Six RIP companies address trends in workflow, scalability, the Cloud, integration with other tools, and much more.
Xitron: We just touched on it – workflow integration. The productivity enhancements are important for all the obvious reasons. However, you don’t want to overlook core RIP stability when evaluating the total package. RIP developers are constantly looking to improve the accuracy of interpretation as authoring applications like Adobe InDesign add functionality.
Caldera: The main trends in RIPs today are around automation, interoperability, consistency, and mobility.
Q: How has the Cloud and/or online allowed RIPs/workflow to expand? And how is this making life and business easier/better for print providers?
GMG: A lot of this depends upon how you define the “Cloud.” Does this mean operating an application that is resident in the Cloud, or does that mean working remotely? Sending a 10-GB data stream from a cloud-based RIP to a print device is not really an option at this moment, but people can certainly access job databases from remote locations (we consider this to be on-line based). The Cloud also allows people to keep ahead of production while not in the office. They can monitor job status, get feedback, and submit jobs remotely – although nobody is likely to submit a print job from an iPad. The other challenge of a Cloud system is that it has to be very well protected. Brand owners might not like that their next campaign’s files and photos are in the print provider’s Cloud software, out of their control.
Onyx: Cloud technology is an exciting innovation for wide-format printing. At its core, the Cloud is about connecting people and machines together – it’s allowing print shops to manage production and their business in different ways.
Xitron: If we’re talking about Cloud-based RIPs, this would be represented by a very small percentage of the production base that’s currently in use. However, if we’re talking about online job submission with integration into a workflow, that’s a different story. Properly designed and configured, an online job-submission/proofing application is a natural extension of a prepress workflow. It can certainly make it easier to do business with a particular print provider. The real question is: Can the provider justify the cost of implementation?
Q: Print shops are looking for reliability/predictability, speed, and profitability. How are today’s RIPs and workflow solutions helping shops to achieve these goals?