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Wide-format Printing: 10 considerations for RIP software

When a sign shop adds a new printer to its production department, it is important to check its RIP software compatibility.

4. How well will the RIP integrate into the business?
As mentioned, it is a good idea to look for RIP software that will support the majority of the equipment in the shop. It is common for signmakers to rely on more than one printer and perhaps a cutter, e.g. for high levels of banner production, and they may need software that can combine functions to drive all of these devices.

Compared to having little ‘islands’ of different software throughout the shop, choosing the right RIP will simplify operations, streamline workflow and help minimize the need for additional training.

5. What support is available and where?
For any busy large-format PSP or sign shop, software support is a crucial issue. It is extremely important for support teams to be able to fix unexpected problems quickly and well, but they should also provide expert knowledge in areas like software configuration and workflow efficiency, information about industry trends and advice for new applications.

To be successful, the software reseller should want to build an ongoing relationship, not just send some instructional CDs and move on to the next sale. Learning about the level of support offered should be high on the checklist before making an actual investment.

6. Does the RIP integrate well with CNC machining software?
With graphics customers continuing to demand new materials, colours and formats, requests for novel applications will only increase. There is pressure on production teams to differentiate their capabilities from those of their competition.

As a result, many shops that use large-format digital printers to produce graphic displays and signs are now also using computer numerical control (CNC) routing to finish them. Some RIP software packages have been developed with this trend in mind, e.g. to simplify file cleanup and toolpath preparation for three-dimensional (3-D) CNC output.

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7. How is the RIP priced?
The RIP purchase may represent a major investment. For some companies, the cost prevents them from upgrading to the package that is best for their business needs. So, it is worthwhile to look beyond major capital investments to other available purchase options, such as subscriptions.

An ongoing subscription can be a much more cost-effective option than a large capital investment, allowing smaller-revenue businesses to begin using RIP software earlier. Subscription periods of as little as one month offer both flexibility and value. Moreover, the subscription-based software model ensures users always have the latest and best features.

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