By Olivia Cahoon
Part 2 of 2
Print service providers with new digital production equipment rely on digital front ends (DFEs) to process and automate production workflow. Features include faster job processing and management of inks and coatings. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and third-party DFEs are available for a variety of production devices.
In part one of this series we reviewed best practices and advantages of today’s DFEs. Here, we provide a roundup of OEM and third-party DFEs.
Digital Front Ends
Canon U.S.A developed its PRISMAsync and Canon Embedded Controller, and offers EFI’s imagePRESS servers for DFE capability. The PRISMAsync offers advanced color management, trapping, and job management services. “It drives Canon production cutsheet printing systems including imagePRESS and varioPRINT digital presses,” says Robert Barbera, senior manager, production solutions division, Canon U.S.A. Business Imaging Solutions Group.
The PRISMAsync includes a touchscreen control panel and job scheduler that displays the resource requirements for print jobs. Barbera says it allows press operators to attend to other operations without fear of slowing down production. The Remote Manager tool queues and manages production jobs through a network browser application from any client workstation on the network.
The Canon Embedded Controller is for entry-level production and operations that use printer driver workflow that doesn’t require job or queue management tools. “It drives Canon imagePRESS 750 digital color presses and Canon imageRUNNER Advance printers,” says Barbera.
EFI features Fiery DFEs and FreeFlow Print third-party DFEs. The Fiery FS200 Pro was released in 2015 and the Fiery NX and XB in 2016. It features color management, image correction, media profiling, preflighting, load balancing, layout, finishing management RIPing, job automation, variable data, cloud-based management, and business intelligence reporting.
“The fast processing speed of Fiery DFEs ensure that a print engine doesn’t cycle down waiting for a complex job to finishing RIPing,” says John Henze, marketing VP, EFI Fiery. Fiery DFEs also help users identify and correct mistakes before print.
The Fiery DFEs and FreeFlow Print servers are intended for low-volume light production cutsheet to high-volume continuous feed inkjet. “A large part of what we have done over the past 25 years is develop tools that help our customers identify and fix those potential pitfalls by providing automated correction, post-flight reports, and visual previews,” adds Henze.
HP offers the SmartStream Production Pro with RIP, print, color management, imposition, composition, and cloud-connected functions. SmartStream version 6 was released in late 2016. It has an unlimited production size and processes thousands of jobs daily. SmartStream is capable of scaling RIP hardware to eight times the basic configuration to increase RIP capacity.
“SmartStream Production Pro is a scalable architecture that supports up to eight HP Indigo digital presses from a single print server,” says Bob Raus, North America category manager, workflow and partner programs, HP Indigo. HP offers free, open, and fully supported APIs available for direct download.
SmartStream features the Direct2Finish add-on for automating bindery. The add-on creates and delivers JDF instructions to enabled finishing devices for fast turnarounds and reduced labor costs. SmartStream is available in workstation, tower, and rack configurations and is suitable for small to large print shops.
OKI Data features the EFI Fiery C9 Server as a third-party DFE. Released in early 2016, the C9 includes spot-color adjustments, visual image enhancement, and variable data support. It is intended for short-run production between 2,000 and 5,000 pieces.
“OKI’s C942 digital production printer paired with Fiery servers allow for the use of different media such as varying stocks and envelopes to drive profitable short-run jobs,” says Jim Fuchs, technical marketing manager, OKI Data Americas, Inc. The Fiery C9 offers personalized marketing campaigns, fixes images late in the production process, and calibrates consistent color.
The OKI C941 and C942 digital productions paired with Fiery servers offer additional spot colors like white and clear. The Fiery C9 Server’s Speed-On feature enables adjusting and managing spot colors used as critical colors. It allows print providers to confirm and edit CMYK values for fine-tuning spot color definitions. The Fiery C9 Server is priced at $8,499.
There are limitless options for print providers looking to purchase DFEs for their latest digital production presses. The best match for the press and print provider is influenced by integration capabilities and specific functions that best serve the print shop.
Apr2017, DPS Magazine