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Weighing in on the RIP

(April 2014) posted on Tue Apr 15, 2014

Six RIP companies address trends in workflow, scalability, the Cloud, integration with other tools, and much more.

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When it comes to RIPs and workflow, you have many, many choices. And while it’s certainly helpful in considering any shop tool or supply to drill down into its specs and specific features, it’s also critical to look at how that tool’s use might be changing.

We asked several RIP companies – Caldera, GMG, Onyx, SAi, Wasatch, and Xitron – to address a variety of RIP and workflow trends we’ve spotted across the marketplace. Here’s what they had to say. (And if you're looking for detailed specs on third-party RIP solutions for your shop, check out our RIP charts in our digital edition, featuring data on more than 50 RIP and workflow solutions.)

Q: These days, there’s RIP software and then there’s workflow software – how do the two differ? Or do they?

Xitron: They do. The easiest way to think about this is that a RIP is going to interpret PostScript or PDF and rasterize the data for output. A workflow, on the other hand, may do several different things to the file – either before or after the rasterization process. For example, a workflow may contain modules for preflighting, ink re-mapping, imposition, proofing, or output distribution in a semi- or fully-automated way, carrying the job through the prepress department.

Onyx: RIP software is ideal for smaller print service providers new to the printing industry, because it offers the basic tools needed to prepare images for production printing and finishing. As a print shop grows, however, it will begin to encounter challenges that a single-station RIP solution simply cannot address – such as having consistent, predictable output across all of its devices. Workflow software builds upon the strengths of RIP software by adding the ability to scale production as a business grows and providing tools for improving the overall production process. Additionally, workflow software provides greater predictability through a consistent solution across all of a shop’s print and finishing equipment.
SAi: The biggest difference between the two is scalability. True RIP workflow solutions are like “print factories” that spread the production steps across multiple computers, with central color management and job routing to many printers and cutters. RIP software does everything from job preparation, color management, print, and cutting on a single computer system. Small to medium print providers with fewer than three printers and cutters find this to be the most efficient and cost-effective.