Actino and Mako boost efficiency of PDF file management for German crane manufacturer

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.

Find out more about Mako.

Further reading

  1. Mako helps to increase productivity and profitability for HP Site Flow users
  2. Carry out complex tasks for your print workflow easily with Mako
  3. Improving PDF accessibility with Structure Tagging

About the author

David Stevenson
David Stevenson, Product Manager – Mako

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Digital watermarking in print workflows – Part 2 – When to add a digital watermark

In this second post about digital watermarking in the print workflow, author Martin Bailey explains the stages when it’s possible to add a digital watermark.

Digital watermarking is an emerging technology, part of the latest step on the evolution of product identification. Global Graphics Software has partnered with Digimarc, a leader in digital watermarking and a member of our Partner Network, to explore this topic and future developments.

Adding a digital watermark during the design stage

In some workflows the designer may apply digital watermarks to a design by, for instance, using a plugin to an application such as Adobe Illustrator. This is equally appropriate for both steganography and an artwork masking layer, and gives the maximum opportunity for approval of the design with the digital watermark in place, and for any rework to the design that might be requested to realize the greatest benefit from using that watermark.
It will not normally be appropriate for the digital watermark to be added by the designer if each instance of the print requires unique data to be encoded in it; variable data composition is usually performed later in the workflow.

Application of digital watermarking has different advantages and disadvantages at various stages in the design and production workflow
Application of digital watermarking has different advantages and disadvantages at various stages in the design and production workflow.

Adding a digital watermark in composition/prepress

In other workflows adding the digital watermark may be a function of a variable data composition or prepress department. Just as for application by the designer, this is applicable for both steganography and an artwork masking layer. There is a reasonable opportunity for approval of the design with the digital watermark in place. But it would be slower and more expensive to rework the design if that is required at this stage than if the watermark were added by the designer.

If the digital watermark is added in prepress then it can carry both static and variable data. As discussed above, however, variable data is best suited to use of an artwork masking layer rather than steganography, if only because of the amount of data that must be generated and then incorporated into a PDF file when steganography is used for a significant number of unique codes.

But applying even an artwork masking layer in prepress does bulk up the resulting print-ready PDF file with many copies of that layer, each one carrying different data. And it can also slow down processing in the Digital Front End (DFE) for a digital press. An overprinted graphic covering large areas of each piece of output in the PDF file can make it harder for the variable data optimization in a DFE to break the design apart so that it can minimize the total amount of processing required to read, color manage, render and halftone screen the job. (See Global Graphics Software’s guide: Full Speed Ahead: How to make variable data PDF files that won’t slow your digital press.)

Late-binding in the Digital Front End (DFE)

A new development in the application of digital watermarking is to add the marks right at the very last minute before the data is printed. In our SmartDFE™, for example, this can be done in parallel with or after the color management and rendering.

Applying the watermarks in parallel with color management and rendering (in the RIP) allows full access to all color channels for the output, while also removing the need to generate a fully resolved “optimized PDF” or PDF/VT file containing all of the variable data further upstream. In turn, this can reduce the overhead of optimizing variable data processing in the RIP. The final result is increased throughput, both in composition/prepress and in the DFE.

Applying marks after the RIP enables even higher performance through the DFE, with the added benefit of providing a more predictable processing speed because the amount of processing required is more deterministic than is rendering PDF. This might restrict the watermark to be painted in only one color channel, though.

Increasing speed and predictability in the DFE allows the use of lower cost hardware in those DFEs, or assists with printing at full engine speed for a larger proportion of jobs.

Late-binding application of digital watermarks will also always occur in an environment where the characteristics of the press that will be used to print the items are known, including resolution, bitdepth etc.

These benefits make this the optimum choice for highly efficient printing workflows for variable data digital watermarks, driving digital presses at full engine speed. The trade-offs are that it’s a little harder to review and approve proofs of the output, and that use for images with steganography is not usually appropriate.

This is an excerpt from the white paper: Optimizing Digital Watermarking in Print Workflows. To learn more about digital watermarking download your copy:

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE WHITE PAPER

White paper: Optimizing digital watermarking in print workflows
White paper: Optimizing digital watermarking in print workflows

About the author

Martin Bailey, CTO, Global Graphics Software

Martin Bailey, former distinguished technologist at Global Graphics Software, is currently the primary UK expert to the ISO committees maintaining and developing PDF and PDF/VT. He is the author of Full Speed Ahead: how to make variable data PDF files that won’t slow your digital press, a guide offering advice to anyone with a stake in variable data printing including graphic designers, print buyers, composition developers and users.

Further reading

  1. How to add a digital watermark

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Digital watermarking in print workflows – Part 1 – How to add a digital watermark

Digital watermarking is an emerging technology, part of the latest step on the evolution of product identification. Global Graphics Software has partnered with Digimarc, a leader in digital watermarking and a member of our Partner Network, to explore this topic and future developments.

In this first of two posts, Martin Bailey explains the ways you can add a digital watermark:

A digital watermark may be added in one of two ways:

1. Using steganography
If a product design includes images, whether photographic or generated digitally, data can be hidden within that image data using steganography. Steganography is the practice of concealing a message within another message or a physical object (source: Wikipedia).

In order to hide the data, the color values of individual pixels in the image are altered in a way that is intended to not be obvious to the human eye. The alterations may need to be applied slightly differently depending on the image content and the print technology to be used. This means it’s often valuable to be able to proof a design with the images in place, and to do that either on the printing device that will be used for production, or on one that has been carefully tuned to reproduce color, tones and levels of detail to match that production device.

Alternatively both the printer/converter and their customer can inspect the artwork and verify the Digimarc code using PACKZ® or CLOUDFLOW® Proofscope, professional prepress tools from HYBRID Software. As well as checking for the correctness of the code, this also allows verification that the code placement conforms to the customer’s requirements, and supports a formal approval process.

Reviews of the proofed output may lead to a decision to re-embed the data into the image with slightly different parameters. Systems to automate that adjustment are improving, but the advisability of proofing means that steganography is best used at a point in the workflow where an appropriate review and reconfiguration may be made without disrupting throughput.

Steganography is a very effective technique if the same image will be used on every instance of an item because it can be difficult for a forger to reproduce. But if your goal is to encode unique data in each instance, you’d have to generate an altered image for each one. When you’re producing watermarks for a large number of instances that would mean generating a huge number of copies of what started off as a single image. In most workflows and for most products that’s not a commercially viable approach.

2. Artwork masking layer
The second method for adding a digital watermark is to overlay an “artwork masking layer” that encodes the desired data. This is a pattern of graphics across large areas of the design, making sure that those graphics are sufficiently fine that they are not immediately apparent to a viewer. In practice this usually means something that looks like a sprinkling of very fine dots under a magnifying glass or loupe.

A digital watermark as an artwork masking layer over a plain yellow area of a job.
A digital watermark as an artwork masking layer over a plain yellow area of a job.

These overlays are also very difficult for a forger to reproduce. They have the advantage over hiding data in images that they can also be used in efficient workflows to carry unique data for each product instance; there is much less data to handle for every copy.

This is an excerpt from the white paper: Optimizing Digital Watermarking in Print Workflows. To learn more about digital watermarking download your copy:

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE WHITE PAPER

White paper: Optimizing digital watermarking in print workflows
White paper: Optimizing digital watermarking in print workflows

About the author

Martin Bailey, CTO, Global Graphics Software

Martin Bailey, former distinguished technologist at Global Graphics Software, is currently the primary UK expert to the ISO committees maintaining and developing PDF and PDF/VT. He is the author of Full Speed Ahead: how to make variable data PDF files that won’t slow your digital press, a guide offering advice to anyone with a stake in variable data printing including graphic designers, print buyers, composition developers and users.

Further reading

  1. When to add a digital watermark in the print workflow

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Follow us on LinkedIn,  Twitter and YouTube

APS Engineering joins Global Graphics Software Partner Network

A warm welcome to our new Global Graphics Software Partner Network member: APS Engineering.

APS Engineering creates cutting-edge ink delivery systems for all stages of production for inkjet printing, additive manufacturing, and microdispensing. The company has worked together with Global Graphics Software to create the first OPC UA-enabled ink delivery system for SmartDFE, a full software and hardware stack that adds print to the fully automated smart factory.

SmartDFE™ is designed to be the heart of a fully automated manufacturing system and transform the role of the digital press in the smart print factory of the future.

OPC UA is the interoperability standard for the secure and reliable exchange of data in the industrial automation space and in other industries. It is platform-independent and ensures the seamless flow of information among devices from multiple vendors.

The OPC UA-enabled ink delivery system developed together with APS Engineering can communicate with anything in the industrial inkjet ecosystem. This means that the press can be monitored remotely from an iPad or from a browser on the desktop, or that data can be stored from the ink delivery system in a historical archive database to enable other functions like predictive maintenance.

In addition to fluid delivery systems, APS Engineering also offers printbar design and consulting services for custom projects. We look forward to working together in the future.

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MPI Tech joins the Global Graphics Software Partner Network

MPI Tech joins the Global Graphics Software Partner Network

Leading provider of document management and document output solutions MPI Tech has joined the Global Graphics Software Partner Network as a technology partner.

MPI Tech will enable Global Graphics Software’s Harlequin Direct™ and Fundamentals™ products to support AFP and IPDS  jobs. AFP (Advanced Function Presentation) is the most widely used format for high-speed transactional printing in many industries including finance, insurance, manufacturing, health care and education. IPDS (Intelligent Printer Data Stream) is the print description language (PDL) to print AFP documents online.

MPI Tech offers a range of solutions to process AFPDS and native AFP/IPDS at speeds over 6,000 ipm or convert them into the most popular PDL (PCL, PDF, PDF/A, PS etc) on almost every platform (Windows, AIX, Linux, Solaris, UNIX).

Justin Bailey, managing director of Global Graphics Software commented: “We’re pleased to welcome MPI Tech to our partner network. With a proven technology and know-how for processing AFP or IPDS print jobs, Global Graphics Software turns to MPI Tech as its ‘go-to partner’ when our customers require solutions for these transactional print data-streams.”

MPI Tech has been a licensee of Global Graphics technology for many years, using it for converting to, and processing, PostScript, PDF, and other PDLs.

If you’re interested in joining the Partner Network visit our website to find out more.

 

Image Access joins the Global Graphics Software Partner Network

Image Access offers book, flatbed, sheetfeed, duplex & art scanners for digitizing large format originals for archives, libraries, museums & industry.
Image Access offers book, flatbed, sheetfeed, duplex & art scanners for digitizing large format originals for archives, libraries, museums & industry.

Leading German scanner manufacturer Image Access GmbH has joined the Global Graphics Software Partner Network as a technology partner. The two companies began working together last year to develop a solution that would enable printer vendors to implement a new family of Image Access line scan bars called WideSCAN into their printers to support the creation of PrintFlat™ calibrations. The WideSCAN scan bars, together with PrintFlat, will dramatically increase print quality with minimal impact on overall production time.

PrintFlat technology maximizes the print quality of your printer by addressing common defects found in inkjet printing, including banding and stripes, as well as mottling, streaking and chaining. By adding PrintFlat to a print workflow it helps to boost printer sales and reduce support calls for OEMs by expanding the range of printable jobs and consistently achieving exceptional image quality.

For the PrintFlat process to work, printed target pages need to be scanned and the resultant image data fed into the PrintFlat solution. This is where the Image Access partnership comes into play: the WideSCAN scan bars will be available in various sizes in 12-inch increments, starting at 24 inches, and are the most compact and easy-to-use line scan bars in the industry.

Justin Bailey, managing director of Global Graphics Software commented: “Image Access are known for their experience and innovative use of emerging camera technologies and I’m really pleased to welcome them to our Partner Network. Introducing the new WideSCAN scan bar is a game changer for printer manufacturers. Now they will be able to implement the scan bar into the printer so that calibration and PrintFlat correction can all be done inline on the printer, making that device PrintFlat Ready.”

Image Access has manufactured wide format scanners, including brands Bookeye® and WideTEK®, for more than 25 years.

If you’re interested in joining the Partner Network visit our website to find out more.

 

RIP technology replacement achieves a faster development time, performance and quality benchmarks

 VIR Softech replaces RIP software for major print OEM and achieves a faster development time, performance and quality benchmarks

When a major print OEM switched from a market-leading RIP technology to the Harlequin RIP®, they achieved a faster development time and performance and quality benchmarks with a reduced bill of materials cost.

The Challenge
When a leading print OEM was looking to move to a PDF RIP technology that was easy to integrate and could help to achieve quality and performance benchmarks, it contacted Global Graphics Software Partner Network member, Vir Softech. As a RIP replacement service provider, the team at Vir Softech includes experienced engineers, with experts who have worked on all the major RIP technologies and understand the interfaces and functions they offer.

The Solution
Vir Softech recommended switching from the existing RIP technology to the Harlequin RIP from Global Graphics Software. Vir Softech had experience of using the Harlequin RIP in a similar project and knew it would meet the print OEM’s requirements. After a period of evaluation, including quality and performance benchmarking, the print OEM chose to use the Harlequin RIP.

Deepak Garg, managing director at Vir Softech explains the process: “The first step towards making the change was to assess and understand the various features and functions offered by the OEM’s print devices.”

After investigating, the team prepared a design document highlighting:

  • The OEM’s product features that interact with the RIP technology
  • How these product features are implemented
  • The various RIP interfaces which are used to implement these features and functions

Deepak continues: “Once the print OEM decided to go ahead, we prepared another document highlighting how to achieve these functions using the Harlequin interfaces. Some functions or features could not be implemented using Harlequin directly, such as special color handling, spot color replacement, extraction of cut data etc., so we contacted Global Graphics Software who was able to provide a design showing how these functions could be implemented using Harlequin. We then prepared a proof-of-concept, or working implementation, which demonstrated how the Harlequin RIP would work with the print OEM’s print devices. With Harlequin, such a prototype can usually be achieved within three to six months.”

The Result
Development time was much shorter than usual for such an ambitious undertaking, greatly reducing costs and enabling the print OEM to drive their revenue earlier than originally expected. The print OEM began using the Harlequin RIP, instantly meeting its quality and performance targets.

The print OEM says: “The Harlequin RIP helped us to move to native PDF printing and achieve the performance targets for our printers. Harlequin also helped us to reduce the lead time for getting our products to market while keeping development and maintenance costs low.”

About Vir Softech
Vir Softech is a technology start-up with expertise in imaging and computer vision technologies. With a strong focus in the Print & Publishing domain, its team of experienced engineers includes experts in all aspects of imaging and RIP technologies, such as job management, job settings, color management, screening, bands generation and management, VDP and imposition etc.

The team at Vir Softech are experts in configuring RIP technologies for better performance targeted for a specific market segment such as production, commercial, large format and enterprise printing. Some of the areas where Vir Softech can help include low resource environment, implementing OEM-specific unique functions using Harlequin RIP interfaces, making use of OEM ASIC for better performance, making use of OEM hardware accelerators for some of the computer-intensive RIP operations such as color conversion, image transformations, image decoding, rendering etc and achieving PPM target of MFP for ISO test suites.

To find out more about Vir Softech.