Most of us know that a desktop printer would not work if the correct printer driver is not installed in the computer to which the printer is connected. That is because the printer driver is the piece of software that acts as a translator between the computer and the printer. However, if the printer you are operating is a wide-format printer or a large-format printer, you can be sure that the printer driver will not be enough to get your job done. More than the correct driver, you would need a raster image processor or RIP.
What is a RIP? RIP is a special piece of software or hardware device that guides the way the printer renders text and images on the printing medium. Basically, what a RIP does is to tell the printer how to place each minute drop of ink on the printing medium and where to place it. As thus, a RIP ensures that the output of your printer is the way it should be.
The Importance of RIP
Why do operators of wide-format printers and large-format printers have to use RIPs? That is because the fundamental function of a RIP is to ensure the integrity of the printout, that the details are accurate and the overall image is crisp and sharp.
The problem with text and graphics is that they get blown up and blurred out whenever they are rendered on a large printing medium, such as a banner or a large roll of cloth, if the printer is not getting any help in translating the file to be printed into the actual printout. Printer drivers, after all, are not as accurate as RIPs.
Print service providers, art and design studios, advertising agencies, photography studios, engineering firms, architecture firms and other such organizations that use wide-format or large-format printers on a regular basis need to make use of RIPs. These companies are highly dependent on the business that accurate and high-quality printouts can generate for them. The printouts created by these special printers would be sharper and more accurate if RIPs are used.
How RIPs Work
As mentioned above, a RIP tells your printer how to place each drop of ink on the printing medium and exactly where to place it. How does a RIP work? First, the RIP processes the information on the file to be printed out and translates this information to a language that the printer can understand. The interpretation of the file is usually done serially, page by page.
After the RIP has interpreted the information it has gleaned from the file, it then converts this information into continuous tone bitmap and then into a halftone or a pattern of dots that the printer can read. The halftone is created with extremely precise mathematical algorithms to ensure the accuracy of the printout.
This is basically how the RIP works. Most RIPs are designed with other features that can affect how the software interprets the printout information. These features include color separation, trapping and halftone screening.
Companies that rely heavily on high printout quality and accuracy need to use RIPs when working with large-format printers or wide-format printers. RIPs will help them achieve the quality and accuracy they require.
This Article is written by John C Arkin.
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