He noted that some RIPs don’t come with an automatic Pantone spot-color matching capability, so shops waste time and consumables trying to manually match critical spot colors. Shops can see tremendous productivity and color output improvement with the small investment in better RIP software—even with its existing printing hardware.
Derhak warned, though, that it’s also important that shops keep their RIP software updated, so they keep up with the latest file formats and software improvements that can reduce their productions costs and improve print quality—even on older printer equipment. “That small investment in software maintenance pays for itself in productivity gains over time,” he said.
There has been a strong demand in the past 12 to 18 months for RIP software improvements that will help shops reduce their costs and help them stay competitive in the marketplace.
“For many, the status quo just isn’t working anymore,” said Derhak. Manufacturers have heard their pleas and have responded.
Onyx has focused all of its RIP software improvements on providing more automation, color consistency, and business information to the customer, which directly addresses their bottom-line challenges.
“In our new RIP software (Onyx ProductionHouse, Onyx PosterShop, and Onyx RIPCenter) version, X10, we added automated print-and-cut workflows and automated color profiling, which dramatically reduce production lead times,” said Derhak. “We also added an innovative Smart 16-bit processing technology that maximizes job-processing speed while enhancing image quality.”
Onyx also introduced a very useful production-tracking tool to its RIP software called Onyx PrintMetryx. “We built this because we observed many print shops that did not have an easy way to view their job costs and production trends for all of the printers in their workflow.”
Many RIP developers have started to include features that are more operational-based than they are production-based, according to Eversole, and a few others have taken a decidedly different track by making RIPs that are easier to use.
“They are less of a science project than RIPs of the past,” he said. “At the end of the day, simple solutions work and great prints sell.”
ColorBurst has introduced Overdrive, the company’s next generation of RIPs.
“Overdrive takes sophisticated color management technology often found in brute-force RIPs and combines it with the finesse of an RGB workflow,” explained Eversole. “This new methodology makes color configuration easier than ever.”
Eversole claimed that in the case of today’s extended six (CMYKOG) and seven (CMYKRGB) color gamut devices, taking advantage of an RGB workflow allows Overdrive to deliver better color transforms, wider color gamut, and overall higher quality images and graphics than traditional CMYK RIPs.
As well as extended color gamuts delivered by extra inks, more and more printers have white-ink capabilities. “These need dedicated drivers with solid color management,” said Chris Schowalter, director of technology and service at GMG. “We recently announced a partnership with Roland to provide device-link color management technology to provide accurate color, including the white ink.”
EFI Fiery XF, EFI’s professional production inkjet RIP solution, improved the company’s patent-pending EFI Dynamic Wedge technology, which extracts, verifies, and optimizes job-specific colors and leads to perfectly reliable print results. EFI Fiery XF also introduced a new RGB workflow for Epson and Canon devices that leads to fast RIPing times and brilliant saturated colors, smooth gradations and lots of details.
“With EFI Print & Cut and the EFI Cut Server, two new product options have been introduced that handle the path from the print to the final print product, including automated cut path extraction and control of the cutting device and routing tables,” said Campa. Additionally, EFI Fiery XF provides flexible handling of white and gloss layers for printers supporting these additional inks, leading to eye-catching print products with 3D-like effects.
With EFI Web Control Center, EFI introduced a Web-based solution for job distribution and control between remote sites using EFI XF solutions. “It provides centralized monitoring of EFI XF solutions, printers, output and measuring results and is a link between any geographically remote sites participating in the global supply chain,” said Campa.