Hybrid Software launches Cloudflow RIP Farm

Cloudflow RIP Farm is based on the Harlequin Core

Hybrid Software's Cloudflow RIP Farm
Hybrid Software's Cloudflow RIP Farm

Hybrid Software, a Global Graphics company, is pleased to announce the launch of a new enterprise RIP (Raster Image Processor) solution for packaging and label printers and tradeshops: the Cloudflow RIP Farm

The business model for RIPs in the packaging market has traditionally been simple: each platesetter is sold with a bundled software RIP. This works fine for packaging printers with one CTP device. Still, it becomes unwieldy when multiple platesetters are needed and completely unmanageable across enterprise operations with more than one production facility. 

It does not provide any mechanism for load balancing across multiple CTP devices. If production constraints force a job to be moved to another press or a different location, the job must be RIPped again. Another drawback to this approach is the cost: having a separate RIP for each platesetter is expensive to purchase and inefficient to maintain.

Label and packaging production has fared relatively well during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this segment faces increasing price pressure every day. And the consolidation that continues to occur in the packaging industry means that there are more multi-location enterprises than ever before. These companies can benefit most from a centralized RIP architecture like the Cloudflow RIP Farm, based on the powerful Harlequin Core

Unlike digital printing, platemaking places few demands on the RIP. The time required to RIP and screen each color of a packaging job is a small fraction of the total platemaking time. Many customers are looking for efficiency gains and technology improvements with their legacy RIPs, and computing clouds like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure provide the ideal environment for enterprise customers to implement a centralized RIP architecture. 

Cloudflow RIP Farm providing a more efficient workflow

This also provides a much more efficient workflow since jobs can be RIPped and stored in the cloud, then transferred to the printing location for platemaking the day before the job is scheduled to run on press. With Cloudflow’s highly efficient compression technology, the download time for each output-ready bitmap is only a small fraction of the platemaking time, and it’s easy to load balance across platesetters and printing plants if production schedules change. 

Customers with perpetual licenses can install the RIP Farm in the hosting environment of their choice. Subscription customers utilize the newly-developed multi-tenant My Cloudflow Gigacluster, which is hosted in AWS and managed by Hybrid Software. 

“A large enterprise prepress provider needed to migrate their multitude of legacy RIPs installed at each site, and Hybrid’s Cloudflow RIP Farm suits their needs perfectly, running 24/7 to RIP jobs for their worldwide production. This has delivered massive gains to the customer, as they can simplify and downscale their hardware footprint. At the same time pool, the RIP licenses centrally to drastically reduce the amount of software they need,” explains Nick De Roeck, CTO of Hybrid Software.  

“This customer was able to reduce their footprint from more than 50 dedicated RIPs installed across the world in different locations, to a centralized Cloudflow RIP Farm of 16 RIP engines running in Amazon Web Services (AWS),” he added.

Mike Rottenborn, CEO of Hybrid’s parent Global Graphics PLC, adds, “Many companies talk about plans for cloud services and subscription licensing, but Hybrid Software has been walking the talk for years. Since its introduction in 2014, Cloudflow has been available in AWS and other public cloud environments, and centralized RIPping is the perfect application for the combined technology of Hybrid Software and Global Graphics.” 


2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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