The SmartDFE for labels and packaging comprises PDF editing, layout and automated Variable Data Printing (VDP) with HYBRID Stepz and CLOUDFLOW, job cost estimation and production controls. These connect to the Smart Factory using Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture (OPC UA), rasterisation and screening using Harlequin Direct directly to the printhead datapath from either Meteor Inkjet or Xitron.
Global Graphics Software, Hybrid Software, Meteor Inkjet and Xitron have all collaborated to create this smart digital front end (DFE) for labels and packaging applications to transform the role of the digital press in the smart print factory of the future.
The SmartDFE is designed to be part of a fully automated manufacturing solution supporting Industry 4.0 telematics and MIS integration, plus connectivity with automated manufacturing lines via OPC UA. It brings together in one powerful solution the creation of optimised print-ready PDF files; workflow and job automation to connect with enterprise IT systems; RIPping; screening and optimised image quality. Via Harlequin Direct, it drives the print data directly to the printheads at blistering speeds through Meteor software and electronics or through Xitron’s Navigator DFE platform. It meets the need for fully variable data, gives complete control of the print workflow and provides valuable information for QA and inspection, press maintenance and stock control.
Mike Rottenborn, Global Graphics Group CEO commented, ‘Digital printing presses are getting smarter all the time and innovation is especially strong in the labels and packaging segment. These presses need a ‘smart’ digital front end to take their place in today’s smart print factories, and this is challenging for many OEM developers of digital packaging presses. Global Graphics has developed SmartDFE to simplify the integration of the DFE and the digital press and reduce time to market for our OEM customers.’
‘SmartDFE relies on tight, high-speed integration, communication and control between components from the job creation all the way to the printheads,’ added Nick de Roeck, Global Graphics Group CTO. ‘It requires the ability to collect detailed data from an individual press and share with the wider factory and to generate knowledge gathered from the data to predict and control the press. All of this capability is now available from Global Graphics and gives us and our customers a unique position in the market.’
SmartDFE™ is designed to be the heart of a fully automated manufacturing system and transform the role of the digital press in the smart print factory of the future.
‘SmartDFE gives you everything you need to add label and packaging printing to any industrial production scenario,’ said Eric Worrall, VP of products and services at Global Graphics Software. ‘It provides a complete single source software and electronics stack that does everything from job creation through to printheads. Our Artemis Print Operator AI builds print knowledge into the software to keep the workflow running at maximum speed and quality. We have also joined the OPC Foundation, the organisation responsible for the development and maintenance of the OPC Industrial Interoperability Standard, so our SmartDFE can connect print to the smart factory.’
‘SmartDFE will be a godsend for smart factories requiring large industrial inkjet print systems capable of streaming variable data jobs,’ said Clive Ayling, the managing director of Meteor Inkjet. ‘The integration of Meteor’s proven electronics and software within SmartDFE means that print system builders can select from the widest range of printheads while benefitting from Meteor’s exceptional technical support service.’
‘Full automation is the logical next step for Navigator support of presses using Memjet printheads,’ said Karen Crews, president of Xitron. ‘Our base of installed systems has exploded over the last two years and the opportunity to enhance new presses with OPC UA connectivity presents us with a huge technological leap forward.’