Late-Stage Imposition: The Next Leap in Print Efficiency

Late-Stage Imposition: The Next Leap in Print Efficiency


In the ever evolving printing industry, the management and control of printing processes play a pivotal role in determining efficiency, cost, and the quality of the final product. How work is imposed is one such area witnessing substantial changes. Traditional Management Information Systems (MISs) and other print control mechanisms historically created impositions in tandem with job creation. This method, while effective during the days of offset printing, is misaligned with the highly agile operational requirements of the digital print industry today.

What is an imposition?

Imposition in the realm of printing is a crucial step that involves arranging multiple pages or cards on printer’s sheets to ensure minimal wastage and to streamline the subsequent binding or finishing processes. Traditionally, this process focused primarily on how sheets of paper or other printing materials could be best utilized. This would frequently involve arranging multiple units on each media sheet, often accompanied by trim marks, registration marks, and other symbols to aid in accurate post-print finishing. It could also necessitate automated rotation and other adjustments to convert customer artwork into a format that’s efficient for printing and finishing.

In ZenSmart’s perspective, the scope of imposition is broader and more integrated. Beyond the standard procedures, ZenSmart’s approach delves into the generation of job instructions or slates, creating barcodes, integrating custom and digital data, and including advanced finishing instructions tailored to specific production needs. Unique processes, such as image mirroring for dye sublimation and stretch and skew for input standardization, are also integrated, ensuring that the product meets specific manufacturing requirements.

The digital production problem: Imposition Inflexibility

Traditionally impositions were prepped well in advance. Files (which were often repetitions of a single job), would be queued up in the press controller, ready for an operator initiation. This method worked well when printing runs were long on a single printer with one finishing style. The process, though straightforward, critically lacks the flexibility required to cater to the dynamic demands of today’s varied print assignments.

What happens if the B2 press falls over and you need to swap to an SRA3 press? What if the Technau or Horizon automated cutter fails and you need to drop back to the Polar guillotine?

Sure, you’ve got the agility on the press side to impose to whatever output and finishing type in down-stream workflow that you need… but is the last minute imposition change possible without disrupting your production flow? How agile is your production capability?

ZenSmart’s Solution: Revolutionizing with Real-Time Imposition

Recognizing this bottleneck, ZenSmart pioneered the “just-in-time imposition” methodology aka “late-stage imposition “. It radically differs from the traditional work submission method. Agility is the big beneficiary.

Instead of deciding hours (or even the day before) what imposition to use, ZenSmart queues incoming work alongside similar jobs (according to site configured queue rules) within ZenSmart’s advanced batch management system. These batches are then automatically formed, employing business logic designed to optimize the entire print workflow. When it’s go-time, the Press Operator selects the beautifully formed batches to print, chooses which printer and finishing style and then just lets ZenSmart manage the intricate details.

The beauty of ZenSmart’s approach lies in its flexible management of varying imposition templates, ensuring perfect impositions every time. These are all dynamic and tailored specifically for the chosen press and finish, all in a matter of seconds – including trim marks, color codes, bar codes, finishing team instructions plus other dynamic variables such as press operator name and print time.

Beyond delivering significant operational agility and resilience, this innovation has further simplified the role of the operators, as they now only need to execute the print commands from the press controller, without being muddled by the complexities of business logic.

Operational advantages of just-in-time imposition

  1. Flexibility: ZenSmart’s late-stage imposition grants maximum flexibility to operators. They can make last-minute decisions on the ideal press-finishing combination, aligning perfectly with real-world conditions at the exact moment of printing.
  2. Efficiency: By conducting imposition at the eleventh hour, ZenSmart ensures the formation of the most efficient print run. This approach not only streamlines the printing process but also significantly reduces waste, making operations more sustainable and cost-effective.
  3. Simplicity: ZenSmart relieves press operators from the burden of decision-making regarding job selections. With the imposition process refined and optimized, operators can dedicate their entire focus to the core task of printing, ensuring impeccable results every time.
  4. Integrated press fleet: Instead of each press-finishing combination being a fixed workflow, ZenSmart unites the whole plant into a single flexible whole. Presses and finishing combinations can be dynamically mixed. This can make a huge difference to press and capital utilization and deliver big savings.


ZenSmart’s real-time imposition isn’t just an innovation – it’s a game changer for operational flexibility. By identifying the drawbacks of pre-imposition and introducing a solution that caters to the diverse demands of today’s digital print world, ZenSmart underscores the importance of adaptability and precision in a competitive industry.

The net result is the ability to continually drive down production costs, deliver agility and better performance to Service Level Agreement (SLA) and therefore competitive advantage.

Want to Learn More?

If you would like to know more about ZenSmart real-time imposition, then find us at and send us an inquiry via the form located at the base of each page.

Sammy Brent

Sammy Brent is the CIO of ZenSmart, a leading workflow automation platform that streamlines manufacturing in On Demand plants across the world.



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