may be standard on one Fiery may be an option or not available at all on some models of other Fiery's, or different vendors equipment. Check the specifics of the RIP's you are looking at before making your decision!

That said, in general embedded/bustled Fiery's do not support VDP file formats. They can consume and print PDF/VT but they generally flatten the file and process each page as a stand alone. Depending on your file this may or may not make the processing time unacceptable. As for specialized VDP formats like PPML, VPS etc. I've not seen an embedded Fiery that would take them, but maybe some I don't deal with do accept them. External Fiery's will generally accept VDP formats. Additionally most external Fiery's have the option of leveraging APPE that can be an additional benefit in processing PDF files, as the file is not converted to PostScript as part of the processing.

So aside from the obvious upgrade in hardware, the formats and file handling of VDP is considerably different between embedded and external Fiery's. As someone said in an earlier response, the only way to know how this plays in your workflow is to test with your VDP files.
 

CliffSpielman

Well-known member
I definitely need as much control as possible since my content isn't trivial to print. The whole point of this is to experiment as needed, without being dependent on an outside shop. I'm waiting on some quotes, but will also ask if there's an upgrade path from a bustled to external Fiery - or if I'm locked into my original choice for the 5 year lease term. If there's an upgrade path, then I could start with bustled, learn what I need to and upgrade if it doesn't work out.

One thing I'm still unclear about, and I apologize if I'm not interpreting the replies properly, is whether the bustled Fiery results in worst print quality than the external? My black text printed at 1.5pt has little margin for error. If an external Fiery controller will actually provide more options to printing this text more sharply than the bustled, than I need the external setup.
 

deckm00@yahoo.com

Well-known member
The other thing to keep in mind is that the Fiery is only part of the equation. The print engine itself has to be capable of high enough resolution in the first place. You might look for models that incorporate VCSEL technology. If a vendor gives you a blank stare when you mention it then move on to the next one.

FWIW all Fiery controllers run on Linux. Even though the external variety controllers also include Windows so that you can connect a keyboard, monitor and mouse the Fiery service is still running on a Linux partition. As mentioned by cyanman each vendor's deal with EFI may vary so ask questions.
 

Joe

Well-known member
Are you sure you mean 1.5 pt text as that will be some trick to get 1.5 pt text to be readable as text that size cannot be read by the human eye?
 

Puch

Well-known member
If you feed relatively simple pages to the internal RIP (as you've mentioned), there will be no visible difference compared to the external ones. The embedded systems are less powerful, but (at least on Konicas) they offer almost the same functionality as the big sisters. Regarding KM, even the non-Fiery one (called Hikari, if I remember right) does a very decent job.

If you plan to feed live graphic (PDFs with transparency and device-independent colors) to the printer, you definitely need a RIP with APPE, therefore go with the external ones.
 

CliffSpielman

Well-known member
Puch, by transparency do you mean - for example - overlapping layers in the original InDesign doc with less than 100% opacity? My original designs are in InDesign. Typically I'll have a center image which sits on top of a text layer. I play with the color and opacity of that center image so that it is prominent enough but yet the underlying text is readable.
 

CliffSpielman

Well-known member
I'm sorry but what is the appeal to having text that cannot be read without a loupe or magnifying glass? Attached is a PDF with text that at 12 pt fills an 8.5 x 11 page but at 1.5 pt is 14 lines that fills about 1" of the page.

I design and sell educational posters for kids and include magnifiers so they can explore the content, repeating patterns, etc.
 

msaeger

Well-known member
I'm sorry but what is the appeal to having text that cannot be read without a loupe or magnifying glass? Attached is a PDF with text that at 12 pt fills an 8.5 x 11 page but at 1.5 pt is 14 lines that fills about 1" of the page.

I printed your test page on my brother printer at home and looked at it using the usb microscope. Here is a picture of that. Not really readable but much better than I thought it would do.
 

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ksherrod

Well-known member
I don't believe that embedded versus external there should be a quality difference for most applications. RIP time will no doubt suffer. Don't you just have to load Command Workstation on another computer and program the job from there? Perhaps there are some features disabled but I would be surprised if it just dumbed down the print quality itself.

One thing concerning is the $500/month lease term budget...not sure that you could get a worthwhile machine with service and supplies for that? That doesn't add up. Definitely approach with caution.
 

CliffSpielman

Well-known member
I don't believe that embedded versus external there should be a quality difference for most applications. RIP time will no doubt suffer. Don't you just have to load Command Workstation on another computer and program the job from there? Perhaps there are some features disabled but I would be surprised if it just dumbed down the print quality itself.

One thing concerning is the $500/month lease term budget...not sure that you could get a worthwhile machine with service and supplies for that? That doesn't add up. Definitely approach with caution.
The $500 budget is a goal. One misunderstanding I had is that a sales rep I first spoke to quoted me on machines with no Fiery controller but just whatever native print controller the machines come with. I didn't know enough of that moment. Since then I've been doing more homework. I'm still waiting on pricing with the bustled Fiery, but just for the machines I was quoted 5-year lease payments of $311 for a KM C2060 and $370 for a Canon C650. Both include all the supplies and maintenance needed, but click charges (and Fiery) are extra.
 

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