Global Graphics Software
Smart software components for Print OEMs and ISVs

SmartDFE for Industrial

Winner of a Pinnacle 2023 Technology Award

SmartDFE for Industrial is a software component built for single-pass inkjet printing in industrial settings. It integrates smoothly with factory control systems using the OPC UA interface. This makes adding an inkjet printing station to a factory as straightforward as adding any other industrial component. SmartDFE brings together a range of proven and cutting-edge components, all backed by over 30 years of experience in printing.

Features and benefits

Smart Connectivity
  • Driven by industry-standard OPC UA interface:
    • Write your own user interface within weeks using the OPC UA API
    • Industry 4.0-enabled to connect with smart manufacturing and cloud data services
Smart Control
  • Press Operator's controller
  • Full, brandable front end
  • Harlequin Direct at Heart: designed to drive the fastest, widest and highest resolution inkjet devices
  • Full variable data streamed directly to the device electronics
  • Instant printing, no need to RIP ahead
  • Easily scalable with extended gamut and special colors
Smart Quality
  • Enable your customer's press operators to achieve the best quality without the need for print specialists
  • Create a library of predefined media definitions describing all the settings needed for perfect color and quality
  • Supercharged by ScreenPro™ with advanced inkjet-specific screens and custom screen design service
  • Powered by the award-winning PrintFlat™ technology, taking inkjet quality to the next level
  • Enhanced with industry-leading color tools with ColorLogic Inside
  • Stream data directly to industry-standard inline quality inspection systems
  • Areas of interest highlighted (eg labels, variable data)
  • Generates color-managed RGB raster data for every page

Smart Connectivity

Connect SPC to existing UI or craft new ones

SmartDFE enables secure communication within printing presses, factories, and the Cloud. It enables Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to quickly market products using standard press controllers or custom front ends that integrate with existing systems. At its core, the Smart Connectivity layer, powered by OPC UA, ensures robust and secure interactions with devices and applications in the press, Cloud and on mobile, supporting features like remote monitoring and predictive maintenance. SmartDFE incorporates print communication standards (JDF and JMF) for enhanced interoperability and efficiency in print production workflows.

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Smart Connectivity is powered by OPC UA

Smart Control

Your own brandable inline RIP controller

Experience the power of a fully customizable Digital Front End (DFE) that adapts to your brand requirements. This solution provides a seamless entry into the market, enabling swift integration. Operating in server (headless) mode, it also effortlessly complements your existing front end setup. Seamlessly integrate with Smart Print Controller (SPC) through the OPC UA API, enhancing connectivity.

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Smart Print Controller screenshot

Smart Quality

Achieve top-quality output without the need for a PhD

In today's printing landscape, achieving top-quality prints and precise colors often relies on skilled print operators. However, there's a shortage of these experts. This is especially noticeable in industries integrating print into broader processes, where non-specialists take on printing tasks. To address this, Smart Quality combines advanced technologies like PrintFlat, ScreenPro, and ColorLogic into a user-friendly system, making it easier for any operator to achieve excellent print quality.

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Smart Quality


Synchronize SmartDFE with advanced vision systems

Incorporating an additional RIP Server PC into your system establishes a direct link with a vision system for quality assessment using SmartQI™. This server is adept at delivering RGB composite images to your inspection system, ensuring they are in sync with the rasters sent to the press. Such synchronization is crucial for uniform control of both the printing and inspection processes.

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An application of SmartQI running on a monitor screen

Universal support for printhead drive electronics

SmartDFE works with any printhead drive electronics and supports various file types like PRT and TIFF. Quick support for new electronics or formats is often available within weeks through a BreakThrough project. It’s already compatible with printhead drive electronics from Meteor Inkjet, known for its wide support in industrial inkjet printing. This allows easy integration of different printheads, even from various manufacturers, in one press. Additionally, Meteor Inkjet offers comprehensive tools and services to ensure high product performance and efficient workflows.

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Smart Quality

Accelerate to market with our free BreakThrough service

Our business model, centered on partnering with you, offers SmartDFE licenses linked to your printer sales, starting when your product is ready for the market. Our objective is to help you launch quickly. Our BreakThrough service adds our expert engineers and scientists to your team, accelerating your product's market launch. You can buy this service in blocks of days, and the cost will be balanced against SmartDFE licenses once your press ships, effectively making it free. This service is part of our commitment to your success, aiming to reduce challenges and speed up your market entry, benefiting both of us.

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Streamline your SmartDFE solution with a single supplier

Our approach combines the convenience of a single supplier for SmartDFE components with the flexibility to choose different options, supported by our 30 years in printing. We use open standards like OPC UA for better compatibility. Committed to innovation, we offer key components as SDKs, allowing customization to meet your unique market needs.

SmartDFE editions

SmartDFE is available in various editions, each featuring a unique blend of Hybrid Software Group components.

SmartDFE for Industrial
Smart Control (including Harlequin Direct™)
Smart Quality
Smart Connectivity
ColorLogic Inside
Meteor Ready
Included as standard
Included with all variants apart from "Static"


There are four variants of SmartDFE with different hardware requirements and price points. The lowest variant is "Static"; this is recommended where the press is only going to print many copies of a static design ie a single piece of content printing many times. The top variant is Ultra High Data Rate (UHDR), which is designed to produce the huge amounts of data generated by fully variable data on the fastest, highest resolution, widest and best quality inkjet printing presses. Calculate which variant you need using the Data Rate Calculator.

Variants Abbreviation Example Data Rate Description
Static Static NA A single PC running all the software and generating a static raster which will be printed many times.
Standard Data Rate SDR Up to 3GB/s Typically, two PCs, one running Harlequin Direct and other the workflow and controller software. Designed for less demanding variable data, lower resolution, narrower and lower speed presses.
High Data Rate HDR

Between 3GB/s and 18 GB/s

Typically, more than one PC running Harlequin Direct and another running the workflow and controller software. Designed for most common variable data and main stream press capabilities.
Ultra High Data Rate UHDR Above 18 GB/s Typically multiple state-of-the-art PCs driving Harlequin Direct. Designed to produce the huge amounts of data generated by fully variable data on the fastest, highest resolution, widest and best quality inkjet printing presses.

SmartDFE Partner Network

If you're integrating SmartDFE into your own workflows or solutions, you can expand your experience and expertise by calling on one of our partners. The SmartDFE Partner Network includes experts in enhancing connectivity, performance, quality and workflow.

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The Vir Softech team developed a new User Interface (UI) for SmartDFE™ in under three weeks using the latest web-based technology, proving that creating a custom UI can be quick and significantly reduce time to market.

Talk to us about your project

If you need more information about any of our products, technologies or services, get in touch.