A print service provider’s (PSP) large format printer may look sleek on the outside, but on the inside, a robust RIP manages monster size files. A RIP controls speed, color accuracy, and consistency—resulting in profitability.
“For any type of wide format production a RIP is essential,” states Michael Chramtchenko, director of marketing, CADlink Technology. “There is no other way to process large files, ensure color fidelity, or produce graphics in wide variety.”
Robert Eisfeld, president, Eisfeld Datentechnik GmbH & Co. KG Kšln, agrees. “A large format RIP is absolutely obligatory for large format printers to work productively. A RIP provides control over media usage, cut marks, and cropping.”
“The fundamental benefit of a RIP is two fold. It allows you to address a broader selection of prospective customers and a broader selection of existing customers’ needs,” says Jill Taylor, director of corporate communications, Global Graphics Software Ltd. Global Graphics supplies Jaws and Harlequin RIPs through several OEM partners.
All large format PSPs need a RIP. The question is which one is the best fit. Prospective buyers should consider the benefits of several RIPs before finalizing
“Saving time and money should be two of the biggest goals for PSPs in today’s economy,” says Ashley Schaumburg, marketing coordinator, Wasatch Computer Technology, LLC. “With the ability to print to multiple printers simultaneously, send off multiple files in nested layouts, and achieve colors using powerful half toning methods, a large format RIP is a necessity in today’s competitive environment.”
High-quality output is essential to please and maintain clients. “It is important to keep output quality consistent. RIPs help the structural management of different papers and resolutions,” notes Juan Kim, CEO, VALLOY Incorporation. VALLOY’s TOPAZ RIP Version 10 includes a new engine to support 12-color separation and additional color management options, such as spot replacement and gray balancing tools.
A RIP is a large proponent in controlling color. Worrying that a client’s red isn’t the requested red is unnecessary if the correct software is implemented. The right large format RIP provides a PSP with “consistent colors, including corporate or brand colors,” notes Alexander Kattner, product marketing manager, EFI.
Color leaves room for continuous improvement. Version 5, due out late 2009, of the Evolution RIP series from DigiFab Systems, Inc. features new color editing features for independent images, shares Marty Silveira, sales manager, DigiFab.
With a RIP, PSPs are able to deliver predictability, suggests Kattner. Color, quality, and more are not variable components if a shop implements the correct RIP solution.
Shopping Based on Fit
Whether or not a RIP meets the needs of the shop is an important consideration. This is something all PSPs should think about, shares Dana Goodale, director of software solutions, Gerber Scientific Products, Inc (GSP).
GSP offers its own versions of ONYX RIPs. ONYX ProductionHouse Gerber Edition and ONYX PosterShop Gerber Edition supports cutters, such as the Gerber M Series.
PSPs must keep profit in mind when deciding on a RIP. “All RIPs have similar features. Shop owners need to look at how a particular RIP increases productivity, reduces cost, and delivers outstanding results,” says Dean Derhak, product director, ONYX Graphics, Inc.
A RIP’s function automation is also important says Logan Herbert, director, business development, Fusion Systems International. This includes automation of PDF Preflight, RGB and spot conversion to CMYK, rich black to 100 percent black conversion, and file ganging for media optimization.
Workflow considerations are of particular importance when choosing a RIP, notes Chramtchenko. “How well does the RIP handle a variety of different production requirements, for example multiple substrates—roll, rigid, paper, textile, or vinyl,” he adds. CADlink’s Digital Factory Version 2 is a complete RIP software workflow solution featuring CADlink’s multi-queue, multi-printer system referred to as Visual Production Manager. “The queue acts as a complete production management tool and accepts files printed directly from most design applications,” says Chramtchenko.
A RIP with the ability to handle a shop’s entire group of production equipment saves time. Investing in a RIP that supports all printers and cutting devices gives shops a competitive edge.
“Too often print shops make the mistake of using a RIP included with each different printer, which means running two or three RIP products in one shop. This fragmented workflow makes it difficult to generate consistent color across devices,” shares Derhak.
ONYX PrepEdge Pro software, announced early this year, is designed to help print shops automate production and reduce the time required for large format job preparation. The ONYX PrepEdge suite works with all RIP software.
Xitron, Inc.’s Navigator GPS utilizes a Harlequin RIP and a Xitron developed workflow solution called RIP Manager. Bill Owens, product marketing director, software and interface group, Xitron agrees with Derhak. “Having multiple RIPs, especially based on different core technologies, can result in problems with color consistency and font issues. Utilizing a single RIP or workflow to drive all devices reduces or eliminates these common problems.”
PosterJet 8 from Eisfeld Datentechnik is a solution for Canon U.S.A., Inc., Epson, and Hewlett-Packard aqueous large format printers. PosterJet is available in three editions with different printing widths—24, 44, and 60 inches. PosterJet 8 SimuPrint technology allows simultaneous printing to multiple printers from a single office PC. Due to revolutionary line-by-line InstantPrint printing technology, almost no RIP downtime occurs, even when printing to multiple printers, says Eisfeld.
Roland DGA Corporation’s VersaWorks 3.1 features advanced print server functions allowing users to manage up to four Roland inkjet devices simultaneously. VersaWorks 3.1 also supports Roland’s GX series cutters, so professionals are able to manage print and cut operations when paired with a VersaArt printer.
Users should also consider RIPs that reduce training time. For example, EFI’s Fiery XP RIP is equipped with a user-friendly interface and tutorial wizard, designed to shorten learning curves, regardless of operator skill level. Features such as font checkers decrease errors and save time.
“PSPs should look for RIPs that expand the range of products they offer without a steep learning curve. Users should also focus on features that reduce waste and manual processes,” states Hiroshi Ono, product manager, Roland. For example, Ono says a RIP with variable data capabilities means large jobs are tailored for individual buyers or locations without the need to recreate files.
“Time is money and a PSP wants no downtime or delays. A RIP needs to be flexible enough to scale to production capacity,” agrees Sebastien Hanssens, VP of marketing, Caldera Graphics. Caldera manufactures the Copy, Visual, and Repro RIP product lines.
RIPs to Grow
PSPs must also consider scalability. Should they buy based on current needs and add on later or purchase a full solution right away? The decision depends on a number of factors including printer quality, workload scale, average file size, color control requirements, and budget.
Ramin Shahbazi, business development director, AIT International, suggests a PSP invest in only what they need and upgrade when necessary. AIT’s Shiraz RIP offers a clear and easy upgrade path that allows users to update as needs arise, with a minimum learning curve. “Our products cater to the smallest users with a professional desktop printer, right up to a major PSP with many output devices with varying complexities and sizes,” Shahbazi adds.
“PSPs should purchase scalable RIP solutions so they can get what they need today with the ability to add additional features as their needs change. Add-ons streamline workflow, improve production and efficiency, and expand revenue generating opportunities,” explains Herbert. Fusion Systems’ newest release is ColorRay Version 8, a full feature high-speed Harlequin-based proofing RIP.
Scalability is a great benefit for cost savings during uncertain economic times. “Everyone is feeling the financial squeeze, and it’s natural to feel more comfortable buying a solution you can afford. Start with the product level you currently need, and then when your business is ready to expand, it’s easy and affordable to upgrade,” comments Gudrun Bonte, printing product manager, SA International, Inc (SAi).
SAi’s latest software solutions are PhotoPRINT 6.1 Version 2 and FlexiSIGN-PRO 8.6 Version 2. With the newest upgrade, SAi introduced a significantly improved Color Profiler, featuring beneficial enhancements to workflow and productivity. Also modified, SO Diffusion technology and a 16-bit workflow.
Wasatch offers an upgradeable product path for its SoftRIP line that allows for all ranges of production. “Whether a user is entering into the large format printing market or is a hardened professional, we provide a solution that expands as business grows,” says Schaumburg.
Some companies feature one solution without add-ons. “We only believe in selling full versions. We value our product as a whole not on a feature-by-feature basis,” explains John Pannozzo, president, ColorByte Software. ColorByte’s ImagePrint Version 8 began shipping in April 2009.
Coordinating RIP and workflow solutions is also an option. “PSPs should know that there are combination RIP and workflow solutions out there that are very affordable and don’t require multiple workstation configurations, yet provide advanced prepress features and powerful device control,” shares Arthur Verwey, VP of worldwide marketing, XantŽ Corporation.
Xante’s Symphony Workflow RIP allows users to create print queues and specify output device, media, resolution, linescreen, trapping, crop marks, linearization, and more. “Once these standard settings are applied, every job in that queue goes through the same workflow process, ensuring consistency throughout the production cycle,” adds Verwey.
The Right RIP
The right RIP bolsters a shop’s productivity. “RIPs are the most important piece of printing. A good quality RIP provides all the control required to produce prints,” states DigiFab’s Silveira.
A RIP saves time, which in turn saves money. It creates consistent output, ensuring predictable quality and color. As a shop grows, the right RIP grows along with it. Scalability is essential when planning RIP implementation. Be sure to research which printers are compatible with each solution before making a final decision. A RIP should work with all of a shop’s current and future digital devices.
Visit our Web site, www.digitaloutput.net, to learn more about the RIP solutions mentioned here, as well as additional products. Read The Latest RIPs, a Web exclusive, found in the current editorial section on our site.