Production-based Workflow

Production Job
Automation > Force Print
Automation > Hotfolder

Availability: Produce, Create, Create+

One of the central functions of the Workflow, which is typically used in every print production, is transferring the print data to the printer after being managed by the color mangement system via the RIP. In this article we'll learn about,

  • how Production-based Workflow methods can be utilized
  • which range of functions are provided when using these methods

1. Application

When applying a Production Based Workflow, the following steps typically have to be carried out:

  • Transferring data to the Workflow (uploading)
  • Assigning an Output Configuration
  • Imposing print items
  • Rendering and sending print data to the printer

To ensure that the color profiles required for colorimetrically correct rendering are available we need to confirm: (a) all Inks, substrates and printers used have been created in the Workflow and (b) profiles have been created for all applied substrate-printer combinations.

1.1. Uploading Data

Data can be uploaded to the Workflow in the following ways:

Production Job – Print data can be uploaded when creating a Production Job. The user has full control over naming conventions, production times and diverse job data such as the number of pages, copies and so forth.

Force Print – This option also creates a Production Job, but less information needs to be initially entered versus creating a normal Production Job. Unlike when creating a Production Job where the user has to upload data and then render and then send to printer, the rendering process can be triggered immediately with Force printing. This enables you to quickly upload print data to the Workflow, render it and print it immediately.

Hotfolder – By setting up a Hotfolder, recurring processes can be automated. Data that is copied into a Hotfolder is represented internally as a unique type of Production Job according to the selected parameters and, if necessary, rendered and transferred to the printer as well. The user can very quickly finish jobs with recurring print data when using Hotfolders to automatically transfer them to the printer.

1.2. Checking and Normalising Data

Each time print data is uploaded, it is automatically checked based on the default Preflight profile. In order to speed up the Preflight process, a Preflight profile can be set up specifically for a Hotfolder, which executes a so called »NoGo« checklist. In the case of the Force Print function and Production Jobs, a complete Preflight profile check is carried out and the print data is also normalized.

Normalisation automatically corrects errors in the print data and forwards information that is necessary in the Workflow for further processing. Since the normalised file can differ from the original file, the original file is saved unchanged and the normalized file is saved as the first version. Since a Production Job is always created independently during the upload process, the Preflight result can be viewed at any time under the Print Data tab in an open Production Job. Based on this information, you can decide whether your print data is suitable for output or not.

1.3. Managing Production Jobs

The search for Production Jobs and/or print data can be leveraged by using the Filter option, as well as searching and sorting with Lists without having to click through endless hierarchical directories. Production Jobs can be deleted or archived at any time.

Filtering in the list view allows results to be restricted by: material, production date, delivery date, production order type, printer and status, largely simplifying the process of finding Production Jobs. If the user needs to view a specific Production Job on a regular basis the user can create and save a filter for that specific Job as needed.

If you know exactly which Production Job you want to Search for, the quickest way to search is by Production Job number, Production Job description, comment, substrate and printer. A search can also be applied to data records that are already filtered (using a combination of Search and Filter functions).

1.4. Determining the Output Configuration

If a Production Job has been created, the Output Configuration can be changed according to the requirements of the customer or other desired output results. This is necessary for example if the print must be suddenly produced on another machine, or on another material. The output configuration can be changed using the Output Configuration tab.

The user can define the following settings in the Output Configuration:

  • Printer – determines which printer should be used
  • Print Configuration – these settings determines printer resolution, glossy or matt, White Over/Under, etc.
  • Substrate Definition – specific materials, width/length, weight, etc.
  • Color Policy – depending on the Motif, a different Color Policy can also be selected for optimised for output or to reduce the Total Ink Coverage.
  • Color Correction – can be used for color reproduction & proof printing, color adjustment of the print data can be performed by adding Color Correction Curves.

1.5. Create the Imposition

If the print data of a Production Job has already been Imposed, this step can be omitted. Imposing is necessary when one or more print items in a Production Job are to be assembled together on a predefined substrate size and may also need print Marks.

the Impose Method needed is highly dependent on the desired results for the print item. There are essentially two methods available in the Impose editor:

  1. Manual Mode – Individual motifs can be manually positioned and saved on a predefined Substrate size.
  2. Rule-based Mode – Individual motifs can be applied based on a set of rules. With Rule-based impositions, the following modes can be used:
    • Step & Repeat – Repetition of columns containing print items with specific spacing values entered.
    • Nesting – Placing of the maximum amount of print items on a specific Substrate size.
    • Ganging – Optimal placement of print items of different sizes on a specified Substrate (not yet implemented)
    • Tiling – This splits large print items into strips or tiles of specific size for reassembly at a later date.

Changing between Rule-based Mode and Manual Mode is possible at any time. Be aware, that changing from Manual Mode to Rule-based Mode will undoubtably change the layout of the print items.

 

1.6. Profiling – Color Setup

Creating and using Color Setups is an individual choice that the user should discuss and determine before beginning production work. Our recommendation, is to create individual profiles for every Printer-Substrate combination you plan on using as this will most certainly provide the best results.

To carry out and complete a Profile, the Inks, Printer and Substrates must be created or imported. You can find out how to do this in the respective articles under the Administration section.

The profiling process is divided into Calibration (linearization) and Profiling. Depending on whether or not the printer has Light Inks, profiling is carried out in five steps:

  1. Pre-Linearization – Using a printer and substrate dependent Pre-Linearization to improve the measurement results when density values increase too quickly.
  2. Transition – Splitting the existing dark and light areas of a Process Color – usually Cyan, Magenta, and/or Black – for output to reduce visible grain in light tones.
  3. Linearization – Calculate the Linearization curve to compensate for non-linear curves.
  4. Ink Limit – Technical limit of the maximum ink application possible for the printer-substrate combination. This minimizes contamination of the printerheads, also ensures proper curing / drying of inks.
  5. Profile – Measures the color range of the substrate-printing combination and total color output of the printer. Profiles for different applications are created from relevant measurement chart data.

If you are profiling a printing system with Gamut-enhancing Colors (e.g. CMYK-OVG), further subsets can be created without re-measuring:

  • a profile without gamut expanding color (e.g. CMYK)
  • a profile with a gamut expanding color (e.g. CMYK-O)
  • a profile using black only.

1.7. Starting the Render process

If the Production Job has been assigned an Output Configuration and an optional Imposition, the Production Job simply needs to be sent to the printer. This process can be carried out automatically using Hotfolders or the Force Print function. An alternative is manually sending the print data to the Printer using the Send to Printer dialog.

In the Send to Printer dialog, the user can also choose typical parameters for rendering. This includes:

  • Number of Pages – how many repetitions are to be printed
  • Color Space Conversion – determine whether the color calculation is to be made via an intermediate color space or directly and which color correction must be made at which point.
  • Destination – determines for which printer and in which target directory the data should be saved.
  • Size – determine which scale factor should be applied or whether the output should be rotated.
  • Variable Data – determine the start/end variables.
  • Finishing – a specific cutter can be selected here.
  • Inprint – choose from a selection of Inprints typically used in the Print Industry.

If a Production Job has already been transferred to a printer, it can be rendered again at any time using the Reprint Job button. This means that complex Impositions, especially with variable data printing, are not re-rendered, but are simply resent to the printer based on the existing Imposition data.

1.8. RIP

When ripping the Production Job, the data is calculated Colorimetrically and transferred to the printer in our proprietary file format. Parallel rendering is supported. The amount of parallel processes that are started depends (a) on the render engine used and (b) on the Workflow License.

  • Standard Render Engine – parallel processing of render processes is only limited by memory (RAM) and the set number of render processes.
  • Harlequin Host Renderer – up to four render processes can be rendered in parallel. Render times for individual processes should not significantly slow down. The main reason for slow throughput could be a slow network connection or slow write speeds on the target computers/printers.

After rendering, all information including Ink Consumption for this Production Job is displayed under the Print Statistics tab.

Increasing Render Speeds

If you are (a) transferring many individual print jobs to different printing systems at the same time, or you have to (b) render a multi-page PDF under time constraints, you can double the rendering speed at any time by purchasing a Speed Upgrade license. This means that up to four additional parallel RIP instances can be used on multi-core servers.

However, you should check in advance whether the network and/or the write speed of the hard disks on the target system (printer) are not causing a bottleneck. An increase in the rendering speed will only be noticeable when several print jobs are processed in parallel, but not when individual print jobs are rendered one after the other.

If you have any questions, please contact Durst Customer Service.

Detailed information on how to work with these features can be found in the articles on Hotfolders, Force Printing and Production Jobs.

2. Available Functions

The following functions are provided in the Workflow so that the production methods described above can be utilised:

  1. Production Job – Production Jobs are probably one of the most common and most used features of the Workflow.
    • Create, Edit and Delete
    • access to all production-relevant parameters
    • Searching and Filtering
    • viewing results under the Print Item > Print Data tab
    • applying diverse Fixups related to the addition of White, Die-Cutting, etc.
    • the creation of color definitions for the calculation of Spot Colors
    • uploading and viewing additional data under either the Files tab or Additional Data tab
    • display and set the Status for individual print items and Orders.
    • Tagging of Print Items and Production Jobs, Orders, Articles
    • setting the output configuration under the Output Configuration tab
    • the ability to create Impositions including the storage of Impose Templates, Templates can be selected at any time in the Impose Editor as well as in Hotfolders and in the Force Print dialog
    • Displaying print statistics related to Production Jobs/Orders under the Print Statistics tab
  2. Automation > Force Print – Quickly upload print data to create a Production Job with or without simultaneously starting the RIP process. All options are available in the Force Print dialog.
  3. Automation > Hotfolder – Automated processing of print data to create Production Jobs with or without simultaneously starting the RIP process.
    • Creating and editing processing instructions for Hotfolders
      • Specification of the target directory (destination) at the printer including which data types are to be processed.
      • Specification of the polling interval for the Hotfolder including settings to check the Hotfolder parameters
      • Access to all parameters for the Output Configuration
      • dependent on the purchased License access to all Cutter parameters
    • start or stop selected Hotfolders
  4. Color > Color Correction – Color Corrections are added additionally to Color Profile calculations.
    • Creating a Curve-Based Color Correction under the Based on Curves tab
    • Creating an Image-Based Color Correction in Adobe Photoshop under the Based on Image tab
  5. Color > Manage Spot Colors – Upload and create Spot Color Definitions
    • Uploading .acb or CxF color libraries which are system-wide under the Libraries tab
    • Creating, Editing and Deleting system-wide Spot Color Definitions under the Spot Color Definitions tab
    • Creating, Editing and Deleting Substrate-specific Spot Color Definitions under the Spot Color Definitions tab
  6. Color > Color Setup – Create Color Profiles using all the profiling steps provided for that specific printer.
    • Creating, Editing and Deleting Profiles
    • Create a CMYK Profile using a CMYK + Gamut Expanding Color Profile
    • Create a Pure Black Profile based on the CMYK Profile
    • Access to the Gray Correction tab under Color > Color Setup > Calculate Substrate Profiles
    • Access to all parameters available for limiting the Total Ink Coverage, Black Point and Maximum Black.
  7. Color > Profile Templates – Profile templates which define color calculation instructions.
    • Create, Edit and Delete Substrate Profiling Templates
    • Create, Edit and Delete Re-Separation Templates
  8. Administration > Substrate – Management of all Substrates
    • Importing Substrates created at the Printer
    • Creating, Editing, and Deleting Substrate Categories, Substrates and Substrate Definitions
  9. Administration > Printer – Printer management
    • Creating, Editing, and Deleting a Printer
    • Creating Color Configurations to be applied to the output
    • Creating and Editing Print Configurations (resolutions, speed etc.) to be applied to the output
  10. Administration > Users – Management and administration of Users and Roles
    • Creating, Editing, and Deactivating Users
    • Create, Edit and Delete Roles (restricted access to available menu items)
    • Assigning Roles to Users
  11. Administration > Settings – Define the basic settings of the Workflow
    • Defining the basic settings under the General tab
    • Define the basic settings for Color Management including the Working Color Space definitions
    • Defining the basic settings for the Impose Editor under the Impose tab
    • Defining the basic settings for Pre-flighting under the Preflight tab
    • Defining the basic settings for Tags under the Tags tab
  12. Administration > File Management - Define access to external directories/folders
    • Create, Edit and Delete SMB Host entries
  13. Administration > Scheduler – Fully or semi-automated cleanup tasks
    • Starting and stopping the Scheduler
    • Changing the initial delay and Backlog Days for individual tasks
  14. Administration > Ink Setup – All available Process, Gamut-extending and Light Channel colors
    • Creating, Editing and Deleting Inks
    • Creating, Editing and Deleting Inks from multiple manufacturers or variations
    • Entering Ink prices
    • Entering Customer-specific or Process-related Ink prices
  15. Administration > Measurement Devices – Manage Measurement Devices
    • Creating, Editing and Deleting Measurement Devices
    • Creating, Editing and Deleting Device configurations
    • Setting of Device Parameters that influence measurements
  16. Administration > Cutter Devices – Manage Cutting Devices such as Plotters and Laser Cutters
    • Create, Edit and Delete cutting devices available in the system (may vary depending on the license purchased)
    • Mapping Spot Colors to a Cutting Device (depends on manufacturer)