Onyx has developed an integrated 32-bit color management engine specifically optimized to address the challenges of wide-format printing, especially on new printing technologies, like UV and latex inkjet. “Shops benefit more from integrated color management, because it gives them that color consistency they need,” said Derhak. “Traditionally, it’s been very challenging for shops to achieve this color consistency for their existing and new devices, primarily because the learning curve has been steep. That’s why in the new version of Onyx ProductionHouse X10 software, we redesigned media profiling around simplicity and control.”
Caldera has addressed the strategic topic of color management by implementing the latest XRite iPrism profiling engine at the heart of its EasyMedia CMS. “The X-Rite iPrism engine enables printers to reach larger color gamuts,” said Sebastien Hanssens, vice president marketing and communication, Caldera.
Fujifilm distributes a number of RIP solutions, but they have found ColorGATE ProductionServer to be an excellent solution for their customers’ needs. ColorGATE drives over 300 different output devices including Fujifilm’s complete line-up of wide-format digital presses.
“With this product, printers are able to use one RIP and one color management system across all devices in their shop,” explained Nelson. “The ability for ColorGATE to monitor the quality and consistency of the color and verify that the press is printing to the customer’s parameters is critical to producing quality work.”
This feature allows the operator to measure against an industry standard like GRACoL or even the previously printed job and verify that the color is within acceptable tolerances. If it is outside of specification, ColorGATE can make adjustments to the profile in order to bring the color back into spec.
Integration of the overall print shop workflow is becoming more important, not just to reduce costs, but also to reduce lead times. RIP software is at the heart of workflow integration, which is why Onyx has increased the automation and connectivity of its RIP products.
“We have also recently introduced products complimentary to the RIP that provide business analytics and wide-format prepress job preparation tools,” said Derhak. “These work together with the RIP to streamline production workflow and help shops understand their businesses.”
Schaumburg believes most RIP software help the overall workflow in a shop by preparing and managing print jobs. Wasatch SoftRIP manages any print environment, from one large-format printer to a complex production plant with multiple printers.
“Our Master Queues Manager, Tiling, Variable Data Option, and Archive Tool saves time and helps the workflow really flow,” said Schaumburg.
In addition, Wasatch SoftRIP’s Hot Folders and ImageNet allow shops to use Wasatch from any computer sharing a network.
“Jobs can be resized, cropped, RIPed, and printed from any computer, even a Mac,” she said.
Caldera has an MIS called Flow+, which retrieves all the RIP information, according to Hanssens. “It retrieves the job ticket, ink used, media used, time needed to print...thus the user doesn’t have to re-enter the date in an MIS,” he said.
“Knowing that wide-format printing is about projects and not only jobs based on recipes, we have implemented hundreds of customers expertise years in a software solution made of a RIP and a MIS,” said Mergui. “The next stage will be add-on features such as Web-to-print and to open it to others using the JDF standard and complement it with external technology modules when facing needs that are not really within our expertise.”
ColorGATE has JDF capabilities that allow it to accept metadata about the job, according to Nelson. In addition, ColorGATE can capture the job-cost information such as ink and media consumption that can be used with an MIS system to track the overall cost of the job.
While Schowalter admits that JDF implementation is still not where it should be, and a full implementation in the workflow is often not possible, he said GMG has addressed this issue. “Our hotfolder functionality supports advanced filter technology, like naming conventions or ICC profiles,” he said.
Software RIP’s such as EFI Fiery XF provide a huge potential to automate workflows and provide connectivity to MIS, Web-to-print, and other applications, such as the EFI Web Control Center, which digitally distributes and controls print jobs at any location in the world, including verification and communication of results.