Digital Printing - What is RIP? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

My brother, the artist, asked me, the electrical engineer, what RIP is. He was looking at large format printers on Epson's web site and said they recommend this thing, but no where on their web site do they define it. I took a look myself, and found references to it, but never a definition. It's apparently some item of software that runs as some sort of printer driver or server. Can somebody explain it to a simpleton such as me?

-- John H. Henderson (, November 26, 2001


Quick search on google yielded this:

Hope that helps.


-- Ken Miller (, November 26, 2001.

A RIP is a raster image processor... it turns the printer command language into a raster image at printer resolution. In a typical laser writer, the RIP function is built into the printer, converting HP PCL or Adobe PostScript into the raster pattern for the page. High end color printers also include a CPU to perform the RIP function in the printer. Most ink jet color printers rely on the computers CPU and software in the driver to do the RIP. This saves money, takes advantage of generally fast CPUs but often doesn't have the full funcitonality of high end RIP engines. There are high end software RIP engines available, some that RIP PostScript.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, November 26, 2001.

With the Epson RIP (about $100) you get Postscript printing. I found that I needed it when printing large text (400 point) on my Epson. You will also need it for printing EPS images from a page layout program. You do NOT need it to print photos from Photoshop. Its main use for the graphic designer is to make the local printer a true preview for going to press, as the imagesetters used for film for plate making are Postscript, the RIP gives you Postscript. If you print locally with anything else, you get differences, some not noticed, some major (gradients frequently different, character spacing different, etc.). It lets you print CMYK. It makes printing slower, as the file is first RIPed, then printed. It is software, built into a Postscript printer, or put on a seperate printer driver computer for high end printers, or put on your computer for the Epson.

-- James Galvin (, November 26, 2001.

Raster Image Processing is a fancy name for the conversion from ASCII code, bitmap data, or Postscript vector graphics coding, to the on/off rows of dots that a printer puts down on paper.
Older printers used to do ASCII conversion in hardware, but on some newer printers all the RIP is done by the host computer. The raster interpretation is all done in software by the computer for newer Epson inkjets, for example.
You can easily show that the RIP is done by the computer, by timing the same Epson inkjet attached to a slow computer, and then a faster one. The printout time is inversely proportional to the processor speed.
Why Epson should sell an expensive RIP engine as a separate package, when it's already part of the driver software of every cheapo printer, I don't know.

-- Pete Andrews (, November 27, 2001.

I'm using an Epson 9500 Large format printer with an Onyx Rip. It works pretty good and is much faster then the Epson driver. Plus you can force 1440 dpi bi directional printing on custom papers. I think you can find more information at


-- JS Dawson (, November 28, 2001.

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