Design for Digital Production

Written October 16, 2019

Designing a workable environment for digital equipment includes proper cooling for all electronic devices such as — monitors, computers, battery backups & scanning devices.  It’s very expensive to add additional cooling after the foundation has been poured and walls erected. For quality control purposes, digital output equipment should be housed in an environmentally enclosed area with both temperature and humidification control systems.

Be aware that electrostatic printing systems have specific airflow needs which need further planning. Direct to screen and scanner areas should be in the cleanest environment possible (i.e. non-carpeted, dust free acoustical ceiling tiles). The lighting system should be flexible and accommodate change without creating glare or visibility problems. Indirect lighting schemes are the most desirable for computer graphic work areas with spot task lighting as needed.

Electrical and Network Design Considerations for Digital Production  Networks exist to get data from one device to another. The first step in any network design is to determine what kind of data you have, where it is coming from, and where it is going. Reasonable issues to think about are:

  • How much traffic can any one station generate?
  • What will individual host usage patterns be?
  • What will aggregate traffic patterns be?
  • What speed internet connection is available?

Electrical Considerations 

The power feeds for all critical computer systems should be on separate circuits from the rest of the facility. This will isolate digital production from spikes and outages that would occur from other plant activities. If possible the power should be clean (i.e. no spikes or brownout conditions) utilizing isolation transformers. Don’t forget to include a sufficient number of outlets near computer workstations (4 being the minimum) and at projected expansion areas.

Digital Imaging Production Area 

The laminating and finishing of digital prints requires a lot of space. In your layout, try to envision the largest pieces you might be handling and how they would move through the facility. Keep in mind that in the finishing area, laminators typically need a 4ft. by 8ft. in-feed and out-feed table, not to mention the size of the laminator itself. You also need storage space for the mounting substrates and laminate rolls with room to receive and move them around. Your work area needs to be large enough to lay your digital prints flat, and perform finishing operations on them. Remember that if circular saws are used in production they should not be anywhere near an open area leading to the laminator. The dust that is generated settles on the laminator rollers, the prints, and the floor area making clean up a non-ending task.