If you’re looking for a digital front end to drive your high-speed, single-pass inkjet press, we invite you to join us at PRINTING United Expo 2023, where we will be showcasing SmartDFE™.
Winner of a prestigious 2023 PRINTING United Pinnacle Product Award in the Technology category, SmartDFE is a full software stack for high-speed, single-pass presses printing fully variable data.
Built upon Harlequin Direct™, the world’s fastest PDF RIP, and using patented components that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning, it provides rasterization and inkjet drop generation for the best possible image quality and fastest printing speeds. Its automation capabilities provide complete control of the print workflow as well as valuable information for QA and inspection, press maintenance and stock control.
It will be the second time at PRINTING United that we will be exhibiting alongside our sister companies in Hybrid Software Group: ColorLogic GmbH, HYBRID Software, iC3D, Meteor Inkjet and Xitron.
“Hybrid Software Group is a unique resource for PRINTING United Expo 2023 attendees. Our software products have contributed to the success of many print providers, ranging from commercial printers to packaging converters as well as wide format/specialty printers. However, our six business units also provide vital OEM technologies to many vendors who use our products and know-how to create digital front ends for fast and powerful digital presses,” comments Mike Rottenborn, Hybrid Software Group PLC CEO.
With less than two weeks to go until Labelexpo Europe 2023, the countdown is on: the team are packing up their demo machines and looking forward to heading over to Brussels on the Eurostar. This year, we’ll be showcasing the award-winning SmartDFE™, the AI-powered Digital Front End for high-speed, single-pass industrial inkjet presses. We chatted to Ian Bolton, product owner of the Smart Control components in SmartDFE, about what you can expect to see when you visit us on the Hybrid Software Group stand 8b/45:
This will be my first time at Labelexpo Europe and I’m excited to be demonstrating the SmartDFE, which is not only built on established, award-winning technology, including the world’s fastest PDF RIP, Harlequin RIP®, but also has some new, ground-breaking technology inside.
SmartDFE is a combination of technologies that OEMs can choose to customize to suit their needs, so we can demonstrate whichever component our visitors are interested in.
The Smart Print Controller™ is the hub of SmartDFE and the interface where the press operator manages job submission and connects to the Harlequin RIP. Its automation capabilities provide complete control of the print workflow, as well as valuable information for QA and inspection, press maintenance and stock control. We’ll also be demonstrating Streamline Autotune™, which leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to print the best image quality at the fastest printing speeds.
SmartDFE also includes a suite of components that simplifies the process of obtaining good quality and color, due to encoding specialist knowledge within the software. This makes selecting the appropriate media and ink set combination very easy for users of any level of color expertise and takes care of calibrating a given press to match your reference settings as well!
Of course, we mustn’t forget the workflow components in SmartDFE: with STEPZ™ and Smart Workflow™, you can perform a thorough pre-flight check on PDF files to optimize them to print efficiently and at high quality – and use additional features to handle various pre-press tasks that usually require a specialist reprographics studio to correct.
I’m looking forward to welcoming you any time to Stand 8b/45. If you’d like to arrange a demo in advance, then don’t hesitate to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Meet Nigel Wild, an appplications specialist and responsible for workflow in our SmartDFE™. Nigel joined us in 2022.
How did your career path lead you to Global Graphics Software?
I started life as an electronics engineer working for Misomex, servicing and installing CAD, Laser Stepper, and Step & Repeat machines. As the technology moved, so did I; Graphoprint was where I found my passion for workflow whilst working in the platemaking department, helping to introduce their first digital platemaking workflow.
Having enjoyed frontline technology, I was drawn to Artwork Systems (AWS, who have many developers now working at HYBRID Software) and seized an opportunity to join them as an application specialist. At AWS I supported their PCC pageflow system which evolved into Nexus.
More recently and over the past few years, I have been involved with a multinational packaging specialist Brand Imaging Solutions, a brand management and reprographic trade shop, working with brands such as Coca Cola, Del Monte, Weetabix, Vimto and Hallmark specializing in workflow automation.
What do you enjoy most about your role at Global Graphics Software ?
Demonstrations and presentations to people. I love demonstrating how our software simplifies routine and challenging operations, reducing common pain points for their companies, saving them a lot of time. I have to say especially after COVID, I enjoy the interaction with my colleagues, discussing new ideas between different teams with such a large group – it is amazing how solutions evolve and are implemented throughout our software product range.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Being Manchester born and bred, I have followed Manchester City Football Club since 1978.
What are two ‘hybrid’ qualities about you?
This is a hard one to answer. I suppose, having worked in the printing industry in most areas, from printing, prepress, supplying services, hardware, and software solutions, I have had the honor to meet so many talented people. With everyone I meet I am always learning new stuff allowing me to constantly evaluate new and existing methods and processes. This sets me in good stead for my current role as an applications specialist as this is a true hybrid role between sales and technical.
When our software developers take time out in The Shed, our maker space where we try out new technologies and hardware, we never quite know what ideas will surface. But thanks to one software developer’s ingenious creativity we’re now the proud owners of a patent for a method that uses seeds instead of ink to create images.
Former Global Graphics’ software developer Andy Cardy invented the method from a process we use in the printing industry known as screening or half toning. Screening takes a source image with a wide color gamut and creates an output raster format which determines the position and size of droplets of ink required by the printer to recreate the original image.
With this new patent, instead of the output raster format controlling droplets of ink on a printer, it determines:
which plant or seed is planted to create a color reproduction of the original image, allowing for variable space in the reproduction, for example larger drop sizes could represent large foliage plants;
how deep the seed is planted, for variable images throughout the growing season;
where the seed is planted;
and how many seeds are planted.
The screening process and output also takes into account variables such as soil color and its properties. By incorporating these variables, the method guarantees that the final plant-based reproduction appears visually accurate, accounting for the natural hues that may appear between plants, just like we would consider the substrate in the printing industry.
The approach could be suitable for a range of applications including large-scale advertisements, especially on busy flight paths, public artwork and even fallow farmland, where wild bird seed or nectar and pollen sources could be sown in an advertisement image, benefiting both wildlife and the farmer.
Aside from advertising, this technology could be used in place of any activity that would use weed killer or the ploughing of unwanted crops. This could include the methods used to create maize mazes, which are becoming a popular supplemental income option for farmers. The current method of creation is to sow the whole field, then destroy the crop that’s no longer required, tracked by GPS. Instead, this technology would simply avoid planting seeds where they are not required.
Of course, we know from our own gardening experience that things don’t always grow as planned, but there’s a chance we could say goodbye to hours of painstaking work to create that advertisement in a field of crops and hello to a new wave of agricultural artistry!
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This week we announced a groundbreaking update to Mako Core™, our popular software development kit (SDK) for developers specializing in print document processing and manipulation.
Mako now includes a game-changing intelligent Document Object Model (iDOM) that provides unparalleled access to every aspect of a document’s composition, including fonts, images, vector art, layers and metadata. Unlike other SDKs that offer generic support for various Page Description Languages such as PDF, PS, OXPS, and PCL across print and digital document domains, Mako is sharply focused on print.
We’re now counting down to Fespa 2023 – this time being held in Munich, 23 – 26 May.
We know obtaining the best color output from your digital press is a complex process and that’s why we’ve created SmartMedia™; it’s a suite of components that make it easy for press operators who are not color experts to get great color from their press. It reproduces spot colors accurately and easily using extended gamut or 7-color printing, which is particularly important for print applications such as textiles and packaging where reproducing color accurately from the original artwork is key. It’s available with SmartDFE™, the full software and hardware stack that adds a print subsystem to the fully automated smart factory.
So come along to Hall B2-Stand B55 for your personal demo. We’ll be exhibiting alongside our sister company, Meteor Inkjet, on the Hybrid Software Group stand.
Recently I was talking to one of our Mako™ partners, Actino Software, who are based in Germany. Actino have successfully built many document solutions for their customers with Mako, and a recent example was for a large German crane manufacturer with subsidiaries worldwide. The design, manufacture and maintenance of cranes requires a lot of documentation, and the company estimates they manage around 100,000 documents, mainly in PDF.
There are numerous challenges to managing such a large corpus of documents, and one of those is the quality of those documents. I’m not talking here about the content, but rather the way in which the PDF was produced. Many different authoring and PDF creation tools are in use, some going back decades, resulting in a wide variation in the way PDFs are constructed. This is where Mako comes in.
For this project, Actino Software built centralized services that analyze and optimize the PDFs and prepare them for secure delivery. Mako can do this quickly, processing 400 MB files with many thousands of pages, fast. The analysis function identifies the number of pages, bookmarks, fonts, embedded attachments and other features, including document metadata (title, subject etc). The optimize function removes invalid hyperlinks, changes named destinations into working hyperlinks, and resaves the file to a reduce file size. In this particular case, Mako reduced the file size by more than 50% thanks to image resampling. Mako’s built-in font optimization (eliminating duplicate fonts and merging of font subsets) is another way it can reduce file size.
This work supports two DRM (Digital Rights Management) workflows:
Distribution via a portable storage device such as thumb drive, supported by a plug-in to Adobe Acrobat Reader that talks back to the company website for authentication.
Download from a secure website, for which small file size is a must.
Actino were able to meet the customer requirements with a rapid development schedule, based on their understanding of document workflows and their familiarity with the Mako Core SDK. Their customer chose the Actino solution over an Adobe DRM solution, which was considered too expensive and rigid.
When HP Inc began developing HP Site Flow, an end-to-end workflow and production automation system for HP digital press owners, they encountered several challenges including: addressing the growing personalized market; the need to ‘normalize’ PDFs, given the wide variation in the quality of files entering the system; and the ability to quickly scale up or down to accommodate varying levels of demand.
Read the case study to see how Mako Core™ SDK proved its capability and adaptability by rising to HP Site Flow’s development challenges, resulting in increased productivity and profitability for its users.
It’s great to be back in Lucerne this week for Hunkeler Innovationdays 2023. We’ve had some interesting conversations and it’s been a good opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues in the industry. But it’s not over yet! If you’re interested in adding a print subsystem to a smart factory or manufacturing line, come and talk to us on booth 45 to find out more about our SmartDFE™.
This year, we’re exhibiting on the Hybrid Software Group booth, alongside our sister companies: ColorLogic, HYBRID Software, iC3D, Meteor Inkjet and Xitron. In this recent interview with Inkish TV, our CEO, Mike Rottenborn, explained how we all work together and what you can expect to see from the Group at Hunkeler Innovationdays:
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