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Ghent Workgroup releases milestone 2015 PDF Specification and announces brand new PDF Specification for Packaging

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Press release from the issuing company

Based on ISO PDF/X-4 standard for highest quality print production across the supply chain  

GHENT, BELGIUM - The Ghent Workgroup (GWG) is releasing its milestone GWG2015 PDF Specification for print and packaging production. Built by the foremost graphic arts and PDF experts in the world, the new GWG2015 PDF Specification describes file setting and workflow processing requirements necessary to achieve the highest quality production and exchange efficiency of PDF files. Compliance with the new GWG2015 PDF Specification guarantees quality consistency across the supply chain up to printing and publishing.

Founded in 2002, the Ghent Workgroup is an international assembly of industry associations and suppliers from across Europe and the United States. This community of industry leaders has consistently produced numerous process specifications for PDF exchange, and has developed useful tools for automating processes and testing to establish consistent PDFs for quality print and publishing.  

The release of these new specifications marks the latest development from this community of industry experts. The GWG2015 Specification is built on the modern ISO PDF/X-4 standard, and adds a number of specific requirements for different market segments, called variants. The variant “family” covered by the GWG2015 PDF Specification is heatset and coldset printing; it includes more conservative variants restricted to the use of CMYK and more progressive variants allowing wider gamut color spaces for image content. 

GWG is also proud to announce its GWG2015 PDF Specification for Packaging.  Created by the packaging committee of the Ghent Workgroup, this specification addresses offset, gravure and flexographic printing. Leading the creation of this specification were the chairs of the packaging committee, Steve Carter from PhotoType and Lieven Plettinckx of Esko. They comment: “Because of the unique requirements inherent in the process, we needed to develop a dedicated PDF Specification for packaging. Built upon the ISO PDF/X-4 standard, the GWG2015 PDF Specification for Packaging meets that need and addresses the specific issues relevant to package and label production.”

As with all the GWG resources, these new specifications and accompanying documentation are available for free and can be downloaded here:

Constantly evolving with new technologies and markets

David Zwang, Chairman, Ghent Workgroup, comments: “The GWG 2015 specifications, like all of our other efforts, was developed to keep up with the changing state of technology and the market demands. The significant change in the 2015 specification was related to what constitutes the safe color spaces and conditions that can be used for reliable reproduction. In addition, there were other minor changes that are designed to address user feedback on the GWG2012 specifications.”

Within the GWG2015 PDF Specification, the GWG defines a number of guidelines, which support different market segments, output processes or workflows. A magazine advertisement workflow has totally different guidelines than a commercial sheetfed workflow. Practical examples of requirements include the color spaces allowed in a PDF file, or the image resolution required for images in a particular type of workflow. PDF Specifications also feature page & text scaling, overprint, and ink coverage, as well as ICC profile usage. 

Supporting users with new documentation

The GWG is also providing accompanying documentation with its new PDF Specifications. This documentation includes an implementation guideline explaining when and how to use the new specifications, and a difference document which explains the major differences between the currently used GWG 1v4 specifications and the new GWG2015 specifications. 

David van Driessche, Executive Director of the Ghent Workgroup who co-authored these documents, explains: “The documentation should help users understand which specifications to use and what impact the changes in those specifications may have on their workflows.”

The major changes from the GWG 1v4 Specification, which was based on the PDF/X-1a ISO standard, are centered on a few areas. One eases restrictions for use of ICC profiles and certain color spaces, depending on whether the restrictions are being applied to continuous tone images, or not.  David van Driessche notes that some variants of the 2015 Specification allow calibrated RGB, ICC-based RGB and LAB color spaces for some print elements, and that “this allows for much more flexible workflows, but also constitutes a major change.”

Commitment to the graphic arts

The creation of this new specification - and the addition of the packaging specification – demonstrate GWG’s deep knowledge of the graphic arts market, and their ongoing commitment to developing technologies that can support this industry.

David Zwang concludes, “Our members are part of a true community who share the same objective: to give the industry a standard, improved PDF throughput which can result in the best print quality. That is why all of us at the Ghent Workgroup are proud of these new GWG2015 PDF Specifications, and the impact they will have for printers, publishers and packaging production.”


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