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Making the UP3I digital-print connection

Sep 1, 2004 12:00 AM

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Most graphic-arts professionals have heard of JDF. But only a few are familiar with an initiative targeting digital printers: the universal printer pre- and post-processing interface (UP3I).

The UP3I interface standard helps users integrate and control all prepress, press and postpress systems' data. Functions such as automatic job setup and synchronization, document finishing control, error recovery and waste management are all controlled from a single point.

Six vendors tackle inline connectivity

Postpress vendors Océ, Strålfors and Hunkeler initially conceived the UP3I interface for inline feeding and finishing devices connected to roll-fed printers. But users wanted a broader interface that would enable inline connectivity of pre- and postpress equipment with sheetfed printers as well as form the basis for control and communication of near-line devices with eventual connectivity to a JDF workflow.

Soon after the inaugural UP3I group formed, IBM joined, followed by Duplo and Xerox. This past February, the core group of six vendors created a joint venture called UP3I Limited to promote UP3I for end-to-end communication of system data between the printer and the pre- and postprocessing hardware components of an integrated digital-print line.

UP3I's open standard allows for a wider choice of compatible equipment from different suppliers. A printer that starts with an unwinder, digital press and cutter easily could upgrade with a bookletmaker and eventually add mailing equipment.

Operators' learning curves will be shorter because device interfaces will have a common look and feel. Also, more features and functions are available, such as unattended operation, cold start, automated setup, extended operating periods, improved job integrity routines and self-maintenance cycles.

Since UP3I supports CIP4, integration with standard workflows, such as JDF, is seamless. UP3I also can help ensure that new equipment can link to existing management information systems.

UP3I is here today

At Drupa, Océ exhibited a fully integrated system comprising a VarioPrint 5160 printer, a stitcher and stacker from another supplier, and a Duplo bookletmaker. All of these units were running under the control of a single-user interface. In the future, the intention is to extend the specifications so that the UP3I interface is not just about signals and plugs: It also will cover infeed and outfeed heights, and eventually docking devices.

UP3I offers improved productivity and efficiency of the whole digital-print process. It will help users adapt to varying run lengths, reduce costs and increase profits. For more information, see

Dominic Quennell is vice president of global marketing, Duplo Corp. Contact him at

Some UP3I FAQs

What is UP3I?

UP3I stands for “universal printer pre- and postpress processing interface.” It's an information backbone for a digital-printing line. Through UP3I, all elements in a line are set up and coordinated for the print job. The whole line, consisting of individual modules, behaves as one coordinated entity. Advantages include reduced setup time and controlled recovery of damaged forms.

How does the UP3I initiative relate to the CIP4/JDF initiative?

There is a common group from both organizations working together. JDF/CIP4 describes job-related parameters while UP3I controls print and finishing processes.

Can you connect existing/legacy equipment to a UP3I system?

Technically it is possible that field upgrade conversions will be available to convert legacy equipment to be UP3I native. UP3I device availability will come from individual manufacturers, and this availability has not been specified yet.

Where is the UP3I manager installed? In the printer controller? On the PC for the UP3I manager? On a server?

The UP3I manager can be in any of these or even have some of the manager functions divided among these different devices. The manager does not have to be a separate device.

Do UP3I finishing operations originate from the print job data stream or job tickets?

UP3I specification allows finishing operation commands to originate from both the print job data stream and separate job tickets. Usually, the print job data stream is more appropriate for specifying finishing operations that occur at the copy level, and job tickets are more appropriate for finishing operations that occur at the job level.