Raster image processing—or RIP software as it is more commonly known—is an essential part of the wide-format workflow process. It’s the connection between the pre-press department and the production department and can offer valuable, time-saving features—if you’re making use of them. With new improvements, savvy users can interface RIP software with their MIS system to glean important data—from ink and media usage numbers, to real RIP and print processing times—to aid in making more efficient operations.
Are you making the best use of your RIP software? We asked several software developers what they thought the best and most under-used features of their products are. We also asked them to put on their foretelling hats to outline where they see the industry going in the next year. To get a glimpse of the RIP software products currently on the market, please visit MyPrintResource.com and download a PDF of the 2011 RIP Resource Chart.
1. What do you consider the most under-used feature of your software?
Dean Derhak, director of marketing, Onyx Graphics: One of the most under-used tools in ONYX RIP software is the Quick Sets feature. Quick Sets are very easy to use and give shops a more automated workflow by reducing manual intervention, and can also reduce errors. Many high-production facilities already know and rely on the benefits that Quick Sets give them, but many small- to medium-sized print shops do not take full advantage of Quick Sets. Quick Sets enable users to build unique workflows for specific customers or file types. Quick Sets can be selected by prepress operators right in their design software to assure production automation. Each Quick Set also corresponds to a hot folder that can be used from anywhere on the network.
Thomas Kirschner, managing director, ColorGATE Digital Output Solutions GmbH: This would be our MDS (Media Device Synchronization) feature. It is standard in all our Productionserver 6 packages and assures an accurate re-calibration of any connected printer towards its initial reference state.
This is how it works: User outputs a small color target with approximately 250 patches, reads it in with any spectrophotometer. The MDS function automatically updates a correction Device Link profile that compensates for any changes in my device from shifts in ink, media, or printer condition. This takes less than 10 minutes and ensures that the output being produced is consistent.
Raimar Kuhnen-Burger, marketing manager IPA, EFI: The comprehensive finishing tool set to drive and control cutting, routing tables and Print & Cut devices.
Ashley Schaumburg, marketing coordinator, Wasatch Computer Technology, LLC: A feature in Wasatch SoftRIP that is overlooked, but has a huge impact in production time, is our Memory Tuning preference. If the user is running a dual or quad-core computer, they can increase the maximum RIP count to two or four, respectively. This allows Wasatch SoftRIP to RIP multiple images simultaneously, therefore increasing production time. This is especially useful when there are multiple images in the layout screen.
Ramin Shahbazi, business development director, Shiraz Software: The client/server ability and various client applications included.
2. What is the one biggest benefit to wide-format printers who use your software?
Derhak: Our customers tell us the biggest benefit they get from using ONYX RIP software is the confidence that they will get outstanding color and reproducible, high-quality results with the least amount of time and hassle.
Print providers also benefit from our unique features such as our accurate soft-proofing and PowerChroma color tools that save shops ink and reduce overall printing costs. We focus our new feature development on tools like these that improve the bottom line for wide-format print shops.
Kirschner: This is most probably our Ink Saver Option. It is an optional addition that re-separates on-the-fly the color separations being rendered by our RIP. The result is a lesser ink consumption of up to minus 30 percent and 15 percent in average for typical wide-format imaging products. We have customers that have lowered their ink expenses by $5,000 and more per month.
Kuhnen-Burger: Highest color quality (accurate and consistent output) combined with greater productivity and maximum performance.
Schaumburg: One of the biggest benefits to using Wasatch SoftRIP is the ease-of-use and our streamlined workflow. Wasatch gives users powerful tools to work more efficiently, while providing new users an easy interface that they can learn and use immediately. Our easy-to-navigate interface makes job setup and color management simple. With Wasatch SoftRIP, you have multiple options for simplifying your workflow—Wasatch Port Redirector, Wasatch ImageNET, and our Hot Folders.
3. What kinds of developments do you think we’ll see next in RIP software within the next 12 to 18 months?
Derhak: From ONYX RIP software, expect to see more workflow automation capabilities, innovations that deliver vastly superior consistent color, and tools that better complement new printers and printing technologies.
With the latest release of ONYX RIP software, we focused on just these things: the ability to easily create G7-compliant calibration curves and output, an optional JDF module that for automation with other JDF enabled components, and the ability to quickly profile white-ink printers.
Kirschner: RIP software as such will disappear and become part of a total workflow concept from job submission all the way through to final print product delivery. RIP software will transform to an invisible and automated background process that interlinks with all relevant process steps.
Kuhnen-Burger: Integrated workflow solutions from submission to output based on JDF/JMF communication as productivity/automaton, job and cost tracking becomes more and more important. At the 12th annual Connect users’ conference in Las Vegas end of April this year, EFI already demonstrated such type a solution where jobs run through the Digital StoreFront web-to-print solution, to both EFI Pace and EFI Monarch print MIS systems, to Fiery XF production RIP, and then to a new EFI VUTEk printer.
Shahbazi: As cloud computing becomes more widespread and communication links get better and faster, more and more of the software will reside in the cloud and become more centralized. Software on demand is a growth area and will affect the RIP market with consumers running RIP software off the web for their printing.