Harlequin RIP updated to support PDF 2.0

Global Graphics has released version 12 of its Harlequin RIP, which boasts a number of features including support for the ISO PDF 2.0 standard that was published last year.

Harlequin 12 allows for dynamic overlays for variable data as shown on this folding carton.

Martin Bailey, CTO and head of product management at Global Graphics Software, says “The safest approach to the adoption of PDF 2.0 for press manufacturers is to ensure that all applications that consume PDF, such as the Digital Front End for your press (DFE), are upgraded to support PDF 2.0. Your DFE is the best place to start because if your customer sends files for processing that contain some of the new features in PDF 2.0 they will usually be silently ignored by an older reader with unexpected results in output.”

There’s a new feature to create barcodes in the RIP. This supports various symbologies such as the postal barcodes used in the US, UK, Germany, Korea, Japan, Australia and so on, as well as those used for logistics, process control and even QR codes used for customer engagement. Barcodes can be snapped to the correct size for the output resolution in use to maximize readability. Bailey says this avoids “the most common reason we’ve seen for unreadable barcodes, by snapping the barcode size so that every module is exactly the same number of device pixels width, and tall for 2D barcodes.”

Another new feature, dynamic overlays, can be used to add a simple form of variable data. This could, for example, where a single background page is combined with overlay graphics that are selected using data from a file supplied in a format like CSV.  Serial or batch codes can be added using dynamic counters without writing values to a CSV first. Global Graphics has now added support to apply overlays on top of a single page PDF file to add text and barcodes for serial numbers, QR codes for personalized URLs, postal barcodes and addresses on envelopes.

Harlequin 12 also includes the Advanced Inkjet Screens, which I’ve already covered, and which should improve the performance of most inkjet presses.

The Harlequin RIP comes in two versions: there’s a Harlequin Host Renderer, which is a software development kit for vendors developing their own digital front ends; and Harlequin MultiRIP for conventional and light digital production printing.

Both versions support all of the features of the new PDF 2.0 standard that are relevant for production printing. Martin Bailey, the CTO of Global Graphics Software, has authored a White Paper The impact of PDF 2.0 on print production which is available for download.

In truth, Harlequin is not the most common RIP, with most prepress vendors opting for Adobe’s PDF Print Engine, but it’s worth noting that it is used in a number of high speed production devices, including HP’s PageWide inkjet web and Indigo presses.

Yogev Barak, HP Indigo head of strategy and business management, says “thousands of HP Indigo customers are using the Global Graphics Harlequin RIP, as part of our Digital Front End solutions. The processing speed, RIP quality and rich feature set are among the main reasons the Harlequin RIP is the solution for our digital presses”.

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