As part of its ongoing commitment to fostering education in the packaging industry, EskoArtwork has donated a CDI Spark 2530 imager to The Harper Center of Graphics Technologies at Dunwoody College of Technology. This latest donation adds to the multiple seats of EskoArtwork packaging design and prepress software already in place at the Minneapolis-based school.
Dunwoody College of Technology offers a two-year graphics communications program divided into three tracks: design, premedia and press. Class sizes are kept small, and students get heavy doses of real world experience, digging deep into applications and press operations.
The formula is working: graduates hit the streets well versed in today's technology, giving Dunwoody a very successful placement record with local industry. Just recently, for example, six students armed with ArtiosCAD experience obtained jobs involving structural design.
Plus, for the second year in a row and the third time in four years, Dunwoody's team took first place in the Phoenix College Challenge, an annual product design and printing competition for colleges held during the Flexographic Technical Association's Annual Forum and Info*Flex event. This year's event, with 30 colleges participating, was held April 30, 2011, in Indianapolis.
"Every year the schools have to come up with a solution to a problem and then offer a 20 minute presentation talking about the technical aspects of the process,' explains Shawn Oetjen. "To solve the problem, we used a wide range of EskoArtwork tools, from structural design, to a prepress workflow and RIP software, to making the flexo plates."
Learning a Complete Workflow
With the latest CDI Spark donation, Dunwoody students are able to learn all the tasks involved in an all-digital workflow, from project design to making plates. "Before we got the CDI, we were using film and, let's be real, nobody is using film," says Oetjen. "It was a huge gaping hole in our workflow. We had to outsource the film for processing--there was an entire part of the workflow that we were missing. The CDI just completes the workflow--our students can really see how it all comes together."
Within the graphic design track, classes in structural design and package layout and design make complete use of ArtiosCAD, used as part of the program for the past three years. "Once we had ArtiosCAD, there was a significant change in how we taught that part of the program," notes Gerald Timmreck, Program Manager, Design & Graphics Technology. "Students can actually see how to make a die and do it themselves. In the past, we had to design it in Adobe Illustrator and then send it to a vendor who would make the cuts. If it the cuts were bad, the student was out of luck. With ArtiosCAD, we can make an actual prototype, and test the die; if it's not right, we can make adjustments."
As part of the structural design class, students are required to seek a college employee to recruit as a 'customer'; the customer comes up with a product that requires packaging. The product can be something that is really sold. For example, one instructor used the packaging for a jewelry line she creates. Or it can be for a toy in the instructor's office. In either scenario, the process is the same.
"Students use ArtiosCAD to offer the internal client a demo of what their packaging will look like before the project is finished," says Timmreck. "The 3D feature is a very valuable real-work tool that lets students see on a computer monitor if the prototype works before it gets to the cutting table. The animation features in Visualizer are really great; students can see how the prototype will lay out and fold."
Adds Timmreck, "There's a lot of 'oohing' and 'ahhing' of what the students can do with ArtiosCAD, which is a big factor because it makes the student much more interested in what they are doing."
From Start to Finish
In the Production Workflow class within the press track, students are expected to create a packaging label from start to finish: design an image, lay it out, trap it and make the plates. "We use DeskPack, Automation Engine 10, and FlexProof to make proofs and FlexRIP to RIP files," says Oetjen. "We use Color Engine to color manage the proofs, and CDI to make the plates."
The theory is that the more students can touch the software, the better. By the time they graduate, they are expected to be able to design and lay out a file, trap it, make a plate, and run the project on press.
"A lot of the tools that EskoArtwork has incorporated into their software are cool and fun, so they keep the students interested in learning," says Oetjen "But they also make sense. Seeing that the students 'get it', and why trapping, for example, is so important, is a great thing. They aren't just listening to us explain theories -- they are seeing it for themselves. I show them what to do the first time around, but then they have to do it on their own."
While using DeskPack and PackEdge, for instance, students on the premedia and press tracks are learning the ins and out of trapping. "A designer will design the file," says Oetjen. "The students see the trap before it goes on press. When they see what happens to the design on press they can physically see the results and why they're trapping. It's a powerful tool. When they actually see it, the light bulb goes on; they get it. It's a beautiful thing."