A traditional raster image processor or RIP software takes the ‘code’ from a design file and renders the information contained within it into dots of ink to be printed. However, world-class RIP software products today do so much more than basic image handling. RIP software can take design and pre-press steps and make them automatic and repeatable. What this means for a print shop is with the right solution, Print Service Providers (PSPs) can trust that what will print matches their customer’s expectations for quality and color.
For PSPs in the apparel print industry, for example, RIP software with automation, nesting, and color management tools can make production a much easier process. Automation helps remove manual errors and speeds up production capacity; nesting features such as automatic nests, image tracing, double-sided printing, large previews or ways to conserve media help speed production while reducing waste; and color management tools help optimize output to meet customer brand color needs so the design matches the printed product. Add in the ability to meet color standards or synchronize color output across devices and that ‘RIP’ solution starts doing the multiple tasks above and beyond rasterizing the image.
Automation and color management are two areas that have seen a lot of interest from Print Service Providers in recent years and so RIP software that doesn’t offer these functionalities may fall short of meeting the needs of modern print shops.
RIP Software for automating print and cut workflows
The importance of automation and more importantly, implementing automated print processes upfront, helps PSPs be equipped to provide their customers with cost-effective and quality output that meets their needs in a timely manner. PSPs tend to think big when it comes to automation, but a better trend is to think lean. Automating tasks such as image scaling, rotation, bleed, grommets, sewing marks, tiles, and cut paths saves valuable print production time across entire print and cut workflows as well as long term operating costs.
Similarly, with color management, if a printed product doesn’t look like the provided artwork it can be costly to a PSP, both in wasted ink and media for reprints as well as the potential loss of repeat business. Color management controls within RIP software helps bring together what colors are being asked in the design file against what is available from the printer. Without this capability, it is impossible to compare what is wanted with what can be produced, creating wrong color output.
These are just two examples of how RIP software does more than just RIP an image. These tasks or capabilities are also necessary for today’s’ RIP software. As more verticals are afforded to the digital inkjet print industry, RIP software is likely to evolve to meet the needs of PSPs and their print buyer customers with new and diverse feature functionalities outside of the traditional RIP.
This article is written by Jonathan Rogers, International Marketing Manager of Onyx Graphics