When it comes to the raster image processing (RIP) software inside of wide-format inkjet print devices, understanding the options, the technology, and the market opportunity is essential to making the right choice for your shop’s next equipment purchase. This year’s coverage looks at workflow integration trends shaping wide-format shops across North America and the world.
“We guide our customers based on their requirements and the type of work they’re producing,” says Mark Gallucci, manager of technology marketing at Agfa Graphics. “If they’re doing color-critical work, saving ganged jobs, or doing a lot of white ink/transparent projects, for example, some RIPs are more flexible while others are more rigid,” he said.
Gallucci draws prepress parallels from 10 or 15 years ago when he discusses current trends in wide-format RIPs: “We used to see more standalone RIPs driving image setters. Now we’re seeing a move toward more workflow efficiency,” he noted, adding that his firm supplies third party RIPs to Caldera, ONYX Graphics, and Wasatch Computer Technology. “This [efficiency] is essential for printers using flatbed devices and putting multiple products on the bed at the same time,” he continued. ErgoSoft software is featured in Agfa’s :Jeti line of UV inkjet printers, and Agfa also resells GMG America RIP products.
Gallucci cites GMG and EFI Fiery, which Agfa also supports, as examples of firms that have shifted to an approach featuring a network hub of RIPs using comprehensive workflow resources. “Instead of islands of front ends driving individual printers, these are full-featured suites that incorporate color management, file management, XML job submission, and other automated features,” he added.
EFI product marketing manager Chris Schowalter concurred with this trend toward full-blown workflow solutions. “The goal is to integrate smoothly and seamlessly by reducing touch points and error and increasing automation,” he said.
Fiery XF v. 5.0
The latest Fiery wide-format software helps PSPs achieve high quality prints while streamlining production workflows. This new version also enables integration with VUTEk and EFI wide-format printers, as well as with MIS/ERP systems. With the channel upgrade out for nearly three months already, “version 5 for our own products launched in late April,” Schowalter added. “We’re leading with integration, including JDF connectivity between the Fiery RIP, MIS [Pace and Digital Store Front], and VUTEk.”
Improvements have been made in the production space, Schowalter noted, including color tools from Fiery’s cut-toner side. “These have been tested for two years,” he said, “so there are no growing pains.”
One EFI customer, Category 5, improved its operations using the Fiery-to-EFI MIS/ERP integration features. “With all of the job data available at our fingertips, there is less time wasted tracking down answers,” said GM Greg Priede. “With the integration between the VUTEk printer, Fiery front end, and EFI MIS system, we see detailed job costing, and can calculate how long the printer ran versus how long the press operator took to complete the job. This allows us to address inefficiencies, reduce down time, and increase profit.”
The modular nature of the software allows customers to tailor the product to their current operation, paying only for the functionality they need now. More than 20 Fiery printer or software options allow customers to add additional capabilities as business needs evolve and budgets allow.
The Durst-Caldera partnership is now six years old. Last fall, Caldera powered four of five product-of-the-year output devices at the SGIA show. Driven by its RIP solutions were the Durst Rho P10 250, HP’s Scitex FB500, and Mutoh’s ValueJet 1638 and ValueJet 2638. “It is proof of how versatile and robust our software is that it is able to power wide-format machines of all sizes and a variety of technologies to success for these esteemed honors,” said Caldera CEO Joseph Mergui. Durst’s Rho P10 250 took home the award in the “FlatBed – Rigid Substrate UV >$200k MSRP” category for its “remarkable” versatility, productivity, and high-resolution output at 1000 dpi, matched by Caldera’s RIP solutions.