What a modern RIP is capable of:
- color management
- color adjustments
- creating white, varnish and metallic channels
- processing of single pages and also multi-page documents
- rotating, mirroring, cropping, scaling pages
- manual nesting
- process transparencies
- process overprints
That's quite a lot. The question arises whether other software is necessary when all of the print-relevant file actions can be handled by the RIP. The bandwidth of the RIP functionality is enormous and grows from version to version. The speed of the RIP also increases.
However, in most print production workflows the RIP is the bottleneck so every possibility to increase the throughput of the RIP should be used. Furthermore, despite the impressive developments in RIP technology, there are many requirements for which a RIP is simply not designed or that can be accomplished much faster or better with other technology.
Most RIPs are based on the Adobe PDF Library. This contains many known weaknesses and inadequacies that can be counteracted with extra PDF software.
10 actions to be performed BEFORE the RIP
1. Resolve transparencies and overprint
The classic issue when flattening or processing transparencies can be one of the most time-consuming processing steps in the entire print production process, depending on its complexity. RIPs can now process both transparencies and overprints. The RIP is at the very end of the workflow, right before printing. Therefore, there must be no avoidable delays. If the file takes up to half an hour instead of the scheduled two minutes in the RIP due to complex transparencies then no information is sent to the machine during this time. The machine may produce blank pages.
2. Optimize files for highest RIP speed
To continue the previous point, all file properties that slow down the RIP should be optimized in advance. Among other things, this includes
- Flatten transparencies and overprints
- Downsample images to optimum print resolution
- Simplify complex pages (many vector elements, many images)
- Remove invisible/non-printing elements
This relieves the RIP of all non-RIP activities and more files can be processed per minute.
Several RIPs offer integrated Inksave. There are several reasons against ink saving in the RIP.
- Many RIPs are offered by companies that also sell ink.
- Color calculations require time that you do not have at this point in the workflow
- Most RIPs offer Inksave only via a device link profile. This is very static, different configurations per job are not possible.
- In most cases, you cannot define any exception colors in the RIP Inksave, for example to specifically exclude company logos from Inksave.
- Special software saves more color with higher quality
4. Color Management
Simple color conversions, such as from RGB to CMYK, can be done in the RIP, which just costs computing time. More complex color calculations are often not possible or result in incorrect colors. The scope is limited by the number of Device Link profiles.
5. Avoid to RIP multiple times
Maybe you have several RIPs. Depending on which machine you want to print on, a file will be processed on the RIP responsible for the machine. Then you have to prepare the file for exactly this RIP. If you need to print on another machine, you have to rip the file again, this time on the other RIP for the other machine. This not only occupies both RIPs unnecessarily, but also cost time that you don't have so late in the workflow.
Perhaps a file is also processed on several RIPs in parallel, because it is not yet clear on which machine it is to be printed. Not only will time be lost, but someone must also be familiar with the exact settings and their effects on both RIPs.
And we haven't even talked about your old RIP, the one for offset printing. You might use that now and then. Then it becomes completely confusing.
Therefore, files should always be optimized and normalized before the RIP, so that the choice of the RIP can no longer influence the print appearance.
6. Avoid manual interventions completely through comprehensive file optimization
This point is completely independent of the RIP used. The more manual interventions in files are necessary, the more unprofitable your workflow will be. Everything that you can automate in the workflow, should be automated. Manual work is slow, error-prone and puts you at a competitive disadvantage. No matter which RIP you use, it can't automate your workflow. Now you need additional software and this additional software should not only automate, but at the same time elevate the PDF quality to the best possible standard.
7. Imposition, nesting, collective forms
You don't want to produce individual files or pages, but - depending on what you produce - you want to ensure that substrate and material consumption are minimized fully automatically. This may require automatic imposition in book production, nesting or tiling/paneling in large-format printing, and the creation of collective forms in label printing.
8. Connection to any type of order system (MIS, webshop,...)
No matter how files are delivered - via e-mail, USB, webshop, MIS or other channels - they must be fully transferred automatically into the printing process. A RIP cannot do this, but workflow software is required.
9. Checking files against order information
All order-relevant information is available digitally. They are either entered by customers directly in the web shop or filed in the MIS. This data is available as order metadata, usually as an XML job ticket. Among other things, the page size, color information or print run for each order is known. It must be ensured by the workflow, BEFORE the RIP, that files correspond to your order data. A RIP cannot do that. This requires software that can compare XML information with PDF files.
10. Ensuring the minimum quality
Files that cannot be printed or cannot be printed correctly should not reach the RIP. Preflight solutions filter out files that do not meet the minimum production requirements. However, files that have been delivered incorrectly should not always be sorted out. Almost all errors can be corrected automatically by suitable software. Even if files are delivered incorrectly, they can still be printed correctly. But, of course, a RIP alone will not suffice.
Cooks should cook! Cooks can also take orders, serve, rinse or make tax returns. But it is better if cooks can concentrate on their core competence.
RIPs should RIP! They could also do color management, transparencies, Inksave, nesting and so on. But it is better if RIPs can concentrate on their core competence. This ensures maximum throughput.
The question is therefore whether you want to add many small isolated solutions to your RIP, or procure a suite that handles all of the above points for you automatically. OneVision Software offers the comprehensive solution for high automation. Tailored to your needs with special adaptations for book printing, commercial printing, large format printing, or label printing.