The Processing Steps concept
PDF files in packaging workflows commonly contain the design to be printed and elements that are not printed, yet are crucial to how the printed piece is going to be further processed. A prime example is cutting and folding information which is needed after printing, to cut a box to final format and fold it into its 3D shape. The Ghent Workgroup identified years ago that a lack of standardization in the way these “processing steps” elements were contained in PDF documents, were a hindrance to the acceptance of PDF as the standard format in such packaging workflows.
Best practice to international standard
The packaging subcommittee in the Ghent Workgroup created a proposal to use metadata attached to optional content groups (commonly known as layers) in PDF documents to convey standardized information about elements necessary for different processing steps in the packaging workflow. This proposal was then discussed in the International Standards Organization and has been adopted as international standard ISO 19593-1.
Lieven Plettinck, Director Software Engineering at Esko and co-chair of the GWG Packaging Subcommittee, states, “The adoption of ISO 19593-1 is an important step toward increasing the productivity of the packaging supply chain, and we are pleased that we have been able to assist in the development of this important standard. Now we have a formal, standardized means of communicating digital data, including in PDFs, throughout the entire packaging pre-production workflow. It will dramatically reduce the need for manual intervention and minimize the opportunity for human error in a complex and highly competitive global packaging environment.”
Ghent Workgroup and ISO: natural allies
The Ghent Workgroup was founded in 2002 to work on best practices in graphic arts. Its members come from software and hardware vendors, graphic arts organizations, educational facilities and printers, publishers and packaging converters. Because of its hands-on approach and subject matter experts, it is capable of quickly developing specifications and proposals around standardization in graphic arts workflows. These best practices are often built on ISO standards (such as PDF/X), but they also often inspire ISO committees in their standards work.
Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientistat Adobe Systems Incorporatedand Chair at ISO TC130WG2/TF2, comments, “The cooperation between Ghent Workgroup and ISO comes very naturally. Both organizations strive for quality and productivity optimization. With regards to PDF and the print industry, Ghent Workgroup does a great deal of valuable work at a highly technical level, which our committees can then easily approve and integrate into international standards. This way, any company can benefit from the standards and procedures with regard to PDF processes and workflows – for print but also for office documents and packaging.”