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Mutoh America Presents Thunderbird for Large Format Printing Systems

Press release from the issuing company

ORLANDO, Fla., April 3 -- Mutoh America Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Mutoh Industries Ltd. of Tokyo, Japan, has announced the release of its new Thunderbird, Integrated System Imaging Server (ISIS), the catalyst of its systems-oriented approach to production printing. Thunderbird completes the solution and enhances the performance of Mutoh's large format indoor and outdoor production printers -- Falcon-II and Toucan. The Thunderbird ISIS combines production workflow, print management, and PostScript raster image processing tailored for Mutoh production printers. Using Thunderbird ISIS features, the complete Mutoh printing system can be managed remotely via a network, or the Internet. Acting as an intermediary between the printer and the client network, the Thunderbird ISIS combines a multi-queue network print server, job archive server, network hard disk, Web server, and PostScript interpreter with a high-speed data interface, designed to streamline the processing and management of large format print jobs. "The most serious problem we have, in terms of imaging for our customers, is that the size of the image files over-burdens most existing network print servers and workstation-based RIP packages," explains Christopher Brown, project manager for Mutoh's Advanced Engineering Group. "The Thunderbird ISIS provides a solution, where large jobs can be queued, archived, monitored, and transferred to the printer with minimal impact on the existing network infrastructure." The Thunderbird ISIS connects to either the Toucan or Falcon-II printer via a high-speed data interface, based on the IEEE-1394 specification. This interface allows files stored on the Server to be copied directly to the hard disk buffer inside the printer, bypassing the internal data I/O bus. The result is a sustained data transfer rate of nearly 1,000 megabytes per minute. For the Toucan-87, Mutoh's new 87-inch solvent printer, a 4 x 8-foot panel printed at 720 dpi would transfer to the printer in less than 40 seconds. At 360 dpi, the normal production mode for this printer, the same image would transfer in about 20 seconds. A 4 x 8 panel printed on the Toucan-87 in normal production mode would take less than five minutes to print. Using a standard ECP interface, the data transfer takes far longer than the actual print time, creating a bottleneck in the customer's workflow but, with the Thunderbird's high-speed data interface, the bottleneck disappears." Along with providing a high-speed data path, the Thunderbird also provides print spooling, queuing, and job archive and reprint functions. The interface between the client network and the Thunderbird ISIS is 100Base-T Ethernet. Incoming jobs are queued, processed and archived. Multiple reprints are handled via the Thunderbird ISIS, which checks printer status between reprints, and displays printer status in real time via a platform-independent Web interface. The user can monitor queues and printer status remotely, even from around the world via the Internet if the Thunderbird is linked through the user's network gateway. One benefit of this technology is remote monitoring of unattended printing. User's can remotely check printer status and queue status, switch queues, release jobs from hold, reprint archived jobs, and cancel jobs from anywhere -- even from home in the middle of the night. Queue status is automatically updated every 15 seconds, and printer status every 30 seconds. If a problem occurs at any time, printing is suspended and the user is notified via both the Web interface and email. Thunderbird ISIS is also fully Adobe PostScript-3 compatible. It will process PostScript and PDF images printed from any Windows or Macintosh client on the host network. Print drivers for Windows 98, 2000 and XP are stored right on the Thunderbird's network-browseable 60-gigabyte hard disk, as are drivers for Macintosh OS 9.x and OS-X. Users can print from any application directly to the Server's shared network print queue. A total of 16 internal queues are used to spool jobs for different media types, allowing the server to store jobs on hold for a media to be loaded at a later time. As a result, multiple jobs can be printed in batches, avoiding the need for constant media changes. When a PostScript job is received, it is checked for errors, and a 72 dpi JPEG preview image is generated. This preview image can be viewed remotely, to ensure the job was properly constructed prior to printing. The preview is an exact representation of the printed image, and will verify orientation, page position and cropping errors. If an error does occurs, and error log is generated and emailed to the user, and the original PostScript file is saved to a network-browseable folder. This feature allows the user to double-check jobs prior to releasing them from the print queue to the printer. The Thunderbird ISIS will also function in environments where existing third-party software RIPs are used. If the customer has an existing RIP, with the appropriate Mutoh-compatible RTL driver, the customer can print directly to the Thunderbird's bypass queue. Jobs that come into this queue are archived for reprinting, and then passed to the printer via the high-speed data interface. If reprints are needed, the job can be reprinted directly from the Thunderbird's archive queue, avoiding the need to resend it from the external RIP. In addition, all of the monitoring functions, including remote printer status monitoring, job monitoring, and unattended print monitoring, are fully functional, regardless of whether the Thunderbird's own PostScript interpreter is used, or if a third-party RIP is used. In fact, the Thunderbird ISIS will work with both PostScript and pre-RIPed files simultaneously. The Thunderbird ISIS is included, as part of the purchase price, with the Toucan and Falcon-II series production printing systems in North and South America.