Global Graphics has addressed one of the key barriers potentially holding back adoption of inkjet printing.
The UK company, which last week became a winner of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, has announced Direct, a new style of software intended to drive high speed, high resolution, high productivity inkjet printers that are being announced or already reaching the market.
This combines Ripping, screening and the ability to drive a print head without having to write processed files to disk for the press to retrieve them at the point of printing. The date flow rates to and from the disk, either a hard drive or SSD, has become a barrier as printhead resolutions have increased, as firing rates have grown and as the number of nozzles that need to be controlled has exploded. Each requires an exponential increase in the date generated.
Moving from 600dpi to 1200dpi means a four fold increase in the amount of data; add in wider print widths, additional colours in packaging applications and faster printheads and the data handling needed increases drastically.
“This is the first fully integrated product line that removes the need to Rip ahead of printing,” says Eric Worrall, VP product management at Global Graphics Software. It combines the technology in Streamline to optimise a PDF ahead of the Harlequin PDF Rip and the screening of ScreenPro and PrintFlat, where applicable. These will then drive the printhead electronic directly, an example being the Meteor NozzleFix technology that resides in a sister company in the group.
This will become a module that will allow potential press developers to exploit the speed and power of the Direct software with Meteor’s electronics. The Global Graphics software includes feedback to link to MIS and other Industry 4.0 applications in a move towards a fully automated production system.
“With higher resolutions, press speeds pushing to 300m/minute, additional print bars to extend the gamut and wider arrays, data rate becomes a technical barrier,” says Worrall. “We need to provide our OEMs with a complete software engine rather than separate components that they have to integrate.”
This will accelerate press developments and the ability to take advantage of higher resolution and faster printheads.
Global Graphics has built Direct to use high speed processors from desktop class PCs, rather than servers in order to comply with this, using multiple cores to share the load of processing through the Scheduler developer for the Harlequin. A graphic user interface completes the emphasis on usability.
While Global Graphics never names customers that are working on a new technology and has been in the past frustrated that OEMs do not publicly recognise its role, it is working with a number of companies that might be interested in Direct. These include: HP, Memjet, Canon, Durst, Roland DG, Delphax and MarkAndy.
Mark Andy has announced that Direct delivers a 50% lift in productivity on its HD presses. This is because the press no longer needs to wait for a job to be Ripped and written to a disc before downloading to the press. “It can take one hour to preRip and prescreen a job before running the press for an hour,” says Global Graphics CTO Martin Bailey. “This takes the PDF and runs that direct to press for that hour.
“Take a 330mm wide label press where the requirement is to run at 100m/minute at 1200dpi for CMYKOGW colours as many press suppliers are working towards – it needs data at 8.6Gb/second which is ten times as much data as a 70m/min press with 600dpi heads when the fastest an SSD drive will supply data is at .5Gb/second. Demands are getting to that level.
“Growth in data rates is faster than growth in computer speeds.”
The benefit is not restricted to label presses. As corrugated printing, packaging, textile, wallpapers and industrial printing expand, the requirement for high speed data delivery increases. Global Graphics hopes Direct will become the essential tool to meet this requirement.
The speed of writing to and reading from digital storage media is a barrier to driving ever more sophisticated, faster and higher quality inkjet presses, but this is no longer a problem, says Global Graphics, which has developed Direct to tackle this issue.