Global Graphics’ DirectTM software, announced at the end of April, is sure to be a hot topic during Inkjet Insight’s Inkjet Innovation Week kicking off today.
This new “graphics pipeline” software enables data to be sent directly to the printhead electronics, bypassing the need to read from or write to a disk. Direct reduces image processing times, while handling large print volumes and speeding up the time to print.
Press resolutions have increased from 600dpi to 1200dpi and even 2400dpi, as speeds have ramped up to 1000 feet per minute/300 meters per minute. Added to this, are extended gamut inks with multi-level screening up to seven drop sizes on inkjet presses with wide web widths or large sheet sizes. Every drop of every color represents data that must be transmitted at high speed.
That’s a lot of data that, when passed through even the fastest drives, is still processed at a fraction of regular point-to-point transfer rates. Keep in mind that the average sustained speed of the fastest hard drives across the industry is 1,000-1,200 megabytes per second. Even the fastest drives can be a barrier to optimal print production speeds, and many print environments don’t use the fastest drives.
“Direct smashes through this barrier to provide a future-proof solution to both OEMs and their end customers,” said Direct Product Manager Ian Bolton. “This is achieved through tight and optimized integration of our flagship components in a pipeline that requires no intermediate files on disk, driving output directly to the printhead electronics at ultra-high data rates.”
Direct is a fully integrated product portfolio featuring Harlequin RIP® technology, Mako™ for file optimization, plus ScreenPro™ and PrintFlat™ for inkjet digital printing providing tight integration with printhead drive electronics. Integration also encompasses software from Meteor Inkjet and workflow for labels and packaging from HYBRID Software.
“Advancements in image processing technology are critical to the growth of inkjet to support wider, faster and higher resolution presses with multi-up, cross web, complex image processing requirements,” notes Mary Schilling, Partner with Inkjet Insight.
Taking out the data middle man allows both OEMs and the end user to utilize all the speed and quality potential of their inkjet printer to its fullest. “In using Direct, OEMs can therefore get their new presses to market more quickly,” Bolton said, “and end customers benefit from being able to print any type of job in the future, where every page or item might be different.”
Every bit of digital workflow streamlining in the age of Industry 4.0, from PDF to final product, increases a company’s profit margin. Reducing these touchpoints and increasing production speed relies heavily on software.
“The move from traditional to digital presses brings with it a much greater dependency on software,” Bolton said. “OEMs with dedicated software development teams already use our core technologies to build very powerful systems that support fully variable data. The Direct product range means that any printer manufacturer can now use them too, regardless of their in-house software development capability. Additionally, the integrated versions of Harlequin and ScreenPro can be optimized for the Direct pipeline.”
This is not just important for a new press bill of materials but also for upgrades to existing presses that bring higher speeds and resolutions requiring more processing hardware, ultimately reducing the overall cost.
David Zwang, technology editor for WhatTheyThink and Inkjet Innovation Week contributor, sees Direct software as a game-changer in the industry. “Global Graphics has developed the first direct-to-printhead processing pipeline using desktop class CPUs creating a future-proof solution to keep up with the latest production inkjet presses,” Zwang said. “This is a very significant development and is truly a game-changer.
Direct’s ability to increase productivity in current uses also offers the opportunity to open up new inkjet capabilities and industries. “Direct will bring the capability for mass personalization to all markets, because we can support the ultra-high data rates required for every page or item in the production run to be different,” Bolton said. “We envision significant benefits for those producing wallpapers, carpets and other textiles, for instance.”
Learn more about Global Graphics’ Direct innovative software and other technologies during the “Essential Software for Inkjet Innovators” I will be delivering on Thursday June 18 along with Inkjet Insight contributor and inkjet evangelist, Pat McGrew as part of Inkjet Innovation Week.