What is a RIP Software?
Short for Raster Image Processing, RIP Software is used in the digital printing industry to ensure that printers deliver consistent, color correct, high quality output. While the name mainly refers to the image rastering process, i.e. processing an image file through a color management routine and then sending it on to the printer, modern RIP Software solutions (Sometimes referred to as Soft RIPs) such as the ErgoSoft RIP deliver a host of other functions and features to increase productivity and quality in digital printing applications such as textile printing, wide format printing, fine art reproduction, etc.
Generally, RIP Software can be thought of as production assistants that automate and control many areas of the printing workflow to ensure the best print output in the most efficient and cost effective way possible.
While there are nearly endless features and possibilities, the main functions of a RIP can be grouped into 4 categories:
Job Composing / Layouting / Editing
Most RIP software solutions also feature a graphic editor component (in ErgoSoft RIP this is called the JobComposer), that allows users to import images and place, arrange and edit images on a graphic surface to define how they should appear on the printed medium. This also includes: Editing features of the ErgoSoft RIP include scaling, rotation, tiling, automated nesting of multiple image files on the medium to minimize waste or to facilitate easier cutting. Of course, ErgoSoft also offers more advanced features such as color replacement, masking, Step & Repeat, various nesting functions etc.
Only a few RIP software solutions come with an integrated ICC profiling software such as the ErgoSoft. With a so-called profiler, users can create custom color profiles for their printer/ink/media/parameter combinations that they use. An ICC profile is created by printing and measuring charts with a color measurement device, also called spectrophotometer.
By measuring said charts, the profiler analyses the printer’s behavior in terms of ink application, etc. and can then automatically adjust ink application and color recipes for printing to ensure that users get exactly the colors they expect.
Perhaps the most important part of any RIP Software is the Raster Image Processing itself, which renders the image file(s) of any supported file type or size to the required printer resolution and ensures fast, accurate color reproduction through color management. The entire image processing routine is thereby optimized to improve speeds for processing image files compared to just outputting them via the device driver of the manufacturer while applying the color adjustments from the color profile to provide optimal quality while getting the most out of the ink and medium.
Since already processed data can be saved and stored, printing multiple copies of an image/job or reprinting old jobs with the exact same data becomes trivial. The existing rastered data can simply be re-used ensuring quick output and color accuracy, as the data does not need to be processed again.
RIP Software such as the ErgoSoft RIP often also comes with a suite of tools to help manage and overview the production process across all connected printers by adding, deleting or re-prioritizing jobs on the fly. Handling multiple printers simultaneously can be cumbersome when working with just the generic computer drivers or having to deal with several manufacturer specific interfaces. A RIP Software unifies the production queue, allows users to prepare, process and print to multiple printers at the same time, regardless of type and manufacturer.
The ErgoSoft RIP even features cost calculation and tracking tools for users to keep track of costs of media, ink and manpower for individual printers and jobs across their entire production.
Who needs a RIP?
RIP Software can be a huge benefit to just about anyone that uses digital printing in a commercial way. From photographers creating their own prints looking for quality improvements on their existing equipment to print manufacturers looking to make their workflows more efficient and cost effective.
For more information on the ErgoSoft RIP and what sets it apart from other products in the field, check out the ErgoSoft RIP section.