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At the Heart of a RIP

Features that Drive PSPs’ Decisions

Part 1 of 3

By Kim Crowley

Large, multi-layered design files often drive projects like billboards, vehicle graphics, signs, and building wraps. Raster image processing (RIP) software transforms data from unwieldy incoming graphics files to bitmap images that are clean and ready to print.

RIPs interpret print files and specifications. They speed processing, eliminate errors, and produce exceptional, repeatable quality. Some solutions are scalable, allowing print service providers (PSPs) to add functionality as business grows. Many are marketed as major color management tools and others focus on efficient image processing.

Today’s RIPs further address the need for efficiently by managing a variety of jobs simultaneously. "Print quality and time to market are key factors and excellent differentiators over the competition," says Roland Campa, product manager, graphic arts solutions, EFI.

In this rapidly changing market, users must offer versatility to customers. PSPs own printers, as well as vinyl cutters and even CNC routers that require RIPs. "These days customers request cut vinyl for company cars, engraved into name plaques, and carved into wood for a deluxe sign in the entrance door. The ideas are endless, but end users benefit with only one software package," agrees Gudrun Bonte, product manager, SA International, Inc. (SAi).

"PSPs look to support a variety of different production workflows," adds Michael Chramtchenko, director of marketing, CADlink Technology Corporation.

To help users better manage workflow, production, and bottom line vendors provide tools to enhance output—colors that please clients, fast output to optimize square foot output per hour, and tools to better organize their business," says Sebastien Hanssens, VP, marketing, Caldera Graphics.

Users look for specific qualities in a RIP including advanced trapping, hybrid screening options, virtual proofing, and Web-to-print capabilities.

John Pannozzo, president, ColorByte Software, says customers look for RIP features that allow reduce supporting applications and plug-ins. "If the RIP can do this it saves time in the post-production phase of printing."

"PSPs search for ways to help cut production costs, work smarter, and control output," notes Dean Derhak, director of product management, ONYX Graphics, Inc.

The Heart of the RIP
Without a robust RIP, a large format PSP would be unfit to operate. Some RIPs are designed for specific printers, others work well with a variety of other devices. Some are scalable; some are color and proofing specialists; some offer features that enhance speed and workflow.

Continuing reading our RIP Q series to learn more about technology in action and latest product enhancements. The May issue of Digital Output expands further on part one of this three part series by focusing on color and efficiency features found in RIPs.

Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.

Apr2010, Digital Output
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