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What is a RIP

The RIP (raster image processor) is the brains behind any wide format printer system ensuring that (in basic terms) the printer places each droplet of ink in the correct position on the paper to give a perfect digital image.

The RIP coverts a vector graphics image in to a bit-mapped image which the printer can print. A RIP is often described as a Postscript Level 2 interpreter. (Adobe) Postscript is software within the RIP that keeps the fonts attractively rendered without looking jagged.

RIPs are also used to enlarge images for printing – they use special algorithms (such as error diffusion and stochastic) to provide enlargements without loss of clarity. RIP functions include:

  • Reading and interpreting instructions from a Postscript file which originates from desktop application software.
  • Converting this data into ‘rasterised’ or bitmap data.
  • Creating an optimal screening pattern compatible with the CMYK capabilities of a specific digital printer.
  • Allows the printer to print at optimal speed.

A RIP is usually composed of three or four components as shown in the diagram below:

what is a rip diagram

Schematic of a PostScript RIP

Each RIP manufacturer will add a broad range of features and options to their Postscript interpreter. Such features can include:

  • Extended support for non-Postscript data, such as EPS, TIFF, JPEG, BMP etc
  • Handling both composite and colour-separated Postscript files
  • Advanced spooling software allowing automatic and manual control of print jobs
  • Image preview and page positioning tools
  • Manual or on-line spectrophotometer support
  • Support for simultaneous RIP and print
  • Remote spooler control

All of the above features and options make the choice for an ideal RIP quite difficult and mainly dependent on specific user requirements.



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