Danny Mertens, Xeikon
Our last article in this series focusing on the transaction and transpromo printing markets, we focused on how digital technology can improve workflow performance. Here we look at how digital technology can fix data processing bottlenecks.
When we discussed the issue of productivity bottlenecks with some of Xeikon’s expert users, there was consensus that the “weakest link” is downstream in the workflow, past the RIP.
Per Larsson, sales and marketing manager at Parajett, thinks the real bottleneck has become the finishing process.
“While it is important, it is not only printing speed that matters to overall productivity. We use large images, lots. And these take time to process. It is no use having a printer that can print 200 ppm if your RIP can only produce 100 ppm. All the elements of the workflow need to be geared for one another, the RIP, the printing speed, and the online finishing,” Larsson says. “The finishing is very important to us – we use folding and self-stitching. The finishing equipment should have the same speed as the printer. The weakest link used to be upstream, the RIP could not follow. Now the RIP is no longer a problem and we have to focus on the finishing.”
Xeikon was one of the first to develop fully integrated digital workflows. The latest generation of Xeikon’s X-800 digital front-end is the result of continuous improvement and innovation. Increasing volumes and increasing quality demands have caused data volumes to soar, but with the X-800, data processing will definitely not be the bottleneck.
The X-800 digital front-end enables the implementation of fully automated workflows in any production environment and has been developed with productivity and performance in mind. The heart of this front-end is an object-based streamer for fast and reliable streaming. Chase RIP-ing or RIP-while-printing allows customers to already start printing a job while part of it is still being RIP-ed, or start preparing and processing a new job while the previous one is still being printed. Intelligent load balancing and parallel RIP-ing and compression also speed up the processing. The streamer being object-based, all the individual objects from a page are kept separate until they are actually printed, which is the basis for a powerful post-RIP imposition function, offering maximum flexibility for last minute corrections and changes. In addition, the page picking functionality allows you to combine already RIP-ed page information from previous jobs into a new job, again saving precious time.
The X-800 fluently processes PPML and PPML/VDX files allowing you to easily manage, process, and print complex variable data jobs. Being object-based, the X-800 also makes optimal use of reusable objects, which greatly enhances the efficiency and speed of such jobs, while fast and scalable RIP-ing provides all the power you need to tackle even the most demanding jobs.
For complex transpromo applications, the Xeikon IPDS Controller has removed any bottlenecks left. It handles the IPDS input data stream directly without any conversions in-between and allows RIP-ing on the fly, enabling us to maintain rated engine speeds.
Looking at today’s digital workflow, it is fair to conclude that the remaining bottlenecks are being pushed downstream in natural progression, as a result of the ongoing dynamics of technological development.
In the next article of this series we will be discussing several ecological aspects of digital printing.
Danny Mertens is director of segment marketing and business development, document printing, Xeikon.
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