RIPs--Directing the Imagesetter
What does this mean for today's imagesetter—whether the imagesetter of choice is the latest, greatest output model or an old faithful?
Robert Cook, product manager at IPTech, offers a perspective. "We see three key areas of interest that are providing momentum for future RIP development and sophistication: legacy upgrades, direct-to-plate and workflow integration.
"Many shops have big investments in older imagesetters and RIPs," Cook continues. "While these legacy imagesetters are still capable of producing excellent output, their legacy RIPs cannot handle the forever-expanding list of demands and expectations of today's production environment.
"We see the owners of these older imagesetters doing the math and realizing that they can upgrade to new RIPs—gaining all the advantages of PostScript 3, PDF RIPing, in-RIP trapping, greater reliability and vastly improved performance— and get all of this for a fraction of what the old RIPs cost in their heyday," Cook states.
During the past several years, RIPs have evolved from single-mode software interpreters able to take in just PostScript to highly sophisticated workflow automation tools that can interpret multiple file formats (PS, EPS, TIFF, TIFF/IT-P1, PDF, DCS32), apply multiple in-RIP operations—chiefly screening, color management, display list editing, trapping—and render output as different file formats to different output devices, or to disk storage for output at a later time.
An Age of ScriptWorks
With the release of ScriptWorks 4.0 in early 1996, Harlequin introduced the concept of the RIP Management System with the ability to control complex processes beyond just interpretation and rasterizing. ScriptWorks 4.0 (and subsequent releases) reinforced Harlequin's position as a leading RIP provider for the imagesetter market.
The latest version of Harlequin's flagship ScriptWorks product marks an equally significant milestone in Harlequin RIP evolution by redefining the concept of the RIP as a Reconfigurable Image Processor—a new name for an aging acronym. Harlequin reports this redefined concept of the RIP will enable the introduction of even higher performance RIP configurations for the latest generation of high-speed imagesetters.