PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative, as the leading independent advocate for the advance of digital printing and variable data printing, reports that digitally printed page volumes in North America have increased substantially every year since 2003, and are projected to grow to nearly 130 billion pages per year by 2015. PODi President Rab Govil says, “Digital printing has a solid record of reliable growth, even through the recession. From 6.1 billion color digital pages printed in 2003 to 46.1 billion pages printed in 2010, digital printing has experienced seven consecutive years of growth. Our research shows that the big drivers of growth for at least the next decade will be direct mail, transpromo and marketing collateral.”
As part of its continuing mission to advance the digital printing industry and the world of digital short-run, on-demand, and variable data printing, PODi supports key standards. “PODi has always promoted standards-based interoperability and workflows that advance production printing and develop new markets for digital print,” says Mr. Govil. “That work has led to the development of PPML, which is now the leading VDP language in the commercial print segments. We have now added PDF/VT support to help print service providers who want to have an end-to-end PDF workflow that includes variable data.”
Industry leaders agree that PDF/VT (formally known as ISO 16612-2) is an important addition to PODi’s portfolio of device-independent standards which make variable data printing easier:
Adobe: “Adobe printing technologies, such as PostScript, have been integral to PPML solutions since the beginning, and remain so today,” said Raman Nagpal, senior director, Print Technologies. “This reflects the Adobe tradition of support for interoperability through standards. We endorse the new PDF/VT exchange format for personalized print workflows, and welcome its adoption by leading industry stakeholders.”
EFI: “EFI continues its long-standing commitment to PPML, and now PDF/VT-1 brings the benefits of a PDF workflow to VDP. It helps customers increase production efficiency with capabilities such as late stage exchange of critical variable content,” says EFI’s CTO Ghilad Dziesietnik. “By folding seamlessly into existing PDF-based prepress operations, PDF/VT-1 enables a single, common PDF print production workflow across all job types.”
HP Indigo: “HP Indigo has a large number of customers using PPML for their VDP jobs; we’re committed to it and will continue to support the format,” says Alon Gazit, Director of R&D, HP Indigo. “We are also proud to support the PDF/VT standard. We recognize the need for higher efficiency in the entire workflow from creation to fulfillment and welcome the new format to help meet the needs of our VDP customers.”
Pageflex: “PDF/VT brings users all the benefits of a PDF workflow – including reliable visual proofing, standardized preflight tools, and a superb imaging model for printing graphically-rich documents – while advancing the final critical step in VDP workflows: the efficient RIPing and printing of VDP jobs. Our customers run some of the most sophisticated variable data campaigns and have a range of requirements, so we see the need to support both PPML and PDF/VT,” comments Costas Kitsos, VP Engineering for Pageflex.
Xerox: “Xerox support for standards is long standing,” says Gavin Jordan-Smith, VP Production Workflow and Solutions for Xerox. “As technology develops and moves forward there is an increasing need to have standards that support the graphic communications environment. We see great potential for our customers especially related to automated workflows that integrate with business process management. This ultimately leads to super efficiencies with predictable productivity and both PPML and PDF/VT gets us there.”
The merits of PDF/VT were recognized by the Printing Industries of American (PIA), which honored the format with a 2011 InterTech Technology Award. In summary, PDF/VT offers the following features:
- Support for the latest PDF imaging model, which can accurately render transparencies
- Existing tools can pre-flight and modify PDF/X4 and PDF/X5 files and can therefore be used for PDF/VT files
- The free Acrobat Reader can be used to preview and soft-proof PDF/VT files
- The preview/soft-proof/print file is one and the same so there are no discrepancies between what the customer sees and what gets printed
- Support for blind job exchange
- Distiller in combination with pdfmark can be used to convert optimized PostScript to PDF/VT (providing a simple migration path)
The established PPML (Personalized Print Markup Language) standard has been significantly enhanced with the recent release of PPML 3.0. In addition to supporting transparency, PPML 3.0 also supports transparency between layers. PPML supports native formats including EPS, jpg, tiff, PDF. PPML also offers high performance in streaming applications. The PPML standard is generally available to the marketplace. It can be downloaded at the PODi website.