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Streaming print data directly to printhead electronics

Sending print data directIy to the printhead electronics makes it possible to achieve blistering speeds even with variable data when every item is different. Can you maintain optimum quality too? The benefit is significantly improved productivity because you can keep presses running with no waiting time. At TheIJC, Düsseldorf, October 2019, Tom Mooney discusses recent technical breakthroughs and describes how the answer lies in a software engine that can obtain blistering speeds by driving data directly to the electronics whilst correcting for common quality defects.

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Streaming print data directly to printhead electronics

  1. 1. The IJC Dusseldorf, 29th October 2019Tom Mooney, Product Manager Streaming print data directly to printhead electronics
  2. 2. Agenda ▪ About Global Graphics Software ▪ Inkjet quality: problem solved! • Mitigating chaining, mottling artifacts • Solving the banding problem ▪ Now, what about speed? • Customer demands for driving up the data rate • New developments to supply print data at press speed ▪ Questions + resources Copyright © Global Graphics Software Limited 2019
  3. 3. About Global Graphics Software ▪ A developer of software for inkjet printing • Head Office and R & D in Cambridge, UK • US office in Sarasota, FL • Technical office in Tokyo, Japan ▪ A Global Graphics PLC company; sister to: • Meteor Inkjet • Develops electronics, software, tools and services for industrial inkjet systems. • • URW type foundry • Designers and developers of digital fonts and font technology • Copyright © Global Graphics Software Limited 2019
  4. 4. High-performance, market leading products Harlequin, the fastest RIP engine available, keeps your Bill Of Materials down because you’ll need less processing power Powerful independent screening engine SDK/desktop app gives high- quality at high-speed for inkjet by mitigating artefacts. PrintFlat removes banding artefacts in inkjet output by correcting the problem of non-uniformity from inkjet printheads. Agile up-stream tools for viewing and manipulation of PDF and for the creation of custom pre-press workflows The building blocks essential to creating your customized Digital Front End (DFE) Copyright © Global Graphics Software Limited 2019
  5. 5. Global Graphics Software: a selection of customers Plus many others under NDA Copyright © Global Graphics Software Limited 2019
  6. 6. Inkjet quality: problem solved.
  7. 7. Mottling is most common on less absorbent substrates, often caused during drying/curing Micro effects Streaking is most common on more absorbent substrates, caused by ink drops coalescing on the substrate surface
  8. 8. Solving the problems ▪ Vendors should make reasonable efforts to tune inks, wave forms, encoders etc. ▪ After that software is usually the fastest and most effective solution ▪ Micro effects • Advanced Inkjet Screens ▪ All for both single-pass and scanning head printers
  9. 9. Macro effects ▪ Variation within a head • Commonly a ‘smile’ shape • Caused by pressure or voltage changes ▪ Variation between heads • Especially as heads become field replaceable ▪ Head wear Density ONE HEAD
  10. 10. Correction in software gives maximum quality ▪ Macro effects • PrintFlat applied during ScreenPro processing ▪ Very fine granularity • Can address every nozzle separately • On any head/electronics ▪ Almost instant once output is measured • Can be automated for closed-loop correction ▪ Doesn’t affect • Jetting stability or head lifetime • Warranty compliance • Ink pressure and timing/drop speed variation • Ink coalescence on the substrate • Halftoning *images blurred to make the density variation more obvious Corrected in software Original Blurred Original Blurred Uncorrected Copyright © Global Graphics Software Limited 2019
  11. 11. Before… and after Copyright © Global Graphics Software Limited 2019
  12. 12. Why is ScreenPro significant? High-quality at ultra high-speed ▪ Works on any inkjet press ▪ With any workflow ▪ With any ink or substrate ▪ With any combination of printheads and electronics The only solution to improve inkjet output quality that is generally available to any inkjet press manufacturer In use by multiple inkjet press vendors in industrial inkjet markets Copyright © Global Graphics Software Limited 2019
  13. 13. Recipient of a 2018 and 2019 InterTech Award Awarded by the Printing Industries of America Copyright © Global Graphics Software Limited 2019 ▪ ScreenPro ▪ PrintFlat
  14. 14. Customers are demanding more from Digital Print Copyright © Global Graphics Software Limited 2019
  15. 15. RIP and Screen “Direct” to the Device • Printing variable data jobs where every page or item is different is here now. • Inkjet is becoming an industrial process in a production workflow. • Variable data is no longer just barcodes or text regions, it can encompass the whole print area. • Key to success is 24/7 uptime and running at full speed maximising return on investment. • Resolutions of devices, print heads and bars are rising (e.g. 600dpi to 1200 dpi, quadrupling raster data). • Devices are wider and faster (up to 4 metres wide and over 300 m/min). • RIPing and screening offline to disk and then sending them to the press is becoming a performance and storage capacity bottle neck. • The solution is to RIP and Screen direct to the device.
  16. 16. RIPing “Direct” to the device • PDFs can vary greatly in complexity if uncontrolled. • The RIP becomes a critical component running the device and not a pre-press process. • It can be hard to know what hardware to choose to achieve the rated speed of the device without increasing impractically the bill of materials cost. • Achieving all of this on current PC hardware at the device speeds, resolutions, widths, etc. requires integrated innovation between multiple components. • Having flexibility to choose the right hardware (head and driver board) for the job can be key to introducing digital inkjet technology to a new market.
  17. 17. Driving data “direct” to the electronics Copyright © Global Graphics Software Limited 2019
  18. 18. Direct Architecture (Harlequin and ScreenPro) Shared Memory Controller RIP Farm RIP ScreenPro Hardware.dll Hardware (Driver electronics and print heads) Farm RIP Farm RIP Farm RIP ScreenPro ScreenPro Pack Pack Stream Output Scheduler Contone Rasters PDF Job Direct Direct
  19. 19. Mako Streamline Direct ▪ Pre-Process designed to produce PDFs • that are fast to RIP • without any loss of quality. • Deterministic (predictable RIPing speed) • Mark objects that can be cached by Harlequin Direct • OptimiseVariable Data Jobs • Fix poorly constructed PDFs • Down-sample large images • Flatten complex transparency • Convert to device colour-space ▪ Support other PDLs • PCL • Postscript • IJPDS
  20. 20. Harlequin Direct • RIPs PDFs directly to hardware at device speed (including screening and colour management) • Sample front end that displays metrics and allows it to be tested prior to integration into a PDF workflow (Direct DFE). • PDF workflow agnostic • Integrated into our Fundamentals PDF workflow • Windows and Linux (Reduce bill of materials) • Head driver electronics agnostic • PrintFlat ready
  21. 21. ScreenPro Direct • Takes contone rasters (e.g.TIFF) from a RIP and halftone screen directly to the hardware (driver electronics and print heads) at device speed. • RIP and workflow agnostic • Head driver electronics agnostic • PrintFlat ready. • Windows and Linux (reducing BOM). • An ideal stepping stone to ripping directly: • Inherently deterministic as the content of the contone raster doesn’t vary the processing time • Can be considered when changing the RIP would be too disruptive to the customer or workflow
  22. 22. The result “For a workflow to be viable, it has to be able to process and send full color, fully variable work at a rate that supports the press printing, nearly continuously, at high speed to produce hundreds of thousands of linear feet or meters weekly.This was previously a challenge with the industry leading production speeds of Digital Series HD at 240 fpm.” Peter Rathje, Senior Manager of digital press solutions for Mark Andy. Copyright © Global Graphics Software Limited 2019
  23. 23. Benefits of Direct Products
  24. 24. Highly optimised open architecture • Solid, stable and proven technology • Unrivalled output fidelity (PrintFlat applied at device speed) • Designed to deliver the extreme data rates to the electronics with optimal efficiency (over 4Gb/s). • Development by Specialist Engineers • Fully automated testing, unit tests and integration tests • Fully automated performance and regression testing • Flexible • Select a ready made end to end package or pick and choose components • Develop your own value added solutions • Not tied to one supplier Copyright © Global Graphics Software Limited 2019
  25. 25. Questions? More information: Copies of resources on stand A16