JP2013154511A - Apparatus and program for generating print data, and printing system - Google Patents

Apparatus and program for generating print data, and printing system Download PDF

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JP2013154511A
JP2013154511A JP2012015847A JP2012015847A JP2013154511A JP 2013154511 A JP2013154511 A JP 2013154511A JP 2012015847 A JP2012015847 A JP 2012015847A JP 2012015847 A JP2012015847 A JP 2012015847A JP 2013154511 A JP2013154511 A JP 2013154511A
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density
ink
printing
print data
data
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JP5919843B2 (en
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Takeshi Watabe
剛 渡部
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Brother Industries Ltd
ブラザー工業株式会社
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Abstract

PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED: To provide a print data generating apparatus, a print data generating program, and a printing system, capable of performing optimal printing in consideration of printing efficiency and printing quality when printing while ejecting multiple colors inks.SOLUTION: A CPU determines whether the density of white ink is made a high density being higher than unit density, that is, the largest amount of density that can be ejected by one time scan of a carriage on each pixel row. When the high density is determined, the CPU generates print data for ejecting white ink using a multi-pass method from gradation data. Further, the high density of white ink is determined, the CPU generates print data for ejecting color ink with a normal density of not more than the unit density from the gradation data.

Description

  The present invention relates to a print data creation device, a print data creation program, and a print data creation program capable of ejecting more ink than the amount of ink that can be ejected by scanning the carriage once for each of the pixel rows arranged in the main scanning direction. And a printing system.
  Conventionally, a technique for ejecting ink while scanning a carriage a plurality of times in order to form one pixel row is known. For example, the image forming apparatus disclosed in Patent Literature 1 performs printing using white ink, and then heat-fixes the printed white ink. The image forming apparatus repeatedly prints white ink and heat-fixes a plurality of times, thereby ejecting a large amount of white ink onto a recording medium and obtaining good color development. Hereinafter, a printing method in which the same ink is printed by scanning the carriage a plurality of times for each pixel row is referred to as overlapping printing.
JP-A-2005-161583
  One of the overlapping printing methods is a method using a multi-pass method. The multi-pass method is a method in which different nozzles among a plurality of nozzles provided in the ink head are scanned on the same pixel row, and printing of each pixel row is completed. According to the multi-pass method, the number of times the nozzles are scanned in the same pixel row (hereinafter referred to as “pass number”) increases, and the time required for printing increases. However, by using the multi-pass method, it is possible to improve the print quality by reducing the influence of variations in the ink ejection direction and ejection amount at the nozzles, variations in the movement amount in the sub-scanning direction at the carriage, and the like. As the number of passes increases, the influence of variation decreases and print quality improves. Furthermore, by adjusting the rate of thinning out the ink ejection in each pass (thinning rate), printing with a density higher than the density of ink that can be printed in one pass (hereinafter referred to as “unit density”) It can also be done by a pass method.
  When printing is performed while ejecting a plurality of colors of ink, only the density of the ink of a specific color may be set higher than the unit density. In this case, according to the conventional technology, it has not been possible to create print data that can execute optimum printing in consideration of both printing efficiency and printing quality.
  The present invention relates to a print data creation apparatus and a print data creation program for creating print data capable of performing optimum printing in consideration of both printing efficiency and print quality when printing is performed while ejecting a plurality of colors of ink. And a printing system.
  A printing data creation apparatus according to a first aspect of the present invention is a printing apparatus that performs printing on a recording medium by causing a carriage mounted with a plurality of ink heads that discharge different inks to scan relative to the recording medium. Is a print data creation device that creates print data used in the printer, and obtains gradation data that is data indicating gradation values for each pixel for determining the discharge amount per unit area of each of a plurality of inks The maximum density that can be ejected by scanning the carriage once for each of the pixel columns arranged in the main scanning direction, with the data acquisition means and the maximum value of the density of some of the plurality of inks. A determination means for determining whether or not a higher density than the unit density is set; and when the determination means determines that the maximum value of the density of the partial ink is a high density, the high density The print data to be ejected by using a multi-pass method in which high-density ink, which is ink to be used, is performed by scanning different nozzles of the plurality of nozzles provided in the ink head to the same pixel row a plurality of times, and performing printing. High density data creating means created from the gradation values of the high density ink indicated by the gradation data acquired by the data acquisition means, and the maximum density of the partial ink is determined to be high density by the judging means. If it is determined that the gradation data is the print data for causing the multi-pass method to eject the normal density ink that is the normal density equal to or lower than the unit density among the plurality of inks, at the normal density. Normal density data creating means for creating the gradation value of the normal density ink shown.
  The print data creation device according to the first aspect can create print data for printing a part of ink (high density ink) at a high density while printing another ink (normal density ink) at a normal density. . In this case, print data is created so that high-density ink is ejected using the multi-pass method and normal-density ink is also ejected using the multi-pass method. When ejecting ink having a density higher than the unit density, it is necessary to scan the nozzles a plurality of times for each pixel row. Accordingly, the nozzle that discharges the normal density ink is also scanned a plurality of times for each of the pixel columns. Therefore, when the multi-pass method is used for discharging high-density ink, the printing efficiency (printing time and power consumption) does not change depending on whether the multi-pass method is used for discharging normal-density ink. The print data creation apparatus can cause the printing apparatus to execute high-quality printing more efficiently than the case where only the high-density ink is ejected by the multi-pass method by ejecting the normal-density ink by the multi-pass method.
  The print data creation device does not set the maximum density of the partial ink to a high density by an instruction acceptance unit that accepts an instruction to select whether or not to create the multi-pass print data, and the determination unit. And when the selection instruction to create the print data of the multi-pass method is received by the instruction receiving unit, the plurality of inks are ejected at the normal density by the multi-pass method. You may further comprise the selection time data production | generation means which produces print data from the gradation value of each ink which the said gradation data acquired by the said data acquisition means shows. When high density printing is not executed, the print quality and printing time vary depending on whether or not the multi-pass method is used. The user can select whether to perform high-quality printing by the multi-pass method or to perform printing in a short time without using the multi-pass method. Further, as described above, when executing high density printing, the print data creating apparatus creates print data so that normal density ink is ejected by the multi-pass method. Therefore, the user can easily cause the print data creation apparatus to create print data for executing appropriate printing.
  The print data creation device further includes a prohibiting unit that prohibits the instruction receiving unit from accepting the selection instruction when the determining unit determines that the maximum density of the partial ink is a high density. May be. The print data creation apparatus can prevent erroneously creating inefficient print data that ejects normal density ink without using the multi-pass method when performing high density printing.
  The print data creation apparatus causes a display unit to display whether or not the selection instruction by the instruction reception unit is prohibited by the prohibition unit and whether or not the multi-pass print data is to be created. Display control means may further be provided. In the case where the determination by the determination unit is changed from the determination that the maximum value of the density of the partial ink is not set to the high density to the determination that the density is set to the high density, the display control unit A message that the print data is to be created may be displayed, and a message that the acceptance of the selection instruction is prohibited may be displayed. In this case, the user can easily grasp that multi-pass print data is automatically created.
  The print data creation apparatus may further include a storage control unit that stores the selection instruction received by the instruction reception unit in a storage unit. When the determination by the determination unit is changed from the determination that the maximum value of the density of the partial ink is set to a high density to the determination that the density is not a high density, the display control unit If the selection instruction not to create the print data is stored in the storage unit, the display to create the print data of the multi-pass method is changed to a display not to create and the selection instruction is accepted. You may display that it is not prohibited. In this case, when the multi-pass print data is automatically created and changed to a state in which the user can select application of the multi-pass method, the contents of the selection made by the user in the past are reflected as they are. Is displayed. Therefore, the user can easily grasp the contents of the selection made by the user in the past and make an appropriate selection.
  The print data creation device includes a unit density acquisition unit that acquires the unit density of the part of ink, and a gradation value of the ink that is indicated by the gradation data acquired by the data acquisition unit is maximum. An input receiving unit that receives an input of a maximum density that is the density of the partial ink in a pixel that is a value may be further included. The determination means increases the maximum value of the density of the partial ink depending on whether or not the maximum density received by the input reception means is higher than the unit density acquired by the unit density acquisition means. It may be determined whether or not the concentration is used. In this case, since the user can arbitrarily input the maximum density, printing desired by the user is executed. The print data creation apparatus can create appropriate print data according to the maximum density input by the user.
  The normal density data creation unit may create the multi-pass print data for performing the same number of scans as the multi-pass scan in the print data created by the high density data creation unit. In multi-pass printing, the higher the number of scans (pass number), the higher the print quality. The print data creation device performs normal-pass ink multi-pass printing with the same number of scans as the number of scans for discharging high-density ink, thereby reducing the number of scans of normal-density ink than the number of scans of high-density ink. Compared with the case where it does, high quality printing can be made to perform a printing apparatus more efficiently.
  The partial ink may be white ink. When the printing area is filled with white, it is difficult to obtain a good color unless the white ink has a high density. According to the print data creation device according to the first aspect, it is possible to easily create print data that provides a good white color.
  The print data creation device includes: a plurality of ink heads that discharge the partial ink in the carriage; the plurality of ink heads arranged in the main scanning direction; and the ink head that discharges the partial ink. The print data for controlling the printing apparatus in which a plurality of the ink heads that eject the normal density ink are arranged in the main scanning direction at positions shifted in the sub-scanning direction may be created. In this case, the print data creating apparatus can efficiently eject both the high density ink and the normal density ink to the printing apparatus with one carriage.
  A printing data creation program according to a second aspect of the present invention is a printing apparatus that performs printing on a recording medium by causing a carriage mounted with a plurality of ink heads that eject different inks to scan relative to the recording medium. A print data creation program that is executed in a print data creation device that creates the print data to create print data to be used in a printer, and determines a discharge amount per unit area of each of a plurality of inks A data acquisition step for acquiring gradation data, which is data indicating a gradation value for each pixel, and a maximum value of the density of some of the plurality of inks for each of the pixel rows arranged in the main scanning direction A determination step for determining whether or not the density is higher than a unit density that is the maximum density that can be discharged by scanning the carriage once; In the determination step, when it is determined that the maximum value of the density of the part of the inks is a high density, a high density ink that is an ink to be a high density is set to a different nozzle among a plurality of nozzles of the ink head. The print data to be ejected by a multi-pass method in which printing is performed by scanning the pixel row a plurality of times is created from the gradation values of the high-density ink indicated by the gradation data acquired in the data acquisition step. In the high density data creation step and the determination step, when it is determined that the maximum value of the density of some of the inks is a high density, the ink has a normal density equal to or lower than the unit density among the plurality of inks. The print data for causing normal density ink to be ejected at the normal density by the multi-pass method is represented by the gradation data. Including instructions for executing the normal density data generating step of generating the gradation value of the atmospheric concentration ink to the controller of the print data creation device.
  According to the print data creation program according to the second aspect, the print data creation apparatus prints a part of ink (high density ink) at a high density while printing another ink (normal density ink) at a normal density. Data can be created. In this case, print data is created so that high-density ink is ejected using the multi-pass method and normal-density ink is also ejected using the multi-pass method. When ejecting ink having a density higher than the unit density, it is necessary to scan the nozzles a plurality of times for each pixel row. Accordingly, the nozzle that discharges the normal density ink is also scanned a plurality of times for each of the pixel columns. Therefore, when the multi-pass method is used for discharging high-density ink, the printing efficiency (printing time and power consumption) does not change depending on whether the multi-pass method is used for discharging normal-density ink. The print data creation apparatus can cause the printing apparatus to execute high-quality printing more efficiently than the case where only the high-density ink is ejected by the multi-pass method by ejecting the normal-density ink by the multi-pass method.
  A printing system according to a third aspect of the present invention includes: a printing apparatus that performs printing on the recording medium by scanning a carriage on which a plurality of ink heads that discharge different inks are mounted relative to the recording medium; A printing system including a printing data creation device that creates printing data used in the printing device, and indicates gradation values for each pixel for determining a discharge amount per unit area of each of a plurality of inks Data acquisition means for acquiring gradation data as data, and a maximum value of the density of some of the plurality of inks to scan the carriage once for each of the pixel rows arranged in the main scanning direction. Determining means for determining whether or not the density is higher than the unit density, which is the maximum density that can be ejected, and the determination means sets the maximum density value of the partial ink to a high density A multi-pass method in which printing is performed by scanning different nozzles of the plurality of nozzles provided in the ink head a plurality of times in the same pixel row with a high-density ink that is a high-density ink when it is determined The print data to be ejected by the high density data creating means for creating from the gradation value of the high density ink indicated by the gradation data acquired by the data acquiring means; When the maximum density value is determined to be a high density, the normal density ink that is an ink having a normal density equal to or lower than the unit density among the plurality of inks is ejected at the normal density by the multi-pass method. Normal density data creating means for creating data from the tone value of the normal density ink indicated by the tone data.
  The printing system according to the third aspect can print other ink (normal density ink) at normal density while printing some ink (high density ink) at high density. In this case, print data is created so that high-density ink is ejected using the multi-pass method and normal-density ink is also ejected using the multi-pass method. When ejecting ink having a density higher than the unit density, it is necessary to scan the nozzles a plurality of times for each pixel row. Accordingly, the nozzle that discharges the normal density ink is also scanned a plurality of times for each of the pixel columns. Therefore, when the multi-pass method is used for discharging high-density ink, the printing efficiency (printing time and power consumption) does not change depending on whether the multi-pass method is used for discharging normal-density ink. The printing system can efficiently perform high-quality printing by ejecting the normal density ink by the multi-pass method, as compared with the case of ejecting only the high-density ink by the multi-pass method.
1 is a perspective view showing an outline of a printing system 100. FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the carriage 34. FIG. 3 is a block diagram showing an electrical configuration of the printing apparatus 30. FIG. It is a block diagram which shows the electric constitution of PC1. 3 is a data configuration diagram of a color mode conversion table 21. FIG. It is a flowchart of the main process which PC1 performs. It is a flowchart of the setting process performed by the main process. It is a figure which shows the printing condition and the printing method input screen 61 (initial screen) in case the number of heads used is "4". It is a figure which shows the printing condition and the printing method input screen 62 in case the number of heads used is "2." FIG. 10 is a diagram illustrating a printing condition / printing method input screen 63 when the number of heads used is “0”. It is a flowchart of the display control process performed by a setting process. 6 is a flowchart of print data creation processing executed in main processing. 6 is a flowchart of high-density print data creation processing executed in print data creation processing. It is explanatory drawing for demonstrating the printing operation performed when the required frequency | count of scanning n is 7.
  Hereinafter, embodiments of the present invention will be described with reference to the drawings. First, with reference to FIG. 1, a personal computer (hereinafter referred to as “PC”) 1 which is an embodiment of a print data creation apparatus according to the present invention, and a printing system 100 including the PC 1 will be described. The printing system 100 includes a PC 1 and a printing device 30. The printing device 30 is a known fabric ink jet printer, and can print on a fabric that is a recording medium by scanning an ink head 35 (see FIG. 2). The PC 1 can create print data for causing the printing apparatus 30 to execute printing.
  An overview of the printing apparatus 30 will be described with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2. The lower left side and upper right side in FIG. 1 are the front side and the back side of the printing apparatus 30, respectively. The left-right direction and the up-down direction in FIG. 1 are the left-right direction and the up-down direction of the printing apparatus 30, respectively. As illustrated in FIG. 1, the printing apparatus 30 includes a rectangular box-shaped casing 31. A pair of guide rails 33 extend in the left-right direction substantially at the center of the casing 31 in the front-rear direction. The carriage 34 is supported by the guide rail 33 so as to be movable in the left-right direction (main scanning direction) along the guide rail 33. Although not shown in detail, the carriage 34 is scanned in the main scanning direction by a main scanning mechanism including a main scanning motor 46 (see FIG. 3) and a belt. The carriage 34 includes a plurality of ink heads 35 (see FIG. 2) at the bottom. The arrangement of the plurality of ink heads 35 will be described later with reference to FIG.
  A pair of guide rails 37 extend in the front-rear direction at a substantially central lower portion in the left-right direction inside the housing 31. The platen support 38 is supported by the guide rail 37 so as to be movable in the front-rear direction (sub-scanning direction) along the guide rail 37. Although details are not shown, the platen support 38 is scanned in the sub-scanning direction by a sub-scanning mechanism including a sub-scanning motor 47 (see FIG. 3) and a belt. A replaceable platen 39 is fixed substantially at the center in the left-right direction on the upper surface of the platen support 38. The platen 39 is a plate having a substantially pentagonal shape in plan view, and is for placing a cloth such as a T-shirt on the upper surface thereof.
  The printing apparatus 30 can form a pixel row (dot row) in the main scanning direction by ejecting ink while causing the ink head 35 to scan in the main scanning direction. When the scanning in the main scanning direction is completed, the printing apparatus 30 scans the ink head 35 in the sub-scanning direction and then forms a pixel row in the main scanning direction again. The printing apparatus 30 repeatedly performs the above operation according to the print data, thereby forming a plurality of pixel rows on the recording medium and performing printing.
  Note that the printing apparatus 30 according to the present embodiment moves the carriage 34 in the main scanning direction and moves the platen 39 in the sub-scanning direction, thereby relatively moving the carriage 34 and the recording medium held by the platen 39. Move to. However, the present invention can be applied to the case where a printing apparatus that relatively moves the carriage 34 and the recording medium is used, and the specific moving method is not limited to the method of the present embodiment. That is, in the present invention, “scan the carriage 34 relative to the recording medium” means that when the platen 39 is moved in the main scanning direction and the carriage 34 is moved in the sub scanning direction, only the platen 39 is main scanned. The case of moving in the direction and the sub-scanning direction includes the case of moving only the carriage 34 in the main scanning direction and the sub-scanning direction. When only the platen 39 is moved, the carriage 34 only holds the ink head 35. Further, the present invention is not limited to moving the recording medium by moving the platen 39, and only the recording medium may be moved using a roller or the like.
  The structure of the carriage 34 will be described. As shown in FIG. 2, the carriage 34 has a plurality of ink heads 35 mounted thereon. A plurality of fine nozzles 36 are provided on the bottom surface of each ink head 35. In the present embodiment, 128 nozzles 36 are provided in each ink head 35, but the number of nozzles 36 is simplified in the drawing. The ink supplied from the ink cartridge (not shown) to the ink head 35 is ejected downward from the nozzle 36 by driving the piezoelectric element. The plurality of nozzles 36 in each ink head 35 are arranged side by side in a direction that intersects the main scanning direction (in the present embodiment, the sub-scanning direction).
  The printing apparatus 30 can perform printing by ejecting both white ink and color ink onto a recording medium while the carriage 34 is scanned in the main scanning direction. That is, the printing apparatus 30 can execute simultaneous printing of white and color by using the carriage 34 shown in FIG. Therefore, the printing apparatus 30 can complete printing in a short time. On the carriage 34, a white ink head 35W that discharges white ink and color ink heads 35C, 35M, 35Y, and 35K that discharge color ink are mounted. In the example shown in FIG. 2, four white ink heads 35W are arranged side by side in the main scanning direction. Further, four color ink heads 35C, 35M, 35Y, and 35K are arranged side by side in the main scanning direction at positions shifted in the sub-scanning direction with respect to the four white ink heads 35W. The color ink head 35C discharges cyan ink. The color ink head 35M ejects magenta ink. The color ink head 35Y discharges yellow ink. The color ink head 35K discharges black ink. Since the color ink is ejected onto the white ink, the platen 39 (see FIG. 1) moves downward in FIG. The white ink head 35W and the color ink heads 35C, 35M, 35Y, and 35K may be in contact with each other or may be separated from each other.
  The specific configuration of the carriage 34 can be changed. For example, instead of using the color ink head 35K that discharges black ink, only the three color ink heads 35C, 35M, and 35Y may be used. In this case, black is expressed by mixing three colors of cyan, magenta, and yellow. In addition, an ink head that discharges ink other than cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (for example, an ink head that discharges ink such as gold and silver) may be included in the color ink head. The number of white ink heads 35W is not limited to four. The number of nozzles 36 provided in each ink head 35 can also be changed.
  In the printing apparatus 30, the white ink head 35 </ b> W is detachably attached to the carriage 34. Therefore, the user can change the number of white ink heads 35 </ b> W attached to the carriage 34. More specifically, even after the user purchases a model in which two white ink heads 35W are mounted on the carriage 34, the user can additionally mount the two white ink heads 35W on the carriage 34 to thereby install the printing apparatus. Thirty models can be changed. Although details will be described later, the PC 1 according to the present embodiment can execute printing on all of a plurality of models having different numbers of white ink heads 35W. Further, the user can execute printing using only a part of the plurality of white ink heads W mounted on the carriage 34.
  A printing method that the PC 1 can cause the printing apparatus 30 to execute will be described. The PC 1 can cause the printing apparatus 30 to eject more ink than can be ejected by scanning the carriage 34 once for each of the pixel rows arranged in the main scanning direction. A specific ink such as white ink may not be able to obtain a good color just by scanning the carriage 34 once. The printing apparatus 30 performs an operation of forming each pixel row in the process of scanning the carriage 34 a plurality of times (so-called “superimposing”), thereby reproducing a good color by ejecting a lot of ink onto a recording medium. be able to. Hereinafter, a printing method in which the same color ink is overprinted is referred to as overlapping printing.
  The PC 1 can also cause the printing apparatus 30 to execute multi-pass printing, which is one type of overlapping printing. The multi-pass method is a method in which printing is performed by scanning different nozzles 36 for each pixel row a plurality of times. The ink ejection direction and ejection amount vary for each nozzle 36. Furthermore, the amount of movement of the ink head 35 in the sub-scanning direction may vary. Accordingly, when one pixel row is completed by one operation (pass) in the main scanning direction, streaks (so-called “horizontal streaks” and “banding”) are generated between the pixel rows, and the print quality deteriorates. . Further, a difference in ink amount for each pixel column also causes a decrease in print quality. The printing apparatus 30 performs multi-pass printing (hereinafter sometimes referred to as “multi-pass printing”), thereby reducing the influence of various variations of the printing apparatus 30 itself and improving print quality. be able to.
  Generally, when creating multi-pass print data, a thinning process is performed. The thinning-out process is a process for controlling the ink discharge amount by thinning out the ink discharge in each of a plurality of scans according to a predetermined algorithm with respect to a pixel determined to discharge ink. The probability that ink ejection is thinned out in each scan is called a thinning rate. If the sum of the thinning rates in each scan is less than 100%, a larger amount of ink is ejected than the amount of ink that can be ejected in one scan. That is, according to the multi-pass method, it is possible to increase the amount of ink to be ejected (duplicate printing for high density) while improving the print quality. However, if the thinning process is performed for each scan, the processing load on the PC 1 increases. The PC 1 of the present embodiment can create multi-pass print data without increasing the processing load. Specific processing contents will be described later.
  The PC 1 can also execute printing by causing any one of the plurality of nozzles 36 included in each ink head 35 to scan one pixel row once. Hereinafter, this printing method is referred to as a single method. According to the single method, the printing time is shortened compared with the case of performing duplicate printing.
  With reference to FIG. 3, the electrical configuration of the printing apparatus 30 will be described. The printing apparatus 30 includes a CPU 40 that controls the printing apparatus 30. A ROM 41, a RAM 42, a head drive unit 43, a motor drive unit 45, a display control unit 48, an operation processing unit 50, and a USB interface 52 are connected to the CPU 40 via a bus 55.
  The ROM 41 stores a control program for controlling the operation of the printing apparatus 30, initial values, and the like. The RAM 42 temporarily stores various data such as print data received from the PC 1. The head driving unit 43 is connected to the ink head 35 that ejects ink, and drives the piezoelectric element provided in each ejection channel of the ink head 35. The motor driving unit 45 drives a main scanning motor 46 that moves the ink head 35 in the main scanning direction and a sub scanning motor 47 that moves the ink head 35 in the sub scanning direction. The display control unit 48 controls display on the display 49 in accordance with an instruction from the CPU 40. The operation processing unit 50 detects an operation input to the operation panel 51. The USB interface 52 connects the printing apparatus 30 to an external device such as the PC 1.
  The electrical configuration of the PC 1 will be described with reference to FIG. The PC 1 includes a CPU 10 that controls the PC 1. A ROM 11, a RAM 12, a CD-ROM drive 13, an HDD 14, a display control unit 16, an operation processing unit 17, and a USB interface 18 are connected to the CPU 10 via a bus 19.
  The ROM 11 stores a program such as BIOS executed by the CPU 10. The RAM 12 temporarily stores various information. A CD-ROM 6 as a recording medium is inserted into the CD-ROM drive 13. Data recorded on the CD-ROM 6 is read by the CD-ROM drive 13. The PC 1 acquires a print data creation program and the like according to the present invention via the CD-ROM 6 and the Internet, and stores them in an HDD (hard disk drive) 14. The HDD 14 is a non-volatile storage device, and stores a print data creation program, various tables (for example, see FIG. 5), and the like. The display control unit 16 controls the display on the monitor 2. The operation processing unit 17 is connected to the keyboard 3 and the mouse 4 for the user to perform operation input, and detects the operation input. The USB interface 18 connects the PC 1 to an external device such as the printing device 30.
  The color mode conversion table 21 will be described with reference to FIG. The color mode conversion table 21 is a table for converting image data expressed in 256 gradations in the sRGB format into gradation data that is image data expressed in 256 gradations in CMYKW. In the color mode conversion table 21, CMYKW values corresponding to the sRGB values are associated with each other. The color mode conversion table 21 is created by a known method and stored in the HDD 14 of the PC 1 in advance. The specific configuration of the table may be changed. For example, a table for performing conversion from sRGB to CMYK and a table for performing conversion from sRGB to W may be provided separately. The color mode may be converted by calculation or the like without using a table.
  The main process executed by the PC 1 will be described with reference to FIGS. As described above, the print data creation program (printer driver program) is stored in the HDD 14 of the PC 1. When the print data creation instruction is input, the CPU 10 of the PC 1 activates the printer driver according to the print data creation program and executes the main process shown in FIG.
  When the main process is executed, a setting process is first performed (S1). In the setting process, a printing condition and a printing method (whether to execute multi-pass printing) are set. The printing conditions set in the setting process include the number of heads used, the maximum density, the unit density, and the required number of scans.
  The number of used heads is the number of white ink heads 35W that eject ink during one scanning in the main scanning direction among the white ink heads 35W (see FIG. 2) mounted on the carriage 34 of the printing apparatus 30. is there. In the present embodiment, the carriage 34 can mount a maximum of four white ink heads 35W. Therefore, in the print condition setting process, any one of “4”, “2”, and “0” is set as the number of heads used (see FIGS. 8 to 10). The number of usable heads that can be set may be equal to or less than the number of white ink heads 35W on which the carriage 34 can be mounted. Therefore, in this embodiment, “3” and “1” can be set as the number of used heads, but this description is omitted.
  The maximum density is a parameter indicating the density of white ink ejected to a region where the maximum amount of white ink is ejected. The user can set the maximum density in consideration of the color of the recording medium, desired print quality, white ink cost, printing time, and the like. The PC 1 acquires gradation data represented by 256 gradations (0 to 255) of CMYKW in order to determine the ejection amount of each ink per unit area (pixel). The maximum amount of ink is ejected to an area where the gradation value is 255. Therefore, the maximum density is the density of the white ink ejected to the area where the value of W in the gradation data is 255. In the present embodiment, the density of the maximum amount of white ink that can be ejected by scanning one nozzle 36 of one white ink head 35W once for each of the pixel rows arranged in the main scanning direction is 100%. Determine. Accordingly, when white ink is ejected using all of the four white ink heads 35W mounted on the carriage 34, the density of white ink that can be printed in one scan is 400%.
  The unit density is the maximum density of white ink that can be ejected by scanning the carriage 34 once for each pixel row. The unit density changes according to the number of used heads, and in this embodiment, “unit density = number of used heads × 100%”. The unit of the unit density and the maximum density can be set as appropriate, and is not limited to “%”. Hereinafter, a density higher than the unit density is defined as a high density. The density below the unit density is set as the normal density. As a reminder, “making the maximum density value a high density” does not mean that white ink is ejected at a high density over the entire print area, but a unit density on at least a part of the print area. This means that a region for discharging white ink at a higher density is included.
  The required number of scans is the number of times that the carriage 34 is scanned with respect to each of the pixel columns in order to eject the white ink with the maximum density. For example, when the unit density is 400%, in order to set the maximum density to 1000%, the printing apparatus 30 needs to scan the carriage 34 three times or more for each pixel column. In this case, in the present embodiment, the required number of scans is “3”. In other words, in the present embodiment, the minimum number of scans of the carriage 34 necessary for ejecting the maximum density ink is set as the required number of scans. However, the present invention can be realized even if the number of scans greater than the minimum required number of scans is set.
  The setting process will be described with reference to FIGS. When the setting process is started, the number of used heads set during the previous process and the necessity of multi-pass printing for color ink are read from the HDD 14 as candidates to be set and stored in the RAM 12 (S11). ). A printing condition / printing method input screen (see FIGS. 8 to 10) corresponding to the number of heads used as candidates is displayed on the monitor 2 (S12).
  As shown in FIG. 8, on the printing condition / printing method input screen 61 when the number of used heads is “4”, the number of used heads and the maximum density are displayed in a state that can be specified by the user. When the number of heads to be used is “4”, the maximum density is displayed in a state that can be designated from five in the range of 200% to 1000%.
  As shown in FIG. 9, in the printing condition / printing method input screen 62 when the number of used heads is “2”, both the number of used heads and the maximum density are designated as in the case where the candidates are “4”. Displayed as possible. However, when the number of used heads is “2”, the maximum density is displayed in a state where only four in the range of 200% to 800% can be specified, and the display of 1000% is grayed out. That is, the CPU 10 changes the maximum density range that can be specified according to the number of heads used. More specifically, the CPU 10 changes the maximum density range so that the lower the upper limit of the maximum density range is, the smaller the designated number of used heads is. When printing with high density in a state where the number of heads used is small, the number of scans may be excessively increased, and work efficiency may be significantly reduced. The CPU 10 can prevent the user from setting printing conditions that greatly reduce work efficiency by changing the range of the maximum density that can be specified according to the number of heads used.
  As shown in FIG. 10, the maximum density display is grayed out on the printing condition / printing method input screen 63 when the number of used heads is “0”. That is, the CPU 10 prohibits display of print conditions other than the number of used heads related to only white ink in a state that can be specified. Therefore, the user can easily grasp that it is not necessary to specify the printing condition (maximum density in the present embodiment) relating to only white ink, and can perform an appropriate operation.
  Returning to the description of FIG. When the printing condition / printing method input screen is displayed (S12), an initial value of the maximum density M corresponding to the number of used heads is acquired from the HDD 14 as a candidate to be set (S13). The HDD 14 stores an initial value of the maximum density in advance according to the number of used heads. The initial value may be determined in consideration of printing efficiency, designated frequency, etc. for each number of heads used. As an example, the initial value of the maximum density in the present embodiment is 600% when the number of used heads is “4” and 400% when the number of used heads is “2”. By displaying the initial value corresponding to the number of heads used, the user can easily grasp the appropriate maximum density M determined in consideration of printing efficiency and the like. When there are three or more types of usable heads that can be specified, it is not necessary that all initial values differ for each number of used heads.
  A unit density U corresponding to a candidate for the number of used heads is acquired (S14). As described above, in this embodiment, the unit density U is “the number of used heads × 100%”. The required number of scans n is determined from the unit density U and the maximum density M (S15). Specifically, in S15, “K = maximum density M / unit density U” is calculated. If the calculated value K is an integer, K is determined as the required number of scans n. If the value K is not an integer, a value obtained by adding 1 to a value obtained by rounding down the decimal point of the value K is determined as the necessary scan count n. As a result, even if the maximum density M is set to any value, it is possible to easily determine an appropriate necessary scan count n. For example, when the user can directly input the numerical value of the maximum density M freely, even when the user can finely change the value of the maximum density M by scanning the mouse 4, the CPU 10 accurately and easily sets the necessary number of scans n. Can be determined. Next, a display control process for displaying the set candidates is performed (S16).
  As shown in FIG. 11, in the display control process, the number of used heads and the maximum density M, which are candidates, are displayed on the printing condition / printing method input screen (see FIGS. 8 to 10) (S41). When the user designates a candidate other than the current setting candidate, the user operates the mouse 4 (see FIG. 4) or the like to select a circular or rectangular button displayed beside the desired candidate. Next, it is determined whether or not the required scanning number n determined in S15 (see FIG. 7) is 2 or more (S42). When the required number of scans n is 2 or more (S42: YES), it is necessary to execute overlapping printing in order to make the density of the white ink higher than the unit density. In this case, whether or not multi-pass printing is necessary is displayed in a state where selection by the user is impossible (see “Color ink printing method” in FIG. 8) (S43). That is, when white ink has a high density, acceptance of a selection instruction for necessity of multi-pass printing is prohibited. Further, when the white ink has a high density, the fact that the multi-pass printing is executed for the color ink is automatically stored in the HDD 14 (S44). A check is automatically displayed in a check box 69 (see FIGS. 8 to 10) indicating the necessity of multi-pass printing, indicating that multi-pass print data is to be created (S45). The process returns to the setting process (see FIG. 7).
  As shown in S <b> 42 to S <b> 45, the CPU 10 automatically stores information indicating that multipass printing is to be performed when white ink has a high density. As a result, white ink is printed with high quality and high density by the multipass method, and color ink is also printed with high quality by the multipass method. That is, in the process of executing the white ink overlap printing by the multi-pass method, the color ink is also printed by the multi-pass method (details will be described later with reference to FIG. 13). Accordingly, the number of scans of the carriage 34 (that is, the printing time) does not increase as compared with the case where the color ink is printed by the single method. Therefore, high-quality printing is automatically executed efficiently without complicated settings by the user. In addition, since it becomes impossible to select whether or not multipass printing is necessary, it is possible to prevent inefficient print data from being created.
  Furthermore, according to the processing of S42 to S45, when white ink is set to a high density, it is displayed that selection is impossible and that print data for multi-pass printing is created. Specifically, when the number of heads used and the candidate for the maximum density M are changed and the setting that does not set the white ink to a high density is changed to the setting that sets the high density, the selection is impossible. A message to create print data for multi-pass printing is displayed. Therefore, the user can easily grasp that multi-pass print data is automatically created.
  On the other hand, if the required number of scans n is less than 2 (that is, 1) (S42: NO), the display indicating whether multipass printing is necessary or not can be selected by the user (see FIGS. 9 and 10). (Refer to “Color ink printing method”) (S46). Next, it is determined whether or not the necessity of the multipath selected by the user last time is “execution” (S47). Although details will be described later, when the user inputs a selection instruction by operating the check box 69 (see FIGS. 8 to 10), the selected content is “executed” independently of whether or not multi-pass printing is actually executed. Is stored in the HDD 14. If the stored selection content is “execute” (S47: YES), the fact that multi-pass printing is to be executed is stored (S44), a check is displayed in the check box 69 (S45), and the process is a setting process. Return to. If the stored selection is “unnecessary” (including a state where neither “execution” nor “unnecessary” is stored) (S47: NO), the fact that multi-pass printing is not performed is stored in the HDD 14 (S48). ), The check in the check box 69 is not displayed (S49), and the process returns to the setting process.
  According to the processing of S44 to S49, when the white ink is not set to a high density, the user can select whether or not to execute multi-pass printing in consideration of the printing quality and the printing time. Further, when the number of heads used and the candidate for maximum density M are changed and the setting for increasing the density of white ink is changed to a setting for not increasing the density, the display is controlled according to the content of the selection instruction previously input by the user. . That is, if the stored selection content is “unnecessary”, the check displayed in the check box 69 is automatically deleted, and the check box 69 can be operated. Therefore, the user can easily grasp the contents of the selections made by the user in the past and perform appropriate settings.
  Returning to the description of FIG. When the display control process (S16) is completed, it is determined whether or not an instruction to select whether or not multipass printing is necessary (S18). If the display indicating whether multipass printing is necessary is displayed in a state where selection by the user is not possible, the selection instruction input by the user is not accepted. When the selection instruction is accepted (S18: YES), the selected content ("execute" or "unnecessary") is stored in the HDD 14 (S19), and the process returns to S16. In S16, the display of the check in the check box 69 (see FIGS. 8 to 10) is controlled according to the selected content.
  If the necessity of multi-pass printing is not selected (S18: NO), it is determined whether or not the maximum density M is designated (S21). When the maximum density M is designated (S21: YES), the designated maximum density M is stored as a candidate in the HDD 14 (S22), and the process returns to S14. By the processing of S14 to S16, the display of the printing condition / printing method input screens 61 to 63 is controlled to the display corresponding to the designated maximum density M.
  When the maximum density is not designated (S21: NO), it is determined whether or not a reset instruction for returning the printing condition candidate to the initial value is input (S24). When the reset button 65 on the printing condition / printing method input screens 61 to 63 is operated, it is determined that a reset instruction has been input. When a reset instruction is input (S24: YES), the process returns to S13, and the initial value of the maximum density corresponding to the candidate value of the number of used heads at that time is reacquired (S13) and displayed (S14 to S14). S16). That is, when the reset instruction is input, the CPU 10 returns the maximum density candidate value to the initial value corresponding to the use head number candidate value while maintaining the use head number candidate value. Accordingly, the user can easily return only the printing condition candidate values that are changed more frequently than the number of used heads to the initial value. The user does not need to wastefully specify the number of heads used.
  If the reset instruction has not been input (S24: NO), it is determined whether or not the number of used heads has been specified (S25). When the number of used heads is designated (S25: YES), the designated number of used heads is stored as a candidate (S26). The process returns to S12, a printing condition / printing method input screen corresponding to the designated number of used heads is displayed (S12), and a corresponding initial value is acquired (S13) and displayed (S14 to S16). That is, when the number of used heads is changed, the printing condition / printing method input screen is changed to a screen suitable for the designated number of used heads. Therefore, the user can easily specify the printing conditions and the printing method according to the specified number of used heads. Note that when a reset instruction is issued, the CPU 10 may also reset the selection content of necessity of multi-pass printing.
  If the number of used heads is not specified (S25: NO), it is determined whether or not a cancel instruction is input (S28). When the cancel button 66 (see FIGS. 8 to 10) is operated and a cancel instruction is input (S28: YES), the process ends. If no cancel instruction is input (S28: NO), it is determined whether an OK instruction is input (S29). If the OK button 67 (see FIGS. 8 to 10) is not operated (S29: NO), the process returns to the determination of S18.
  When the OK button 67 is operated and an OK instruction is input (S29: YES), the number of white ink heads 35W mounted on the carriage 34 by the printing apparatus 30 (hereinafter referred to as “the number of mounted heads”) is acquired. (S30). Various methods can be employed for obtaining the number of mounted heads. For example, the CPU 10 may acquire the number of mounted heads by transmitting an instruction to output the number of mounted heads to the printing apparatus 30 and receiving the number of mounted heads output from the printing apparatus 30. Further, the CPU 10 may allow the user to input the number of heads mounted on the printing apparatus 30 in advance and store the number in the HDD 14, and obtain the number of heads mounted from the HDD 14.
  It is determined whether the number of mounted heads is smaller than the candidate number of used heads (S32). When the number of mounted heads is smaller than the number of used heads (S32: YES), the printing apparatus 30 cannot execute printing under the designated printing conditions. Therefore, the CPU 10 outputs an error (S33), and the process returns to the determination of S18. As a result, the user can easily grasp that the designation of the number of used heads should be changed. As an error output method, various methods such as a method of displaying an error screen on the monitor 2 and a method of generating an error sound can be adopted. If the number of mounted heads is equal to or greater than the number of used heads (S32: NO), the number of used heads stored as candidates, the unit density U, the maximum density M, the required number of scans n, and the necessity of multi-pass printing are printed. The conditions and the printing method are set and stored in the HDD 14 (S35). The process returns to the main process (see FIG. 6).
  As described above, according to the setting process shown in FIG. 7, the user can freely specify the number of heads to be used and cause the printing apparatus 30 to execute printing. If the number of heads used is large, printing is completed in a short time. On the other hand, if overlap printing is performed with a reduced number of heads used, the next white ink is ejected after the previously ejected white ink has dried to some extent. Will improve. Therefore, by specifying the number of heads to be used, the user can perform printing in a short time with a large number of white ink heads 35W, and can prevent bleeding of ink with a small number of white ink heads 35W. The setting process can be commonly used for a plurality of printing apparatuses having different numbers of white ink heads 35W mounted on the carriage 34. Therefore, the manufacturer and user of the printing apparatus do not need to prepare a printer driver separately for each of the plurality of printing apparatuses. Furthermore, even when the number of white ink heads 35W mounted on the carriage 34 of the printing apparatus 30 is changed, the user can easily create print data simply by changing the designation of the number of used heads.
  As shown in FIG. 6, when the setting process (S1) is completed, image data expressed in 256 gradations in the sRGB format is acquired (S2). The acquired image data is converted into gradation data expressed in 256 gradations in the CMYKW format by the color mode conversion table 21 (see FIG. 5) and stored (S3).
  It is determined whether or not the required number of scans n is 2 or more (that is, whether or not the white ink has a high density) (S4). If the required number of scans n is less than 2 (that is, 1) (S4: NO), the process proceeds to S8 as it is. If it is 2 or more (S2: YES), it is necessary to cause the printing apparatus 30 to perform duplicate printing. In this case, first, one of the plurality of pixels constituting the print area is set as a target pixel in order (S5). Next, the gradation value W is converted by multiplying the ratio of the maximum density M to the value obtained by multiplying the unit density U by the required number of scans n by the gradation value W of the white ink in the target pixel (S6). It is determined whether or not all pixels are the target pixel (S7). If all the pixels are not the target pixel (S7: NO), the process returns to S5, and the processes of S5 to S7 are repeated. When the process for the gradation value W of all pixels is completed (S7: YES), the process proceeds to S8.
  Error diffusion processing is performed on the gradation data expressed in 256 gradations in the CMYKW format, and the gradation value is lowered (S8). When the required number of scans n is 2 or more, the W data with reduced gradation becomes common data. The common data is data that determines the discharge amount of white ink for each pixel, and is used in common for each of a plurality of scans executed in overlapping printing. The error diffusion process is a known process for dropping data of 256 gradations to print gradations. In the present embodiment, since the print data is represented by binary values of “1: eject” and “2: not eject”, the gradation data is reduced to binary data. However, when the printing apparatus 30 can process multi-value print data (for example, when large, medium, and small droplets can be sorted), the CPU 10 reduces the gradation to ternary or higher data. There is also. Note that gradation reduction may be performed using a method other than the error diffusion method. Next, print data creation processing is performed (S9). In the print data creation process, print data for driving the printing apparatus 30 is created according to the CMYKW data with reduced gradation and the set printing conditions and printing method. When the print data creation process ends, the main process ends.
  In the case of causing the printing apparatus 30 to perform overlapping printing, in the conventional technique, print data for controlling the operation of the printing apparatus 30 is created for each scan. Therefore, the processing load on the PC 1 is increased and the amount of print data is increased as compared with the case where duplicate printing is not executed. In particular, the PC 1 needs to perform a thinning process for each scan when creating multi-pass print data. The thinning-out process is a process for controlling the ink discharge amount by thinning out the ink discharge in each of a plurality of scans according to a predetermined algorithm with respect to a pixel determined to discharge ink. By performing the thinning process for each scan, the processing load on the PC 1 increases. When a mask pattern (thinning pattern) used for performing the thinning process is created for each scan, the processing load on the PC 1 further increases. In the present embodiment, the CPU 10 can easily create common data for W that determines the amount of white ink discharged for each pixel. Since the created common data can be used in common for each scan in overlapping printing, the amount of data is small. The CPU 10 does not need to create data for each scan and does not need to execute the thinning process for each scan. Therefore, the CPU 10 can quickly create print data with a small processing load.
  The print data creation process will be described with reference to FIGS. As shown in FIG. 12, first, it is determined whether or not the required number of scans n is 2 or more (S51). When the required number of scans is 1 and the white ink density is printed at a normal density (S51: NO), print data is created in the same manner as in the prior art (S52 to S54). That is, if the setting for executing multi-pass printing is performed (S52: YES), multi-pass CMYKW printing in which the ink ejection pixels of each scan are thinned out by the thinning process using both white ink and color ink. Data is created (S53). If setting is made not to execute multi-pass printing (S52: NO), CMYKW print data for executing printing in a single mode is created (S54). Thereafter, the print data creation process ends. If the setting of the number of heads used is “0”, the print data created in S53 and S54 is CMYK print data.
  When the required number of scans n is 2 or more and white ink is printed at a high density (S51: YES), ink is ejected at each scan from the white ink head 35W mounted on the carriage 34 by the printing apparatus 30. The white ink head 35W to be used (used) is determined (S56 to S59). Specifically, it is first determined whether or not the number of mounted heads (S30, see FIG. 7) is greater than the number of used heads (S56). When the number of mounted heads is the same as the number of used heads (S56: NO), all the white ink heads 35W mounted on the carriage 34 are used for all scanning, so the process directly proceeds to S60. If the number of mounted heads is greater than the number of used heads (S56: YES), it is determined whether or not the user has designated the used head (S57). When the user causes the specific white ink head 35W to eject white ink, the user inputs the white ink head 35W to be used to the PC 1 in advance. For example, when some of the plurality of white ink heads 35W are out of order, the user can input the white ink head 35W that is not out of order as a use head. When the use head is designated (S57: YES), the designated white ink head 35W is determined as the white ink head 35W used in all the scans (S58). The process returns to the print data creation process.
  When the use head is not designated (S57: NO), the same number of white ink heads 35W as the number of used heads is selected from the plurality of mounted white ink heads 35W for each scan executed a plurality of times. A head to be used is randomly determined (S59). By executing the processing of S59, printing is executed while the white ink head 35W that discharges white ink is changed. Therefore, the PC 1 can prevent the ink from drying at the nozzles 36 without using the specific white ink head 35W for a long time, and can improve the printing quality. The possibility of ink clogging also decreases. Next, a high-density print data creation process for discharging white ink at a high density is executed (S60), and the print data creation process ends.
  The high-density print data creation process will be described with reference to FIG. First, the characteristics of multi-pass print data created by the high density print data creation process will be described. As described above, in multi-pass printing, printing is executed by scanning different nozzles 36 for each pixel row, so that the influence of various variations is reduced and print quality is improved. In multi-pass printing, the number of times that different nozzles 36 are scanned in the same pixel row (hereinafter referred to as “pass number”) is increased (that is, the number of nozzles 36 is used to form one pixel row). The effect of variation is significantly reduced. In the high-density print data creation process, the print quality is improved by using the above characteristics. The number of passes that can be set in multi-pass printing is limited according to the number of nozzles 36 provided in each ink head 35. Specifically, unless the number of passes is a divisor of the number of nozzles 36, the control of multi-pass printing becomes complicated. In the present embodiment, since the number of nozzles 36 included in each ink head 35 is 128, the number of passes that can be set is limited to “2, 4, 8, 16,...”. Therefore, if the required number of scans n does not match the number of passes that can be set in multi-pass printing, duplicate printing can be performed by combining multiple multi-pass printing, combining multi-pass printing and single printing, etc. Need to be executed. In this case, in the high density print data creation process, optimum print data is created in consideration of both print quality and print efficiency.
  As shown in FIG. 13, when the high-density print data creation process is started, “1” is set to the print unit number R (S81). In the following description, when printing is executed by a single method in which one of a plurality of nozzles 36 included in each ink head 35 is scanned once for one pixel row without performing multi-pass printing, single printing is performed. One scan in the system is defined as one printing unit. Further, a plurality of scans of each multi-pass method executed for the settable number of passes are set as one printing unit. For example, in the example shown in FIG. 14, the fourth to seventh four-pass scanning is set to the printing unit R = 1. The second and third two-time multi-pass scanning is performed with the printing unit R = 2. The first single-type scanning is performed with the printing unit R = 3.
  The required number of scans “n” is set in the remaining processing required number S (S82). The remaining processing required number S is the number of scans in which corresponding print data has not yet been created (scans to which print data needs to be allocated) among a plurality of scans executed for the required number of scans n.
  Next, the maximum number of passes P that is equal to or less than the remaining number of required processing S is extracted from the settable number of passes (S83). In the example shown in FIG. 14, the number of paths that can be set is “2, 4, 8,...”, And the initial value of the remaining processing required number S is 7. The maximum number of paths “4” out of “2, 4” is extracted as the first P value.
  It is determined whether or not the set printing unit number R is “1” (S84). If R is “1” (S84: YES), among the plurality of scans that are executed only n times as many times as necessary, consecutive P scans including the last (nth) scan are the last of the printing operation. Is set to the final printing unit which is the printing unit to be executed (S85). In the final printing unit, W print data for overlapping and printing white ink by the multi-pass method is created from the common data (S86). In the process of S86, the common data of W is used in common for a plurality of scans, but the W print data is created so that the nozzles 36 that eject white ink to each pixel row are different for each scan. Therefore, by using the common data, the CPU 10 can easily create W print data with a small amount of data without performing a thinning process. Next, CMYK print data for printing the color ink having the normal density equal to or lower than the unit density in the final print unit by the multi-pass method is created (S87). In the process of S87, a thinning process is executed in each scan. Since the thinning process is a known process, this description is omitted.
  Next, the number of scans “P” at which the print data allocation has been completed is subtracted from the value of the remaining processing required number S (S92). It is determined whether or not the required processing remaining number S is “0” (S93). If S is not “0” (S93: NO), “1” is added to the value of the printing unit number R (S94), and the process returns to S83. In the example shown in FIG. 14, the value of the required process remaining number S is 3 in the process of S <b> 83 executed for the second time. Therefore, the maximum number of paths “2” that is equal to or less than the number of remaining processing required S is set as the value of P.
  If the set printing unit number R is not “1” (S84: NO), it is determined whether or not the pass number P has been extracted in the process of S83 performed immediately before (S89). When the pass number P is extracted (S89: YES), P consecutive scans executed immediately before the printing unit of “R-1” (that is, the printing unit set last time) are the printing unit R. It is set (S90). In the example illustrated in FIG. 14, the print unit “2” is set to the second and third scans that are executed immediately before the previously set print unit “1” (final print unit). Next, in the set printing unit R, W print data for overlapping and printing high density white ink by the multi-pass method is created from the common data (S91). As a result, the printing apparatus 30 executes multi-pass printing a plurality of times (a plurality of sets). The process proceeds to S92.
  If the number of passes P is not extracted in the process of S83, multi-pass printing cannot be executed for the remaining scans. That is, when printing is completed only by the multi-pass method, the required number of scans n needs to match any of the settable number of passes or the sum of the number of passes. If this condition is not satisfied (S89: NO), W print data for printing the remaining scan (the first scan in the present embodiment) in a single mode is created (S96), and high-density print data creation processing is performed. Ends. Therefore, the PC 1 can easily create print data that can obtain good print quality regardless of the required number of scans n. In the example shown in FIG. 14, in the process of S <b> 83 that is executed for the third time, the value of the required process remaining number S is 1. Therefore, W print data for executing single printing in the printing unit “3” (first scan) is created. If it is determined in S93 that the remaining processing required number S is “0” (S93: YES), the processing for all the scans executed n times is completed, and thus the high-density print data creation processing ends.
  In S96, there are various methods for combining the single method with the multipath method. For example, before executing multi-pass printing, the white ink nozzles 36 may be scanned once for all pixel rows. Also, the single-pass method and the multi-pass method may be combined by repeating the first scan in the main scanning direction of the multi-pass method that is executed first without executing the scanning in the sub-scanning direction. In the example illustrated in FIG. 14, in the first scan, any of the plurality of nozzles 36 included in each white ink head 35 </ b> W is scanned once for all the pixel columns by the single method. Next, multi-pass printing with the number of passes “2” is performed, and only white ink is overprinted twice. Next, multi-pass printing with the number of passes of “4” is performed, and printing with white ink overprinting and color ink thinning is performed simultaneously. The white ink head 35W enters the print area before the color ink heads 35C, 35M, 35Y, and 35K. Therefore, the color ink is ejected onto the print area where the white printing is completed.
  According to the high-density print data creation process, white ink (high-density ink) and color ink (normal density ink) in a plurality of scans (final print unit) including the last scan among a plurality of scans executed n times. ) Are discharged together. As a result, at least the uppermost surface of the white print surface is formed by multi-pass printing, so that the print quality of the white ink is improved. In the final printing unit, since the color ink is also ejected by multipass printing, the printing quality of the color ink is improved. Furthermore, since multi-pass printing is performed in the process of overlapping printing for increasing the density of white ink, there is no need to increase the number of scans of the carriage 34 in the main scanning direction, and printing efficiency is high. Therefore, even if the minimum value of the number of passes that can be set (“2” in the present embodiment) and the necessary number of scans n for overlapping printing do not coincide with each other, the PC 1 uses both white ink and color ink efficiently and with high quality. It can be executed by the printing apparatus 30.
  According to the high-density print data creation process, when multiple multi-pass printing is executed, the number of multi-pass printing executed in the final printing unit is the largest of the multi-pass printing passes. . As a result, the top surface of the white ink and the color ink are formed by multipass printing with a larger number of passes. Therefore, the PC 1 can cause the printing apparatus 30 to efficiently perform printing with higher quality. Further, according to the high density print data creation process, multi-pass printing with a large number of passes is executed more frequently. Therefore, the PC 1 can improve the print quality as compared with the case where a large number of multi-pass printings with a small number of passes are executed.
  As described above, the PC 1 according to the present embodiment can print the white ink at a high density while printing the color ink at the normal density when the white ink and the color ink are simultaneously printed. In this case, the PC 1 performs processing so that the white ink is ejected using the multi-pass method, and the color ink is also printed using the multi-pass method in the course of the white ink multi-pass printing operation. When ejecting ink having a density higher than the unit density U, it is necessary to scan the carriage 34 a plurality of times to form each pixel column. Accordingly, the nozzles 36 of the color ink heads 35C, 35M, 35Y, and 35K are also scanned a plurality of times for each of the pixel columns. Therefore, when the multi-pass method is used for discharging white ink, the printing efficiency (printing time and power consumption) does not change depending on whether the multi-pass method is used for discharging color ink. The PC 1 can cause the printing apparatus 30 to execute high-quality printing more efficiently than the case where only the white ink is ejected by the multi-pass method by ejecting the color ink by the multi-pass method.
  Even if the settable number of passes and the required number of scans n do not match, the PC 1 according to the present embodiment can perform multi-scanning in a part of scanning in the main scanning direction that is performed a plurality of times when white ink has a high density. Automatically include pass printing. That is, “using the multi-pass method” in the present invention is not limited to the case where all the scans are executed by the multi-pass method, and includes a case where the multi-pass method and the single method are combined. The PC 1 automatically creates print data for printing the white ink (overprinting) and the color ink (thinning) together in a multi-pass method in at least a part of the scan executed n times. Therefore, the PC 1 can cause the printing apparatus 30 to execute high-quality printing efficiently. When the color ink is ejected on the white ink, the printing unit for simultaneously printing the white ink and the color ink by the multi-pass method is the final printing unit as shown in FIG.
  Further, according to the high density print data creation processing, the number of passes of multi-pass printing in color ink is executed last (that is, in the final printing unit) among multi-pass printing of white ink executed once or a plurality of times. This is the same as the number of passes of multipass printing. It is also possible to make the number of passes of color ink multipass printing smaller than the number of passes of the final printing unit. However, by matching the number of passes of color printing with the number of passes of the final printing unit, the influence of various variations can be reduced more significantly, and the print quality of color ink can be further improved.
  In the above embodiment, the PC 1 corresponds to the “print data creation device” of the present invention. White ink corresponds to “partial ink” and “high density ink”, and color ink corresponds to “normal density ink”. The CPU 10 that acquires gradation data in S2 and S3 in FIG. 6 functions as the “data acquisition unit” of the present invention. The CPU 10 that determines whether or not n is 2 or more (whether or not the white ink has a high density) in S4 of FIG. 6, S42 of FIG. 11, and S51 of FIG. 12 functions as a “determination unit”. The CPU 10 that creates the W print data in S86 of FIG. 13 functions as a “high density data creation unit”. The CPU 10 that creates CMYK print data in S87 of FIG. 13 functions as “normal density data creation means”.
  The CPU 10 that receives an instruction to select whether or not multi-pass printing is necessary in S18 in FIG. 7 functions as an “instruction receiving unit”. The CPU 10 that creates CMYKW print data in S53 of FIG. 12 functions as “selection data creation means”. The CPU 10 that prohibits acceptance of the selection instruction in S43 of FIG. The CPU 10 that executes the display control process shown in FIG. 11 functions as “display control means”. The HDD 14 corresponds to “storage means”. The CPU 10 that stores the contents of the selection instruction in the HDD 14 in S19 of FIG. 7 functions as a “storage control unit”. The CPU 10 that acquires the unit density U in S14 of FIG. 7 functions as a “unit density acquisition unit”. The CPU 10 that receives the input of the maximum density in S21 of FIG. 7 functions as an “input receiving unit”.
  The process of acquiring gradation data in S2 and S3 in FIG. 6 corresponds to the “data acquisition step” of the present invention. The process of determining whether n is 2 or more (whether the white ink has a high density) in S4 of FIG. 6, S42 of FIG. 11, and S51 of FIG. 12 corresponds to a “determination step”. The process of creating W print data in S86 of FIG. 13 corresponds to a “high density data creation step”. The process of creating CMYK print data in S87 of FIG. 13 corresponds to a “normal density data creation step”.
  It goes without saying that the present invention is not limited to the above-described embodiment, and various modifications are possible. In the above embodiment, the process for setting the printing conditions and the process for creating the print data are performed by the PC 1 that is an external device of the printing apparatus 30. That is, the PC 1 of the above embodiment corresponds to a “print data creation device” of the present invention. However, the PC 1 can operate as a print data creation device. For example, the printing apparatus 30 itself may execute the main process shown in FIG.
  The processes described in FIGS. 6 to 14 may be executed by a plurality of devices in the printing system 100. For example, in the above embodiment, when the number of mounted heads is smaller than the candidate number of used heads, the PC 1 outputs an error (see S32 and S33 in FIG. 7). However, it is not necessary for the PC 1 to output an error. More specifically, the PC 1 creates print data without executing the processes of S32 and S33 in FIG. 7, and transmits the created print data to the printing apparatus 30. The CPU 40 of the printing apparatus 30 may read the number of used heads from the received print data and output an error on the printing apparatus 30 side when the number of mounted heads is smaller. In this case, the printing apparatus 30 may store the number of mounted heads in advance, or may acquire the number of mounted heads using a switch, sensor, or the like that detects the mounting of the white ink head 35W. Further, in the main process (see FIG. 6), the setting process (S1) can be executed by the PC 1, and the processes of S2 to S9 can be executed by the printing apparatus 30. In this case, the PC 1 may transmit the set printing conditions and printing method to the printing apparatus 30. Alternatively, two PCs 1 may be used, one PC 1 may execute the printing condition setting process (S1), and the other PC 1 may execute the processes S2 to S9. As described above, each processing described in the above embodiment may be executed by any of the devices in the printing system 100, and the processing may be shared by a plurality of devices.
  The PC 1 of the above embodiment combines the multi-pass method and the single method when the number of settable passes, or the sum of the settable passes and the required number of scans n do not match, Multi-pass printing of color ink is executed by the multi-pass method. However, when executing multi-pass printing, the PC 1 may complete printing only by multi-pass printing. In this case, the required number of scans n may be set so that the required number of scans n matches the settable number of passes.
  In the above embodiment, when the white ink is not set to a high density, the user can select whether or not multipass printing is necessary. However, the present invention can be applied even when the user cannot select the necessity of multi-pass printing. Even in this case, the PC 1 can cause the printing apparatus 30 to efficiently perform high-quality printing by automatically printing the color ink using the multi-pass method while increasing the density of the white ink using the multi-pass method. .
  Since the PC 1 of the above embodiment creates print data for multi-pass printing for white ink using common data, it is possible to easily create print data. However, the method of creating print data for multi-pass printing can be changed. For example, the PC 1 may create multi-pass print data for white ink by performing a known thinning process.
  The PC 1 of the above embodiment prohibits acceptance of the necessity selection instruction by graying out the display of necessity of multi-pass printing (see S43 in FIG. 8 and FIG. 11). However, it goes without saying that the method of prohibiting acceptance of selection instructions is not limited to grayout display. For example, the PC 1 may erase the display indicating whether multipass printing is necessary. The PC 1 may prohibit the acceptance of the selection instruction by invalidating the operation of the check box 69 while maintaining the display of the necessity of multi-pass printing. In addition, when the white ink has a high density, the PC 1 of the above embodiment can notify the user that multi-pass printing is to be executed by graying out with the check displayed in the check box 69. However, the PC 1 can also delete the check when graying out.
  Needless to say, the format and gradation of various data such as image data can be changed. For example, the format of the image data acquired by the PC 1 in S2 of FIG. 6 is not limited to the sRGB format, and the gradation is not limited to 256 gradations. Similarly, the data format and gradation of gradation data are not limited to 256 gradations in the CMYKW format. The present invention can be applied even when a color material other than CMYKW (for example, orange) is used. The print data can also be multi-valued (3 gradations or more). Further, the PC 1 may directly input gradation data in CMYKW format from another device without inputting image data in sRGB format.
  In the above-described embodiment, the printing system 100 capable of setting the white ink to a higher density than the unit density is exemplified. However, the application of the present invention is not limited to the case where the white ink can have a high density. As in the case of the white ink, the present invention can be applied to the case of using an ink that desirably performs high density printing in order to obtain a good color development. For example, the present invention can be applied to a case where a solid silver color is applied to the background without a gap.
  The printing apparatus 30 according to the above embodiment can be equipped with a plurality of white ink heads 35W that discharge exactly the same white ink. However, the present invention can be applied even when the printing apparatus 30 is equipped with a plurality of ink heads 35 that eject different colors of similar colors. For example, the printing apparatus 30 may be equipped with a plurality of white ink heads 35W having slightly different ink colors. In this case, the user can designate only a desired white ink head 35W according to the color of the white ink, and can simultaneously eject ink from a plurality of white ink heads 35W. Needless to say, the number of nozzles 36 provided in each ink head 35 is not limited to 128.
  In the above embodiment, the printing conditions specified by the user are the number of heads used and the maximum density. However, the printing conditions that can be specified by the user can be changed. For example, the user may be able to specify resolution, image brightness, and the like.
  In the above embodiment, the maximum density is designated by the user as shown in S21 of FIG. Therefore, the user can execute white printing at a desired density. However, the present invention can be realized without having the user specify the maximum density. For example, the PC 1 may store in advance a maximum density suitable for the color, material, and the like of the recording medium, and automatically set the maximum density suitable for the recording medium to be printed. When creating image data, maximum density data may be added to the image data. The present invention is applicable even when the maximum density is a fixed value and only the unit density is changed. In addition, when the maximum density is designated by the user, the method for accepting the designation input can be changed as appropriate. For example, the PC 1 may cause the user to directly input a numerical value of the maximum density using the keyboard 3 or the like. The PC 1 may allow the user to input the color of the recording medium and set the maximum density according to the input information.
  In the above embodiment, the user directly designates the number of heads to be used on the printing condition / printing method input screens 61 to 63 (see FIGS. 8 to 10). However, the PC 1 may cause the user to specify model names and the like of a plurality of printing apparatuses 30 with different numbers of mounted heads, and set the number of mounted heads corresponding to the specified model name as the number of used heads.
  When the candidate for the number of heads to be used is “0”, the PC 1 of the above embodiment grays out the display of the maximum density on the printing condition / printing method input screen 63 (see FIG. 10), so that the maximum can be specified. It is prohibited to display the concentration. The grayout method is also used when changing the range of the maximum density that can be specified (see FIG. 9). However, the method for restricting the display of the specifiable states is not limited to grayout. For example, the maximum density candidate itself may be hidden. In consideration of the convenience of the user, it is desirable to change the printing condition / printing method input screens 61 to 63 according to the candidate values for the number of heads used as in the above embodiment. However, it is also possible to use a printing condition / printing method input screen common to a plurality of heads used.
  In the above embodiment, in S15 of FIG. 7, the minimum number of scans that must be performed to perform printing with the maximum density M is determined as the required number of scans n. Therefore, the PC 1 can prevent the printing time from becoming unnecessarily long. However, the present invention can also be applied to the case where the required number of scans n is determined to be equal to or greater than the minimum number of scans that must be performed.
  In the above embodiment, the white head to be used is randomly determined for each scan in S59 of FIG. As a result, the possibility that the nozzle 36 of the specific white ink head 35W dries is reduced. However, the method for determining the white head to be used may be changed. For example, the PC 1 may change the used white head every time a predetermined number of scans (for example, five scans) are performed instead of every scan. The white head used may be changed every time print data is created. The PC 1 may determine according to a predetermined order without randomly determining the white head to be used.
  In the high density print data creation process shown in FIG. 13, the PC 1 of the above embodiment maximizes the number of passes of multipass printing executed in the final printing unit. As a result, the top surface of the white print surface and the color print surface are formed by multi-pass printing with a large number of passes, and the print quality is further improved. Furthermore, the PC 1 can further improve the print quality of white by causing the printing apparatus 30 to perform as many multi-pass printings as possible with as many passes as possible. However, even if the multipass printing is executed only in the final printing unit, the printing quality (particularly, the color printing quality) is improved as compared with the case where the single printing is performed in the last scanning. Therefore, for example, when multi-pass printing is executed a plurality of times, it is possible to make all the multi-pass printing passes the same number. Further, the specific processing content of the high-density print data creation processing shown in FIG. 13 may be changed. For example, after performing processing (see S85 to S87) for executing multi-pass printing in the final printing unit, performing processing (S96) for executing single-type printing for all the remaining scans, S89 to S94. Processing may be omitted.
1 PC
2 Monitor 10 CPU
14 HDD
30 Printing device 34 Carriage 35 Ink head 35W White ink head 35C, 35M, 35Y, 35K Color ink head
36 nozzle 39 platen 40 CPU
61-63 Printing condition / printing method input screen 100 Printing system

Claims (11)

  1. A print data creation apparatus that creates print data used in a printing apparatus that prints on a recording medium by scanning a carriage mounted with a plurality of ink heads that eject different inks relative to the recording medium. And
    Data acquisition means for acquiring gradation data, which is data indicating a gradation value for each pixel, for determining a discharge amount per unit area of each of the plurality of inks;
    The maximum value of the density of some of the plurality of inks is higher than the unit density that is the maximum density that can be ejected by scanning the carriage once for each of the pixel rows arranged in the main scanning direction. A judging means for judging whether or not the concentration is high;
    When the determination means determines that the maximum density of the partial ink is a high density, a high density ink, which is an ink to be a high density, is used as a different nozzle among a plurality of nozzles of the ink head. A gradation value of the high-density ink indicated by the gradation data acquired by the data acquisition means, the print data ejected using a multi-pass method in which printing is performed by scanning the same pixel row a plurality of times High density data creation means created from,
    When the determination unit determines that the maximum value of the density of the part of the inks is a high density, normal density ink that is normal density equal to or lower than the unit density is selected from the plurality of inks. A print data creation apparatus comprising: normal density data creation means for creating the print data to be ejected at the normal density by a method from the tone value of the normal density ink indicated by the tone data.
  2. Instruction accepting means for accepting an instruction to select whether to create the print data of the multi-pass method;
    When it is determined that the maximum density of the partial ink is not set to a high density by the determination unit, and a selection instruction for creating the multi-pass print data is received by the instruction reception unit, Selection-time data creation for creating the print data for ejecting all of the plurality of inks at the normal density by the multi-pass method from the gradation values of each ink indicated by the gradation data acquired by the data acquisition means The print data creation apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising: means.
  3.   The apparatus further comprises a prohibiting unit that prohibits the instruction receiving unit from accepting the selection instruction when the determining unit determines that the maximum density of the partial ink is a high density. Item 3. The print data creation device according to Item 2.
  4. A display control means for displaying on the display means whether or not acceptance of the selection instruction by the instruction acceptance means is prohibited by the prohibition means and whether or not to create the print data of the multi-pass method;
    The display control means includes
    When the determination by the determination unit is changed from determination that the maximum value of the density of the partial ink is not high density to determination of high density, the print data of the multi-pass method is created. The print data creation apparatus according to claim 3, wherein a message indicating that the acceptance of the selection instruction is prohibited is displayed.
  5. A storage control means for storing in the storage means the selection instruction received by the instruction receiving means;
    The display control means includes
    When the determination by the determination unit is changed from the determination that the maximum value of the density of the partial ink is set to a high density to the determination that the density is not high, the print data of the multi-pass method is not created. If the selection instruction is stored in the storage means, the display indicating that the print data of the multi-pass method is to be created is changed to a display not creating, and the acceptance of the selection instruction is not prohibited. The print data creation apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the print data creation apparatus is displayed.
  6. Unit density acquisition means for acquiring the unit density of the part of the ink;
    Input receiving means for receiving an input of a maximum density which is a density of the partial ink in a pixel having a maximum gradation value of the partial ink indicated by the gradation data acquired by the data acquisition means; In addition,
    The determination means increases the maximum value of the density of the partial ink depending on whether or not the maximum density received by the input reception means is higher than the unit density acquired by the unit density acquisition means. 6. The print data creating apparatus according to claim 1, wherein it is determined whether or not the density is set.
  7.   The normal density data creating means creates the multi-pass print data for performing the same number of scans as the multi-pass scan in the print data created by the high density data creating means. The print data creation apparatus according to claim 1.
  8.   The print data creation apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the part of the ink is white ink.
  9.   In the carriage, the plurality of ink heads that eject the part of the ink are arranged side by side in the main scanning direction, and are shifted in the sub-scanning direction with respect to the ink head that ejects the part of the ink. The print data for controlling the printing apparatus in which a plurality of the ink heads that discharge the normal density ink are arranged in the main scanning direction is created. The print data creation device described.
  10. In order to create print data used in a printing apparatus that performs printing on the recording medium by scanning a carriage on which a plurality of ink heads that discharge different inks are mounted relative to the recording medium, the print data A print data creation program executed in a print data creation device for creating
    A data acquisition step of acquiring gradation data, which is data indicating a gradation value for each pixel, for determining a discharge amount per unit area of each of the plurality of inks;
    The maximum value of the density of some of the plurality of inks is higher than the unit density that is the maximum density that can be ejected by scanning the carriage once for each of the pixel rows arranged in the main scanning direction. A determination step for determining whether or not the concentration is high;
    In the determination step, when it is determined that the maximum value of the density of the partial ink is a high density, a high density ink that is an ink to be a high density is used as a different nozzle among a plurality of nozzles of the ink head. The print data to be ejected by a multi-pass method in which the same pixel row is scanned a plurality of times to perform printing is created from the gradation value of the high-density ink indicated by the gradation data acquired in the data acquisition step. Creating high concentration data,
    If it is determined in the determination step that the maximum density of the partial ink is high, normal density ink that is normal density equal to or lower than the unit density is selected from the plurality of inks. An instruction for causing the controller of the print data creation apparatus to execute a normal density data creation step of creating the print data to be ejected at the normal density from the tone value of the normal density ink indicated by the tone data according to a method A print data creation program.
  11. A printing apparatus that prints on the recording medium by scanning a carriage mounted with a plurality of ink heads that discharge different inks relative to the recording medium;
    A printing system comprising: a printing data creation device that creates printing data used in the printing device,
    Data acquisition means for acquiring gradation data, which is data indicating a gradation value for each pixel, for determining a discharge amount per unit area of each of the plurality of inks;
    The maximum value of the density of some of the plurality of inks is higher than the unit density that is the maximum density that can be ejected by scanning the carriage once for each of the pixel rows arranged in the main scanning direction. A judging means for judging whether or not the concentration is high;
    When the determination means determines that the maximum density of the partial ink is a high density, a high density ink, which is an ink to be a high density, is used as a different nozzle among a plurality of nozzles of the ink head. The print data to be ejected by a multi-pass method in which printing is performed by scanning the same pixel row a plurality of times is created from the gradation values of the high-density ink indicated by the gradation data acquired by the data acquisition means High density data creation means,
    When the determination unit determines that the maximum value of the density of the part of the inks is a high density, normal density ink that is normal density equal to or lower than the unit density is selected from the plurality of inks. A printing system comprising: normal density data creating means for creating the print data to be ejected at the normal density by a method from the tone value of the normal density ink indicated by the tone data.
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