Hallmark Cards turns to Enfocus Switch for automated error-free digital workflow

Hallmark Cards

So it's not large format print, in fact most of it is not even A4, but it is digital, and the workflow aspect of the story will perhaps be of interest to some LFR readers...


Hallmark Cards is renowned worldwide for its greeting cards and produces thousands of new designs and cards each year. The company’s European subsidiary based in Capelle a/d IJssel, the Netherlands, has chosen Enfocus to establish a completely digital workflow. Hallmark Cards uses a customized application of Enfocus FullSwitch and PitStop Server.

With more then 3,000 new cards brought to market every year, Hallmark Cards Continental Europe had an impressive archive of traditional films. The switch to digital started in 1999 when part of the company’s projects was set-up in Quark Xpress and Adobe Photoshop. A Digital Asset Management system was implemented in 2004 to archive the enormous amount of digital files. The company switched to Adobe InDesign on Apple OSX in 2006, paving the way for a completely digitalized PDF workflow.

Sourcing a top-speed, error-free workflow
Hallmark Cards put together a team to identify a fast, automated and error-free workflow. Dejan Mladenovic, IT Manager, and Miranda Vink, Technical Support and Development Manager evaluated several prepress workflow solutions from different suppliers, but none met Hallmark Cards’ criteria. According to Mladenovic, many of these workflow solutions had too many options, which made them expensive and too time consuming to work with on a daily basis.

When Vink discovered Enfocus Switch at a trade show, it proved to be the solution that fitted the company’s needs perfectly. Plus,  Wifac PDF Diensten en Systemen, Hallmark's house supplier of software solutions, supports Switch, which was an extra advantage. "We were happy to have been able to test a free trial version so we could see what Switch could do," explains Vink. "We worked out a prototype of our preferred workflow, which was then set up in detail by PDF Diensten en Systemen and Enfocus. They offered us a customized solution for a standard price." 

Extensive control guarantees top quality
The newly established digital workflow allows Hallmark Cards to work faster and more efficiently. Enfocus FullSwitch also enables the company to support one of the critical parts of its production. Although all prepress and print preparation work is done in-house, printing is outsourced as the European subsidiary does not have its own printing department. This means perfectly controlled PDF files and a highly accurate color management system are essential. Errors can prove very expensive, plus they damage Hallmark's reputation for producing high-quality cards.

Hallmark Cards considers every card to be a separate project that must be carefully checked and proofed before it’s sent to the printer. And this is where the Enfocus solutions really prove their worth. The company combines the Enfocus FullSwitch with PitStop Server to automate the flow of all incoming and outgoing files and check them for color, overlays and fonts etc. This extensive control saves valuable time and ensures the print-ready PDF files are 100% accurate. The files are then sent for proofing to two Epson printers via FullSwitch.

Working smarter and cutting costs
"Our investment in FullSwitch has already made our operation more efficient and helped us trim costs," says Mladenovic. "After implementing the software, we saw a significant drop in the number of errors. Plus it has enabled us to produce cards faster and reduce the hours needed for manual control and fixing mistakes."

Setting up a proofing workflow with the ISO-certified Epson printers has been another huge advantage. Handling proofing in-house save costs and time. And the time savings achieved using Enfocus FullSwitch have afforded Hallmark Cards the opportunity to broaden its range of cards and develop more designs. The specialists that were previously occupied checking the hundreds of files and proofs are now concentrating on color management and in-house photography.

Streamlining production
The team at Hallmark Cards is dedicated to improving their systems and workflow - something that Enfocus FullSwitch is helping them achieve. The company’s goal is to replace hard proofing with soft proofing and use the PDF job ticket information that is incorporated in the Enfocus Certified PDF technology, the core of all Enfocus products.

One task that still requires manual work in the original InDesign file is the encoding of each card, which is different for each country and language. "We’re now implementing an automated system to imposition all the cards,” adds Vink. “And for this we prefer a customized workflow that includes encoding our cards directly in the PDF. Establishing this process makes our PDF workflow complete."