Historically only available to commercial print, the past several years have afforded new and exciting print applications in the digital inkjet print industry, which includes soft-signage and textiles. As print buyers’ needs evolve into this space, software vendors must be continually investing in R&D to provide solutions to meet those needs. Two areas that Print Service Providers (PSPs) should consider when expanding into soft-signage or textile print is color management and finishing tool controls within the RIP software.
Achieving good quality and consistent color output has been a challenge for digital textile PSPs because standards have not been adhered to nor practiced in wide-format inkjet printing. However, competitive environments and print buyers’ color output expectations force PSPs to focus on color output accuracy.
The recent announcement of iccMAX is just one example of a color standard the International Color Consortium (ICC) recommended for all wide-format print applications, including soft signage and textiles. Color management tools within RIP software, then, must include feature sets to help PSPs achieve accurate, consistent color output across devices for all print applications that conform to color standards globally. PSPs, then, may wish to look for a RIP software that includes features such as:
- A color engine designed specifically for wide-format print
- ICC profiling with iccMAX v5 capabilities
- Integrated G7 verification
- A tool to easily match print buyer brand colors
- A tool to prove color output accuracy
- Process controls to ensure consistent output over time
- Reporting and tests for standards matching such as G7 and Fogra
- A set of controls to manage color consistency across devices and media substrates
- A single RIP technology to limit color changes between design file and finished product
Finishing tools are the other area PSPs may wish to evaluate when considering a RIP software for textile print. The finishing work for wide-format is very different from general commercial printing. There are manual steps involved in lamination and sewing. Using tools such as routers and other cutting devices add complexity to setting up print work. Because of the variety in print applications that can be produced in wide-format, each product may have different needs for pre-press, production, and finishing. However, RIP software can be incredibly useful in helping prepare a file for printing and cutting, automating manual tasks, and truncating the finishing work necessary to produce a final product.
Solutions that provide easy tools to produce patterns, tiles, bleed, grommets, sewing marks, and automation capabilities from file-open through to print (and even post-print) saves time and reduces the likelihood of manual errors. In addition, automated processes can positively impact production capabilities, enabling the ability to print more jobs per day, directly affecting the bottom line.