Xerox Develops 3-D Visualization Software For Printing

Published: 08 September, 2008
Xerox has developed software that would enable print shops to render a 3-D visualization of a customer's brochure, flyer, or other job before it goes to print.

The technology developed by Xerox scientists at the company's research center in Webster, N.Y. would give printers the ability to show customers exactly what their document would look like, including texture, gloss, folds, and binding, before any ink or toner is put to paper. The capability would likely reduce customer disappointment with the finished product.

"Someone can really see what the job will look like before it's produced," Rob Rolleston, research manager at the Webster center, told InformationWeek Wednesday.

In the context of a typical scenario, a marketing department would create a brochure using, for example, document creation tools from Adobe Systems. The finished creation would then be exported as a PDF file that supports Job Definition Format. JDF, which is supported in the latest Adobe tools, is a technical standard under development by the graphics arts industry for describing a project's attributes.

The JDF-supported PDF file could then be sent over the Internet to several print shops, which could then use Xerox technology to render 3-D visualizations and send the files back to the customer's marketing department, which could use the images in deciding which vendor to use. The 3-D file could be opened in any Web browser with a standard plug-in for showing 3-D pictures, such as Java 3-D or Adobe Flash.

Because JDF is an emerging industry standard, Xerox prefers this technology in rendering 3-D images. However, the company could decide to support other formats, Rolleston said.

The Xerox technology is still in the concept stage, so there are a number of technical issues, such as performance, image quality, and platform support, that have to be worked out, Rolleston said. In addition, the company hasn't decided how it would incorporate the technology into its product line or in the printing services it offers companies.

Nevertheless, Xerox has received "very nice feedback" from customers, who see it as a way to reduce the most costly bottleneck in printing, which is re-working a job. With the Xerox technology, the promise is in getting it right the first time.