Harlequin has supplied OEM partners with Version 12.1 of its Rip, an update which includes features to benefit packaging companies and linking to new standards in process descriptions.
This will make end to end automation slicker and more efficient. Currently there is n agreement in the instructions for cutting and creasing, nor for the sequence of these instructions. Harmonising these will reduce the need to create bespoke interfaces between different devices and software from Photoshop to Cad applications.
“The new version introduces processing steps bringing together instructions for fold, die line and cutting and before running the file, the converter has to check what name the customer has used,” says Global Graphics chief technology officer Martin Bailey. “And then he has to create the software configuration for the Rip to handle this securely. And then you have to make sure that the data displays correctly for the main print run, showing the information for production, but not on the final printing plate when nobody wants the marks or names displayed.”
Previously Bailey explains this has been a manual step, running trials with each customer to ensure consistency and locking that information into the job metadata. Now the ISO is developing standard ways to describe the data “which removes the need to handle each file differently” according to Bailey.
The Rip also includes what Bailey calls seamless screening. This ensures that for endless jobs, say fabric or wallpaper with a repeating pattern and printed on a cylinder or sleeve, there is a match across the seam where the head of the job and the tail meet with no indication of a seam or zipline.
It has included support for wider set of file formats, some for proofing, some from legacy files using file formats that have been superseded.
There is a processing speed increase (“not because speed in itself is the goal” says Bailey) which will mean less hardware will be needed to process the file and drive the output device. This is needed as resolutions on inkjet presses move from 600dpi to 1200dpi and requiring four times the data handling as previously. These demand data throughputs of 45Gb/sec and to maintain for variable data printing at full speed on a roll to roll inkjet press as packaging converters begin to consider this kind of technology.
Users needing more power will take advantage of the scalability of the Harlequin technology by running a number of renderers in parallel under the control of a host unit. “In certain applications the new Rip is multiples of ten faster,” says Bailey.
The Rip will reach the market once incorporated by the OEM into their front ends. Judging by previous releases, the first will be announced within weeks.