Software for Efficient Production of Documents With Individualized Pages

Direct mailing and individualized documentation often calls for large print runs, incurring significant printing costs. In professional printing, the ability to produce sets of documents with similar backgrounds, but which differ slightly page-by-page, is an area of intense competition. This novel approach to page production reduces costs and computational loading while offering improved quality and flexibility of layout.

Benefits Summary

This novel advance in the customization of documents permits significant improvements in speed and quality of production, while reducing computational loads and cache memory requirements. As an extension of existing image handling and page generation software, it is capable of delivering significant reductions in production overheads with minimal user training. more

Development Summary

This software has been embedded in digital printing presses (type Xeikon), but cannot be delivered separately to customers. The intellectual property is available. more

IP Summary

This technology is supported by 1 US patent, 1 Japanese patent and 1 European patent. The most recent year of issue is 2000. more

Technology Benefits Description

 

  1. Each new page is generated in a single pass, eliminating inconsistencies in ink, typeface and alignment and allowing perfect merging of page specific information and the background document.

 

2.     Multiple printer passes or manual interventions to add page specific information are eliminated, reducing printing costs.

 

  1. Use of bitmap images throughout reduces the computational overhead of raster image processing, commonly encountered in conventional desk-top publishing systems, where each page is fully created using a page description language.

 

  1. The restoration of a stored bitmap background rather than its re-creation for each new page significantly reduces computational loadings and improves image throughput.

 

  1. The method represents a significant advance on the ‘forms’ approach which can involve the repeated generation of bitmaps from internal image manipulation formats, and call for the copying of large cache files.

 

  1. Industry standard image and page creation applications are supported, allowing improved productivity with minimum user disruption.

 



Technology Differentiation and Uniqueness

 

Current digital print output systems typically generate a data stream in page description language.  For each complete page, a bitmap data conversion is necessary, with consequent high image processing overheads.  Additionally, where network operation is involved, high connection loads may be imposed, degrading network performance.

 

The use of ‘forms’ alleviates this problem by allowing definition of a re-usable template upon which page specific information may be imposed.  However, the cached content of the form will often require bitmap conversion each time it is used.  When images are stored, the whole image must be cached – often with considerable demands upon memory.

 

By contrast, the current system employs bitmap representations throughout and restores changes in the page specific regions of the background image at the end of each page generation cycle. This approach significantly reduces image processing and cache memory requirements, with consequent effects upon speed and system demand.



Development Stage
Technology Verification/Prototype

Development Status Summary
This software has been embedded in digital printing presses (type Xeikon), but cannot be delivered separately to customers. The intellectual property is available.

Application and Potential Advantage
1Variable image printing : The data delivery to the printing press is speeded up.
2Keywords : Large scale print production, image handling systems, page generation software, desktop publishing, variable imaging, digital printing

Patent Information
1
NumberTitleCountryStatusDate
US  6064397 Method for creating multiple documents having identical background
regions and page specific image regions
 
US Issued 05/16/2000 
US ClassIntl. ClassReferences Cited
345/630
345/629
707/507
707/520 
G06T 011/00 US  4665555
US  5025396 

2
NumberTitleCountryStatusDate
EP  0703524 Variable data fields in a page description language EP Issued 03/27/1996 
EP ClassIntl. ClassReferences Cited
G06K15/00 G06F3/00
G06K15/00 
 

3
NumberTitleCountryStatusDate
JP  JP08115178  JP Issued  
JP ClassIntl. ClassReferences Cited
   

Technology Provided By
Agfa-Gevaert NV

Related Competency
The Agfa-Gevaert Group develops, produces and distributes an extensive range of analog and digital imaging systems and IT solutions, mainly for the printing industry and the healthcare sector, as well as for specific industrial applications. AGFA has more than 100 years of experience in the production of imaging materials and has extensive in-house R&D capabilities covering different fields such as chemistry and materials science, coating technology for film and other substrates, and digital equipment and software development.

Provider Transaction Status
Has engaged in Introductions

Long Description

 

 

Background

 

Direct mailing and personalized printed matter commonly require print runs of up to a thousand multi-page documents.  Often, these contain substantially the same information with only a small region, typically an address, changing from page to page.

 

In its simplest form, an individual page will consist of general text with open spaces which may be completed either by hand or in a second print run.  The problems with this approach are well known and include:

 

  • Visible differences in ink, typeface and printing quality.

 

  • Poor alignment with background text.

 

  • Inability to erase local areas of background  leading to inflexible layouts.

 

  • High cost of manual additions or second print run.

 

Current desktop systems are capable of creating a data stream for individual pages which overcomes some of the problems of flexibility, quality and printing cost.  However, each page still requires a description of the background and specific image which must be converted to bitmap format for printing purposes. Since every page must be separately handled, however minor the change,  this imposes a large burden of image processing, particularly where the background image is complex.  When network transmission is involved, this individual page approach can impose tremendous loadings on network connections.

 

A new method has now evolved to generate high quality pages, each with an identical background and each having page specific information in a single print pass.  The computational effort required to generate multiple pages is reduced compared with current systems and the technique is compatible with widely used image processing and page generation software.

 

Method

 

The page generation process consists of the following steps:

 

  1. Generating and storing a background image in bitmap format.

 

  1. Saving background image information from the page specific regions in a cache.

 

  1. Generating, implanting and storing each page-specific image in bitmap format.

 

  1. Transferring the contents of the bitmap memory for printing of the page.

 

 

  1. Restoring saved image regions from the cache to the bitmap background image.

 

  1. Repeating steps 3-5 for each page.

 

The bitmap regions corresponding to the page-specific parts of the image are usually  small compared to the overall image and require relatively little memory.  Further, the saving and restoring operations do not place large processing demands.  Steps 3, 4 and 5 that are executed for each page are mainly restricted to bitmap generation of page specific data and can be written directly into bimap memory.  The method thus makes use of high-performance bitmap image generation without the additional processing demands of a page description language.

 

Restoration of the background image (step 5) must cover at least the portion that will be different on the next page and is accomplished by a simple copy operation.  The advantage of the restoration procedure is that images or text  may be overlaid on the background or implanted in a text box of any size, allowing great flexibility in layout.

 

To optimize restoration, each bitmap portion consists of a rectangular area which fully covers one or more page specific regions.  The system is sufficiently flexible to accommodate a wide range of page insert configurations.

 

 



Collaboration Type Sought
License, For Sale

Collaboration Description
The intellectual property is available. The isolated software cannot be transferred.

Terms and Restrictions
Terms are negotiable. Only non exclusive licenses are available.

Available Technical Assistance
No assistance available

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