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RIP Roundup

In-Depth Information on Top-of-the-Line Solutions

Part 3 of 3

By Kim Crowley

Raster image processing (RIP) software transfers data from graphic files and creates a bitmap image that is ready to quickly and accurately print. Here, several leading RIP vendors share highlights and recent enhancements regarding core products.

Agfa Graphics’ JetiSoft RIP supports all Jeti printers, a technology now part of the Agfa portfolio following the 2010 acquisition of Gandinnnovations. JetiSoft Version 2 is a fully featured OEM-RIP powered by ErgoSoft. Highlights include an Advanced Cut-Option, i-cut support, enhanced tiling, visual color spot replacement tools, eyelets, shrinkage compensation, and outstanding dithering controls. The JetiSoft RIP also includes job costing, PostScript-interpreter, and print production management with job center and print job queue viewers. It comes with 16-bit, spectrally based density linearization with advanced ink restriction options, total ink limiting, light ink control, and re-linearization. JetiSoft includes a high-end, built-in ICC output profiler—ColorGPS—designed to let users create accurate and colorful media profiles within a very short time. Over 100 media profiles were created during the last two years and are available through a built-in software downloader.

CADlink Technology Corporation offers FilmMaker Version 2, Digital Factory Version 2, and SignLab Print & Cut Version 8 RIPs. The company recently enhanced Digital Factory to include completely integrated cutting functionality. Print and cut production workflows are natively supported directly from design applications such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and CorelDraw.

Caldera Graphics’ solution is regarded as a production oriented RIP, driving multiple printers simultaneously and RIPping while printing. Caldera Graphics recently launched Version 8, optimized for X-Rite, Inc.’s i1Prism color management engine and the Adobe PDF Print Engine. The Adobe PDF Print Engine option enables integrated, end-to-end PDF workflows for printing graphically rich content, including variable content for personalized publishing. The Caldera print solutions powered by Adobe PDF Print Engine allow PDF files to be rendered natively, without conversion to PostScript, helping to ensure complex designs and transparency effects.

March 2010 marks the release of the new ColorBurst Systems’ Overdrive RIP Macintosh Version 1.1. ColorBurst Overdrive provides the same simple workflow of the ColorBurst X•Proof. Overdrive is shared as a RIP server; provides a job queue for easy job management; features input CMYK, RGB, and grayscale ICC profiles; uses printer driver output ICC profiles; and allows for custom RGB output ICC profiles. ColorBurst Overdrive dynamically sets media width and length. In addition, ColorBurst X•Proof Macintosh Version 6.1.3 was upgraded to support the latest releases and updates of Apple Snow Leopard and Adobe CS4. The PC Version 9.3.1 was upgraded to support Microsoft Vista and Windows 7, as well as the latest Adobe CS4 products.

ColorByte Software’s ImagePrint Version 8 RIP is designed with a focus on image quality as well as high-quality, out-of-the-box support for over 400 different substrates.

Fujifilm utilizes the ColorGATE Fujifilm Gold Edition RIP to drive all of the company’s wide format devices. It supports parallel processing, meaning it’s capable of RIPping multiple jobs for multiple output devices simultaneously. In addition, if a press is idle, ColorGATE redirects that RIP resource to a printer that is busy. The solution also boasts an ink saving feature. Relatively new to large format, ink optimization technology is familiar in the offset world and print providers can expect to see a 15 to 20 percent savings on ink usage with this optional module.

Compose Systems Limited’s Express RIP Version 8 is a native PostScript, PDF, and XPS RIP. It is customizable to meet various output requirements. A high-end proofing solution, Compose Star Proof, uses the same one-bit TIFF files that are used to create printing plates to create proofs. Star Proof RIP is based on Harlequin’s Scriptworks—a fast and reliable RIP engine. It is now able to drive Epson’s Stylus Pro WT7900 printer.

DigiFab Systems, Inc.’s Evolution RIP is scheduled for a major upgrade later in 2010, but the current version has several enhancements. These include additional support for new printers, for example the Canon U.S.A., Inc. imagePROGRAF ipF8300 and 6300, as well as enhancements to current printers like the Mimaki USA, Inc. JV5 and DigiFab’s StampaJet. The StampaJet can be driven with two new production modes that are significantly faster through enhanced software algorithms. Other enhancements include improved compatibility with Mac and PC client front end.  

In February 2010, EFI released Colorproof XF and Fiery XF Version 4.1 RIPs. Highlights include comprehensive cutting engine support for a one-stop production solution, extension of supported printers, enhanced color handling, and enhanced Dynamic Wedge—a technology for verification and optimization of key colors within individual jobs.

Four Pees NV acquired PerfectProof’s ProofMaster and PrintFactory software related activities in mid 2009. In February 2010, Four Pees began offering Version 4 of PrintFactory and ProofMaster. This marks the first major upgrade since Four Pees took over exclusive sales and marketing rights and aims to increase the color accuracy and production efficiency of its users. PrintFactory Version 4 builds further on the idea of being more than just a RIP but rather a complete solution that covers all aspects of large format production from file preparation to output and finishing. PrintFactory supported devices include new devices from Canon, the Hewlett-Packard Scitex FB7500, a series of Kongsberg cutting tables from EskoArtwork, Roland DGA Corporation’s VersaUV LEC-300 and –330 printers, and more. PrintFactory Production Editor offers advanced tiling, white space in overlaps, bleed per panel, and panel numbering.

The Fusion Systems International ColorRay RIP is engineered to take advantage of the latest quad-core and dual quad-core hardware to provide the fastest file processing speed. ColorRay runs on the latest versions of Mac OS X Snow Leopard. The RIP supports custom ICC profiles, advanced anti-aliasing, and can output one-bit or eight-bit TIFF files. Most recently, ColorRay includes output to native Durst Image Technology US LLC’s Lambda and Rho file format. Add-on features include trapping and virtual proofing.

Global Graphics Software Ltd. offers the Harlequin RIP and Jaws RIP. The PostScript Language Level 3 compatible Harlequin RIP was first used in a commercial system in 1988. The Harlequin PLUS Server RIP Version 8.1 is the latest evolution of the Harlequin RIP. Added features in this release include native processing of PDF 1.7, XPS 1.0, and PDF/X-4 files; support for Pantone Goe; HD photo support; and multithreaded rendering designed to helps remove RIP bottlenecks in handling raster data.

Mimaki’s RasterLink Pro5 is the latest generation RIP software attached standard with the Mimaki JV, CJV series, and UJV-160 series printers. The RIP features 16-bit rendering, designed to generate smoother gradients. A new Web update function is added for attaining software updates and profile downloads. Continuous print and cut is available for the Mimaki CJV-30 series.

ONYX Graphics, Inc. announced its latest version RIP products, Version X1, at the April 2010 ISA trade show in Orlando, FL. Key enhancements center on cost-saving features like fully automated print-and-cut workflows, fast media color profiling, and easier color management. Version X10 product feature a unique Smart-16 bit processing feature, which automatically maximizes processing speed on 16-bit file while maintaining image quality.

Roland VersaWorks Version 4.0 incorporates a number of productivity tools and improvements including the latest Adobe PostScript Engine for improved performance and file compatibility. VersaWorks now features error diffusion, the Roland Metallic Color Library System for easy matching of metallic spot colors, and the Roland Texture Library System for gloss or matte textures for customers using the VersaUV line of UV inkjet printer/cutters. New ink usage and print time estimation tools allow users to effectively manage production time and costs.

SA International, Inc. (SAi) offers PhotoPRINT and Flexi RIPs. The software is modular, allowing users to add extra modules as business grows. Flexi and PhotoPRINT enables file editing right from the RIP queue. The user opens the file in a design program to correct. Once saved, the file will appear in the print queue with every setting still configured and ready to be sent to the printer. Most recently SAi  implemented multiple contour cut, allowing users to not only define separate contour paths, but also assign different line styles to these paths. With this feature users can make half-cut and through-cut contour jobs, even if the cutter itself does not have this feature.

SCP Software GmbH offers various configurations of the DaylightRIP. The most recent features include compliance with Windows 7, improved color management through gamut mapping, intuitive print modes, and PS Reader 9.3 integration.

Shiraz Software offers a spectrum of RIP solutions from the smallest to the largest setup, with a logical and economical upgrade path. For instance, Shiraz Signature is aimed at customers running a single large format printer in their operation, while Shiraz Focus is designed for professional photographers. Features of Shiraz RIPs include full support for spot and multi-channel output and true RIP on the fly with accurate, color managed output. All Shiraz RIP products now include the Adobe PDF Library in their core RIPping engine for full compatibility with the latest PDF specifications, as well as Windows 7 and Mac OSX 10.6 compatibility.

VALLOY Incorporation’s TOPAZ RIP Version 9.5 contains a new annotation tool, white layer creation options, and curve editing tools for variable dot curves and light color curves. The next version is planned to include a cost proofing option and an internal CMYK profiler.

Wasatch Computer Technology’s SoftRIP Version 6.6 features the new Wasatch Tracer that allows users to create contour cut paths or generate white ink plates directly within SoftRIP. This gives users complete control of the contour path creation process and eliminates the need for a third party graphics application to create cut paths. The Tracer also provides a streamlined workflow for creating underlays, overlays, varnishes, second surface prints, and other non-color separations directly in Wasatch SoftRIP.

Xitron offers a RIP that is capable of driving many different products across many different formats from simple proofing to the latest CtP and direct imaging presses. The company made some significant changes in its RIP and workflow product lines in 2009, especially in the proofing. Xitron TotalProof certification consists of a RIP plug-in or separate proofing RIP for an Epson printer, color profiles tuned specifically for proofer and papers, Xitron X1 media or other supported papers, and the supported Epson Stylus Pro 7900 or 9900 devices.

Robust RIPs speed accurate, high-quality data to large format printers. View our target chart and a feature article in the May issue of Digital Output for product listings and pricing.

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, At the Heart of a RIP.
Click here to read Part 2 of this exclusive online series, RIPs in Action.

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

Apr2010, Digital Output
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