By Melissa Donovan
RIPs manage and translate files to printed output. Today’s solutions support the entire workflow process by integrating with multiple software programs. Although there is an increase in popularity for an all-encompassing solution, many manufacturers still offer a dedicated RIP product.
A standalone RIP is not for every print service provider (PSP). In today’s market, it is still viable but use depends on the complexities of the organization, volume of work, and cost considerations. Commonly, a dedicated RIP is implemented by a novice PSP, someone looking to run a smaller setup, just getting into the trade, or one with a targeted application set.
The Need for Simplicity
When addressing the need for a standalone RIP in today’s marketplace, vendors will agree that there is a place for this type of product.
A dedicated RIP is seen for its added value and simplicity of integration, says Jeff DiToro, senior global software product manager, Roland DGA Corporation. He shares that they are generally marketed as a plug-and-play option and bundled with a printer. DiToro says this option offers ease of use in areas of installation, setup, configuration, and operation.
“This type of solution is good for an end user who is keen to start printing because all he has to do is wait until the delivery of a new printer to start the production. It also simplifies the support efforts of a printer manufacturer,” advises Thomas Kirschner, CEO/founder, ColorGATE Digital Output Solutions GmbH.
Offering this ease of use right out of the box, a dedicated RIP is a viable option. “Many print providers, at first, want the comfort of knowing that they have purchased a complete, turnkey solution for that one printer, with all of the correct drivers and controls,” shares Bart Fret, director of sales – large format, GMG.
Opportunity for standalone RIPs exists in shops with a basic workflow and lower volumes of complicated jobs. “RIP software users that have a simple workflow or prefer to manage their workflow independently lean toward a dedicated RIP. Dedicated RIP software allows flexibility for both the user and dealer to customize specific solutions,” says Ashley Wanlass, senior marketing specialist, Wasatch Computer Technology.
Price also affects staying power. Dedicated RIPs are sold for less than an integrated workflow solution in most cases. “Costs continue to drop, including subscription options that cost less than $50 a month for RIP software that normally costs over $5,000. Also, an end-to-end workflow software backend is an additional expense, which requires training and changes established processes. For PSPs with one or two wide format printers, a dedicated RIP solution is still more cost effective. It’s attractive to smaller PSPs that don’t do enough volume to justify converting to a complete workflow solution,” explains Dean Derhak, product director, SA International.
“Not all shops can afford the whole workflow bundle, especially after spending several thousand dollars on an imaging unit. That’s why it is important for simple RIPs to be upgradeable/convertible into full workflow systems later,” agrees Bret Farrah, EVP, Xitron.
Not every print provider requires a RIP that is integrated into a larger workflow solution. Sometimes a less complicated process necessitates a basic solution. Various scenarios present opportunity for a print provider to use a dedicated, standalone RIP.
It depends on how specific a PSP is looking to get in its output. “Print providers looking for a RIP that excels in a particular area, such as spot color management, or specifically for an industry such as textiles often invest in dedicated RIPs,” says Steve Smith, owner, DPInnovations Inc.
Sebastien Hanssens, VP marketing, Caldera, agrees, stating that dedicated RIPs include more options, drivers, and features for improving productivity.
Not only application specific, a dedicated RIP is ideal for the small-sized PSP. “Standalone RIP customers are generally smaller shops that appreciate the advantage of a quick, out-of-the-box solution, where no programming or customization is required,” explains Ken VanHorn, director, marketing and business development, Mimaki USA, Inc.
A small company that might be able to manage with standard accounting and spreadsheet software programs, for example, is a scenario where production operations stay fairly distinct from overall business management needs, according to Christian Schowalter, senior marketing manager, Fiery wide format, EFI.
Bryan Manwaring, director of product management, ONYX Graphics, Inc., agrees. “Standalone RIPs tend to be in smaller or first time shops with only one or two printers, or shops with a lower volume of jobs. Workflow solutions become more important once managing several—or faster—printers with higher volumes of jobs.”
“Smaller PSPs are wasting their money buying a workflow RIP if they don’t have the larger workflow solution to support it,” advises Derhak.
“Dedicated RIPs offer benefits to smaller businesses, which often lack the resources and know how to setup, configure, and support advance workflow RIPs. Getting the printer operational and producing jobs is their primary objective,” adds DiToro.
There are very distinct environments where a dedicated RIP will flourish and help a print provider’s production excel. Smaller operations with lower volumes and less complex workflows welcome the ease of use and simplicity found in a dedicated or standalone RIP. Likewise, a novice print provider just entering the graphic arts would turn to this software solution as a means to quickly get up and running.
Also, print shops focused on specific applications may prefer a solution that isn’t part of a larger, integrated workflow component. These scenarios provide reason enough that a dedicated, standalone RIP is still viable in today’s market.
May2015, Digital Output