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Coolest Variable Data Print Project in the World


 I guess we weren’t the only ones to think this was a very cool project. It’s now a multiple award winner! In the spring it won the Print Innovation Award from the Ontario Printing and Imaging Association (OPIA). And after careful consideration, we are happy to announce that it is also a winner of the prestigious Benny award from the U.S. PIA (Print Industry Association) Awards.

2016 Benny Awards

Benny Award – Coolest Variable Print Project in the World awarded to Prime Data

We do a lot of variable data printing (VDP). As a data company that prints, we’re the first choice for clients with a wide range of customization needs.

But by far the most complex – and coolest – work we do is with Nutrigenomix.

Nutrigenomix is a University of Toronto start-up biotechnology company that provides their clients with comprehensive, reliable, genomic information to improve health through personalized nutrition.

Here’s their tagline…

Nutrigenomics: The study of how individual genetic variation affects a person’s response to nutrients and impacts the risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases.

IMG_2364The  Nutrigenomix® test kit enables healthcare professionals to counsel their clients according to their unique genetic profile by analyzing samples collected using saliva kits. These samples are then genotyped at a CAP and CLIA accredited lab, and Prime Data creates the customized reports for distribution.  The books give beautifully illustrated diet and health guidelines based upon the genetic markers for each patient.  They counsel patients on how their body uses things like protein, folic acid, vitamin C, etc.

So the science is cool.

But the extent of the print customization is just as cool.  It’s not brain surgery, as they say, but as close as it gets in the printing and mailing world.

Our job is to take the results from the labs and transpose them into the, variable imaging, multi-stock booklets in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish (with more to come) and then ship them around the world and/or provide digital versions of the documents.

That may not seem like a big deal. But the results booklets not only have to have be multilingual, but they also have to be able to accommodate right to left reading as found in languages such as Arabic and Chinese. This requires completely different bindings than you would find in an English book. The page count ranges from 12 to 24.

Each patient gets one of two, or both, reports. One is diet-related, i.e. – how you process folic acid, vitamin C, etc.  The shorter report deals with gluten-handling genetic markers

And all this happens in a turnaround time of just 24 hours!

So how is this possible?

It all starts with an upload of data from the lab using an encrypted FTP connection.  We merge that with a lookup table of variable text and image rules and the outcome is a data file has that drives the printed document that has 256 fields that describe the genetic information for variable printing.  An average variable print letter might have a dozen data fields.

Since we are working with an extremely personal dataset, privacy is paramount. So in addition to the secure FTP, data never includes the patient name. We only receive an ID number and, in some cases, the patient’s first name.

When the print job is finished we mail the completed booklet to the doctor’s office so they can contact the patient directly to discuss the outcomes.  This requires some careful picking and packing of the orders so that we get the correct languages sent to the right locations around the globe, some get one and other multiple copies, and others just the digital versions by portal.  The logistics include rush courier and ground mail depending upon the destinations.  There’s a lot to keep in order after the VDP magic is done.

In all cases, the health professional also receives a low-resolution pdf via a secure web portal requiring a login.  The doctor gets an email indicating the booklet is ready for viewing. This serves as the cue to call the patient for their follow-up appointment.

This degree of personalization was once cost and time prohibitive. But with our VDP resources, we are able to tackle tricky jobs and we put the experience gained in these more complex jobs to have refined processes and quality control for all our work.

Just imagine the applications in your industry.  Not all of them will be this complicated, but if they are, you’ll be in good hands. If you’ve got something, then give us a call and let’s talk!

You can visit the Nutrigenomix website at

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