Hybrid Software Group’s Global Graphics Software is granted US patent for AI-enabled Smart Digital Front End Software; technology has already been integrated into company's SmartDFE digital front end for high-speed industrial inkjet presses

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CAMBRIDGE, England , September 8, 2023 (press release) –

Global Graphics Software, a Hybrid Software Group company and leading developer of intelligent software components and Digital Front Ends (DFEs) for manufacturers of digital printers, has been granted a US patent (Patent No. 11,720,769) for “Methods and Systems for Enhancing Raster Image Processing Using Artificial Intelligence”. This patented technology has already been embodied in Global Graphics Software’s award-winning SmartDFE™, a digital front end (DFE) for high-speed industrial inkjet presses.

“Real-time inline rasterization of variable data for high-speed digital presses poses a significant challenge, as it requires a very high constant rate of raster data to be delivered to the press. Unfortunately, the diversity of PDF files and computing hardware ensures that very complex jobs may process too slowly for inline rasterization. Compounding this issue is the vast number of PDF creators in the market, who prioritize design flexibility without considering rasterization or printing. Digital press operators have been forced to process jobs in advance—while their press sits idle—or to process jobs inline and hope that the DFE can provide data at the speed of the digital press. This risk has made the production use of inline RIPs for high-speed inkjet presses impractical until now,” explains Eric Worrall, VP of Products and Services and the inventor of the patent.

With this invention, SmartDFE harnesses the power of AI and machine learning to create an intelligent Raster Image Processor (RIP) model, uniquely tailored to each press manufacturer’s chosen computing hardware and encompassing an extensive range of over 1000 PDF operations which take place in the Harlequin RIP® that powers SmartDFE. Once trained, this model can deconstruct any PDF print job and predict the minimum constant raster data rate and hence the printing speed that can be achieved, so press operators can make well-informed decisions and effectively plan their production processes. This data-driven approach allows SmartDFE to automatically fine-tune the RIP settings for each job, using Global Graphics’ 30 years of experience in developing Harlequin as the fastest RIP in the world.

“We applied for this patent two years ago, long before artificial intelligence became an everyday term. But this is a very practical application of AI that solves some long?standing challenges in inkjet production printing. By applying this invention to the Harlequin Direct™ technology in SmartDFE, we have the first true production-quality solution for inline rasterization on high-speed digital presses,” continues Worrall.

SmartDFE has been co-developed using components from other Hybrid Software Group companies including HYBRID Software’s STEPZ®, the native PDF job creation solution for pre-press and VDP, and HYBRID Software’s CLOUDFLOW®, providing advanced workflow automation. SmartDFE also includes support for Meteor Inkjet’s industry-leading printhead drive electronics and software.

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Jason Irving
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