At its most basic, a RIP, or “raster image processor,”? is software that takes a file”?s image and text and tells your printer exactly where and how to place each ink droplet. Most printers come with a basic RIP that allows you to immediately begin outputting files. But there are also more robust RIPs that can provide you with more control over output by offering features such as: advanced color-man”?agement features, print-and-cut capabilities, variable-data options, and more.
The list that follows includes 30 companies whose offerings span the gamut of RIP complexity. Note that we”?ve only included producers of third-party RIPs here”?companies that produce RIPs designed for either a range of output devices or, in some cases, a very targeted slice of output devices (by type or by specific printer niche). Although we have not included printer OEMs in this list, keep in mind that many printer manufacturers also offer various RIP solutions for their specific machines; we urge you to check their websites for a RIP solution.
Amica Software offers two RIP products for large-format print”?ers”?ColorPrint PS 2.0 and ColorPrint Server 2.0. Both allow for direct printing from PC or Mac applications; unlimited queue set”?ups for each printer; ink-density curve controls; and an optional integrated color-profiling wizard for ICC creation. Other features include color separation, click-and-drag job print ordering, and advanced error diffusion halftone for smooth skin-tone images. ColorPrint Server offers automatic job nesting for saving print media and supports DCS 2.0 files.
Applied Image Technology
Applied Image Technology (AIT) offers the Shiraz RIP, now in itera”?tion 6.3, in three different versions targeted to different audi”?ences. Shiraz Lite is targeted at photographers and small sign shops running a single printer and that have low-volume produc”?tion. Shiraz Server is designed for medium-size sign and copy shops that require more robust RIP features such as batching and nesting to optimize media usage and allow them to run their system unattended. Shiraz Server Plus is designed for print-for-pay service bureaus and big sign shops that have very demand”?ing production requirements and are running multiple printers. This version enables multiple operators to send jobs to the server and allows more advanced users to create their own color profile tables and spot colors.
All three versions are available with drivers for solvent, UV-curable, and dye-based large-format printers from a variety of manufacturers, including the new HP Designjet 9000 and Mimaki JV5.
Part of Aurelon”?s Signalize! Graphic Software designed for large-format printing and signmaking, the Signalize Production RIP allows users to process a job while another is printing, using the company”?s nColor Engine, user-defined screening methods, and ColorSync ICC profiles to ensure matching color reproduction. The RIP can be used as a standalone application or in combination with Aurelon”?s Signalize Editor or any other application. Compat”?ible with PCs and Macs.
PhotoScript Digital Factory, from CADLink, is a RIP that addresses three separate production areas: file management, color management, and production efficiency. It features: the ability to import and export more than 65 file formats; a Layout Manager that allows for cropping, scaling, color changing, and more; advanced cutting tools; a Color Calibration Wizard for profil”?ing new media; factory-produced ICC profiles for a wide variety of ink/media combinations, as well as a built-in ICC generator for custom profiles; the ability to RIP to three devices simultane”?ously; and automated print-and-cut support.
In addition, users can add specialty production modules to the core product to provide new output options. These modules include: Color-Matching, Thermal Spot Color, Screen Printing, Ink”?jet Spot Color, and the Contour Cut Pro module.
The company also offers SignLab, now at version 7.1, which offers screening separations, built-in printing effects such as soft shadows and bevels, and white-ink printing support”?including a “See Through Sign Wizard,”? that helps users create graphics printed on white vinyl.
Designed for production shops that handle very large output, GrandRip+ features spot-color support as well as tools for multi-printing such as step-and-repeat, Nest-O-Matik, and a multi”?printer spooler. The product also features a tiling module as well as SignMark, which gives users the ability to place marks on the tiles to add grommets, stitch, fold, or margin marks.
Caldera also offers VisualRIP, which features several thou”?sand ICC profiles for color management. Its “Visual Range”? allows users to set their own workflows and use the included tools such as step and repeat, Nest-O-Matik, and spooler. A “memory-man”?agement system”? enables the manipulation of very large files without any loss of performance. Other features include spot-color support and hot folders for task automation.
VisualRIP+ adds to VisualRIP with an Automatic Lay-out feature that allows users to create variable data in a predefined template as well as a Tiling feature that enables users to create bigger prints and place grommets on the media.
CiberPrint 5, from CiberCat, features: automatic creation of multiple copies of the same design; control of spacing between designs for the possibility of adding cut marks; automatic pagination; design cropping; special color assignments”?you can assign a color from the working design to a cartridge containing a special color or assign the color to a cartridge combination; automatic distribution; advanced paneling; ICC compliance; a palette generator; proofing; contour cutting; and a queue manager.
ColorBurst”?s ColorBurst RIP is available in four different versions: ColorBurst X-Photo is designed for fine-art and photography printing; ColorBurst ProLab for output to RGB photo printers; ColorBurst PrePress for digital proofing and prepress; and ColorBurst Pro for large-format printing.
Pro is a PostScript 3-level-compatible RIP that produces a CMYK composite for printing to large-format inkjet printers. It allows users to nest files in a layout preview; zoom, crop, scale, and tile; and features AutoSpot built-in optimization for Pantone colors.
PrePress has all the features of ColorBurst Pro as well as sup”?port for preseparated files and showing trap and overprint for CMYK or black text only.
ProLab produces an RGB color composite for printing to large-format printers and has all the features of Pro and PrePress.
X-Photo features hot-folder capability as well as controls for ink limit, ink curves, and Bezier curves; it also features Spec”?tralVision Pro ICC-profile creation software.
ColorByte”?s ImagePrint RIP is engineered for the photographic-imaging market. It does not use a PostScript interpreter”?instead it uses what it calls PTAPP, which stands for Print Through Application. This option allows the user to print directly from any application to the ImagePrint RIP. All text, line art, and graphics are rasterized in high resolution and color managed.
Other features include: layout and nesting of images; color correction, sizing, crop marks, step and repeat, and rotate and alignment; automatic contact sheet and photo size generation; a spooling system that logs and saves a history of print jobs; and profiles for top media in five color temperatures and black and white. Operates on any Windows, Mac, or mixed network environment and is ICC-compliant.
PhotoGate4 features high-end photo and fine-art production capabilities; optimized grayscale printouts; a package printing container; a simulation container; positioning and arranging; a modular expandable product line; compatibility with popular file formats; and optional proofing modules.
It”?s available in two versions: PhotoGate4 Raster, an entry-level solution; and PhotoGate4 Pro, which allows for implementation of popular file formats from prepress (such as PostScript 3, PDF 1.4, etc.) to bitmap data file formats. It also integrates enhanced functions such as the processing of multipage PDF and Post”?Script documents, multipage containers, multiple hot folders, and the compensation of ambient light.
The ColorExpress RIP, from Compose System, is based on the company”?s Express RIP and is designed for printing color proofs or wide-format prints. It offers job-management tools such as step-and-repeat and tiling, and Compose”?s Pack&Print option that provides tools for ganging jobs on a defined print area. It supports PostScript 3 and deviceN and can produce separate or composite color output. ColorExpress features 2-bit screening as well as the Harlequin ICC Profile Processor, and includes profiles for selected printers plus tools that allow profile creation.
Express RIP, now on v. 7, features support for PDF/X-1a:2003 and PDF/X-3:2003 revisions; is compliant with Adobe PostScript 3; has in-RIP font emulation and composite font support; offers a choice of raster and vector in-RIP trapping options as well as an enhanced color-management system; and offers multiple screening options and JDF 1.2 compliance. Express RIP is avail”?able in a Full version as well as a Low-Resolution version that caters to low-res devices limited to 1500 dpi.
The Evolution Graphics RIP v. 3.2, from DigiFab Systems, is a textile and graphics RIP capable of driving large-format as well as desktop printers. It features variable dot control, 8-channel ink manipulation, and individual ink-saturation controls, allowing users to customize printing or choose built-in color profiles. Addi”?tional features include hot folders and remote printing.
Advanced color management includes RGB, CMYK, Lab, HSV, HSL, Hexachrome, and octachrome color modes, and it supports ICC 4.0 color profiles. An advanced interactive layout module supports crop, resize, rotate, flip, position, and preview options to minimize ink and media waste. It accepts files created in major software packages as well as commercial design software such as Illustrator, Photoshop, and Corel.
The Cheetah 2000 RIP/Server is a PostScript 3 language inter”?preter and central network server producing high-resolution RGB and CMYK images from PostScript Level 3 files. It is designed for use with any output device requiring: TIFF 4.0, 6.0, or LZW; Sci”?tex CT; PPM; or screened TIFF formats for use with grand-format printers, including the Durst Lambda, Theta, and Epsilon, as well as other wide-format electrostatic and inkjet devices.
EFI”?s Fiery XF RIP, designed for high-speed processing and increased productivity, enables the addition of mul”?tiple proofing devices to the production equipment, and also allows for integration with EFI”?s Print Management Information Systems and Web2Print products. Fiery XF provides drag-and-drop hot-folder functionalities, wizards, and a preview feature to simplify work. Other features include lineariza”?tion (the software works with spectrophotometers from Gretag”?Macbeth or X-Rite), nesting, step-and-repeat, and tiling.
The Colorproof XF RIP v. 3.0 features a new Production Option for wide-format production environments and a Fiery Option, which integrates Fiery-driven devices into the Colorproof XF workflow. The Production Option features advanced step-and-repeat, allowing wide-format printers to not only print multiple copies of images, but to define whether images are repeated hor”?izontally, vertically, or in mirror fashion. All of the Colorproof XF packages now incorporate 3-D Optimizer, a tool designed to opti”?mize printer output to a specific reference. Optimizer supports the GretagMacbeth Eye-One iO automated measurement device, providing accurate readings of test charts in addition to supporting the linearization tool of the basic Colorproof XF package.
PosterJet 7.5 (v. 8 is on its way to market) features include: a color curve editor with real-time and color-managed image previews; an ICC-profile viewer for output and input profiles; multiple viewing angles; an animated 3-D view; direct application of job templates to single or multiple files in the main or nest queue; the option to overwrite PDF/X3 workflow settings within a PDF file; a “fit-in-format”? and “fit image to page size”? functionality; and a Professional Import functionality that supports input from digital cameras, flatbed scanners, and large-format scanners.
PosterJet also includes new plug-ins for the HP Designjet 70 and 90; the Canon ImageProGraf W6400 and W8400, dye and pigment versions; and for the X-Rite DTP 20, DTP 70, DTP 41/45, and Spectrolino.
ErgoSoft”?s StudioPrint v. 12 is aimed at the photography and fine-art markets. It features black-and-white print capabilities with up to seven shades of black, as well as enhanced color control with its ColorGPS integrated ICC profiler that has a UCR/GCR feature for black generation. Version 12 also features spot-color control and background image processing, along with digital-garment printing and white-ink support.
PosterPrint, also in v. 12, supports X-Rite”?s Pulse and GretagMacbeth”?s Eye-One color tools as well as featuring VariFly”?PosterPrint”?s own variable-data feature. In addition, its JobCom”?poser and JobQueue Viewer and RIPQueue features help users manage jobs more efficiently.
ErgoSoft”?s TexPrint RIP is designed specifically for digital color textile production. Using its integrated PostScript interpreter, it can print vector formats of any size. TexPrint”?s Color Layers option provides users the possibility to color the separations from tradi”?tional textile printing, simulating the classic procedure used. In addition, it features step-and-repeat and spot color support.
The company has also partnered with InteliCoat to bring the Magicl??e RIP to market. Derived from ErgoSoft”?s StudioPrint tech”?nology, the RIP is preconfigured with ICC profiles for all InteliCoat Magicl??e media”?including the Verona papers, Torina canvas, Siena photo papers, and Firenze photorealistic matte papers”?on a number of printers, including Epson, Mimaki, and Roland. As with StudioPrint, the Magicl??e RIP provides features such as nesting, scaling, color tuning, tiling, and more. Because the RIP features an open architecture, it will allow users to expand and add support for any ink or media, without lamination.
FlexRIP is a multipurpose RIP that offers a variety of output for”?mats and drives a wide range of output devices including proof”?ers, digital presses and printers, filmsetters, and platesetters. Workflow- and device-independent, FlexRIP 5.2 is JDF-enabled and features a database-driven color-management system for repeatability and predictability of colors, including Pantone. Other features include: smart color setups that mirror the actual colors on the digital press; remote printing without prepress; reduced make-ready time because of the eliminated need to tune the press for every job; and the facility to profile multicolor sets.
Based on Global Graphics”? Harlequin RIP, the Fusion RIP is a modular PostScript 3-compatible product with a line-up of plug-ins designed to enhance system performance. Version 7.1 offers PDF 1.5 and 1.6, PDF/x-1a:2003, and PDF/X-3:2003 support; native support for Mac OS X Tiger; support for 4-page imposition schemes; Print Production Manager support; and font emulation. Other features include: in-RIP imposition; improved color render”?ing in overprinting regions and blending; and JDF 1.2 support.
Part of Ilford”?s Studio System, the Studio Software RIP is designed for the professional photographer and to work with the company”?s Galerie media and specific Epson printers and inks. It features screen and media profiles designed specially for photo”?graphic output; screen profiles are developed for each media and ensure a screen-to-print match. Other features include nesting and batch printing.
Microspot X-RIP is a professional Mac OS X printer driver that provides output on a wide range of large-format printers. It supports printing via USB as well as over a network (TCP/IP). Features include Microspot”?s new Pixel Expansion technology that increases speed and lowers the RAM requirement as well as custom paper sizes that can be set up and saved to use when”?ever needed. It uses a UNIX file-handling system and does not use PostScript. The company”?s X-RIP 100 product is specifically designed for the HP Designjet 100 series.
Onyx”?s Color Production Work”?flow Software, now in version 7.0, includes Onyx Produc”?tionHouse, PosterShop, and RIPCenter software.
ProductionHouse is the company”?s production-oriented RIP. It features Onyx Profile Generator, a variable-data tool for batch print jobs with variable text, the ability to drive multiple printers from various manufacturers, and the ability to make color cor”?rections from Preflight. It works across multiple platforms and features Pantone color matching.
With PosterShop, users can print directly from both Mac and PC-based creative applications, and get free, auto-updated software and driver updates with Onyx AutoUpdate. Other fea”?tures: scaling, cropping, and rotating of images; custom tiling for oversized prints; RIP”?ing of tiles individually; and Pantone color matching.
RIPCenter allows users to print directly to the queue from creative applications as they would to any desktop printer. Other features include: previewing of files to avoid costly reprinting; automatic scaling and tiling of images; RIP”?ing and simultaneous printing of bitmapped files for faster throughput; and a MediaSave nesting preview to reduce ink consumption and spoilage.
All three RIPs now feature an ink-tracking feature that allows users to track ink usage and get cost estimates before printing.
The Rasterize-It 7.1 RIP from Polkadots Software, is based on Harlequin RIP technology and features: font emulation; in-RIP imposition; JDF 1.2 support; PDF 1.4, PDF/x-1a:2003, and PDF/x-3:2003 support; and TrapPro for speeding up trapping process”?ing times.
ProofMaster Grande, from PerfectProof, is designed for profes”?sional poster-making as well as 8-page proofing. It can drive two printers simultaneously from a Mac or PC platform. Specific features include: workflow automation via multiple input and output folders; standard and customized ICC profiles; easy set-up of an unlimited number of proofing or photo-printing queues and hot folders; simultaneous rendering and printing; basic substrate texture simulation; support for spectrophotometers from X-Rite and GretagMacbeth; and Fotoba cutting marks.
RIPit”?s OpenRIP Symphony core product is an Adobe PostScript 3 RIP that comes with these standard fea”?tures: 36 PostScript 3 Stan”?dard Fonts; direct PostScript, EPS, and PDF printing; Agfa balanced screening and Adobe Accurate Screen; PDF 1.5 Sup”?port and PDF Preview; custom job queuing with drag and drop; RasterView full output resolution preview; CIP3 support; monitor preview support for monochrome, process, and spot-color files; and the ability to reduce ink on all colors.
Optional features include: in-RIP trapping; KoolKolor ICC-pro”?file Inkjet Proofing System; KoolToning Inkjet Halftone Simulator; and PerfectBlend Hybrid Screening Technology that combines AM and FM screening.
PhotoPrint 5, from SAi, is available in five options: SE, a RIP solution for a single workstation; DX, a layout and design package that can RIP and print to two printers at once; Server, for large networked production environments; Server-Pro a client-server package; and Server-Ultra, a client-server solution with additional pro”?filing capabilities.
Version 5 features the following enhancements: white-ink support; a “Rotate Image to Fit Media”? feature to save media and avoid tiling; support for new color-measurement devices such as GretagMacbeth”?s iCColor and X-Rite”?s Pulse and DTP34; printer simulation with only an output profile; presets that can include cut settings to be added into Default Job Properties; the ability to view an image”?s color info by moving the cursor over the image preview; support for borderless printing devices; a Pantone Library; and Global Color Mapping for the Mac version.
Designed specifically for large-format printing, SCP”?s Daylight RIP features: color adjustment and calibration, including 3-D closed-loop calibration with standard scanners and spec”?trophotometers; image enhancement such as sharpening, scaling, rotating, mirroring, and paneling; unattended batch printing; automatic nesting; and more.
The Serendipity Megarip, from Australia-based Serendip”?ity Software, is ICC-compliant and offers a ROOM (RIP Once Output Many) workflow. Its Soft Proof tool allows on-screen viewing at output resolution while its nesting feature allows users to save media. Other features include: the ability to RIP and print simultaneously; preconfigured setups; a screen-printing feature; and effects such as mirroring, rotation, cut marks, and borders. Comes in three versions: Desktop (print size is limited to 13 x 19 in.), Full (unlimited print size), and Screen Print (does not offer ICC color profiling).
3M Commercial Graphics
Version 6 of 3M”?s Graphic Maker Software RIP is being offered by the company as a standalone product. Aimed at increasing productivity in the large-format environment, it includes more than 30 new features and improvements such as: Max Ink clip points, which allow users to modify maximum ink lay”?down and limit ink saturation; rosette screening; enhanced ICC support; precision scaling to two decimal points; an auto-layout preview; enhanced PDF support; custom tile editing and paneling; PostScript file handling; and more. The software supports most manufacturers”? 4-, 6-, and 8-color large-format printers and accepts TIFF, EPS, JPEG, PostScript, and single- or multipage PDF files. Graphic Maker runs on Windows XP and Windows 2000 Professional or the Solaris operating system
The Topaz RIP, from Valloy, features a drag-and-drop GUI interface as well as Topaz Nesting with resizing, rotating, and overlaying without a lag in printing. Other features include: quick cropping with mouse drag; soft proofing; Topaz Profiler ICC-profile creation; photo interpolation; file archiving; color separation; full-screen preview; online calibration and profil”?ing; direct connection to color tools; and multipage PDF and PS support. Distributed in the US by Agency Systems Group (www.agencysys.com).
Wasatch Computer Technology
Wasatch SoftRIP, now in version 6.0, is available in a Large Format, Small For”?mat, Separations Printing Edition, and Textile Edition, with options for variable-data printing and contour cutting. The SoftRIP features job-cen”?tered and direct-to-layout workflow options; digital tool kit for file preparation functions like sizing, tiling, and managing color gamut; PSS high quality sto”?chastic halftoning; and nesting tools to combine new images with RIP”?d images with rotation capabilities.
The Navigator RIP is powered by the latest Harlequin Post”?Script 3 interpreter and supports PostScript, PDF, TIFF, EPS, and PDF/X files. It offers in-RIP trapping, CIP3 generation, and simple imposition.
Navigator GPS is a solution for small and mid-sized print”?ers and is compatible with more than 150 output devices. It includes the Navigator RIP as well as the company”?s RIP Manager. Featured functions include: PDF creation, preflighting, on-screen proofing, color management, scaling, and in-RIP imposition.
Xenith Extreme is a PostScript RIP with JDF workflow sup”?port that has built-in preflight using Enfocus”? PitStop tools, and offers soft proofing and support for more than 150 devices. It also offers automated archiving and an optional scalable system.
Xitron”?s new Xenith Aero RIP is based on Adobe core tech”?nology and will be offered to the marketplace in two versions based on size of output: Aero 4 supports output up to 32.67 x 26.6 in. while Aero 8 supports up to 45.6 x 37 in. For even larger output, a VLF option is available. For those who pur”?chase Aero 4 but then upgrade to larger output, they will be able to purchase an upgrade to Aero 8.
Standard features of all versions include: Adobe job tickets, ink remapping, PDF creation and preflighting, norm proofing, automated in-RIP trapping, soft proofing, in-RIP imposition, and automated archiving.
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