Textile printing in the digital industry is rapidly increasing, so now more and more RIP (Raster Image Processor) companies have produced their own textile RIP version of their software or updating previous existing versions.
Before entering the textile RIP world, it is important to define what a RIP is. In the simplest terms, RIP its a software that translates (rasterizes) computer files (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, PDF, JPG, etc.) or parts of the file (for example PostScript) into a language the printer can understand in order to print it.
What happens when a file is ripped? The RIP creates a raster (pattern of the image of the file) file with a pattern of ink dots similar to the pixels you see on the computer screen. With a RIP software you can handle many file types and file sizes
Most RIP software come with ICC color profilers and allow you to handle color management, they also allow you to do nesting, and send files to multiple printers, and can also be used to enlarge images for printing without loss of detail since they increase the file resolution.
Some of the characteristics a textile RIP has are:
• Ability to perform print layout functions such as: scaling, rotating, multi-image placement, spooling or batching, step and repeat, design coordinates and colorways, color chips, etc.
• Ability to manage ink sets that include extra colors beyond CMYK, such as red, orange, blue, green, violet, etc.
• Capability for using higher ink densities used to achieve color saturation in fabrics.
• Compatibility with Color catalogs, palettes, and/or Pantone Textile Color System.
• A screen-printing simulation element to compare digital output with screen samples.
The main brands and versions for textile RIP software that have a textile RIP version of their software with features specifically designed for this type of printing, or they have designed a specific textile RIP, are: Caldera Flagship, Caldera TextilePro, ColorGate Productionserver, DigiFab Evolution, Ergosoft TexPrint, inedit neoStampa, MainTop, ONYX Textile, Wasatch Softrip TX. Out of all these, DigiFab and inedit are the only companies, which solely have a dedicated textile RIP and no other versions of the software.
It is worth mentioning other companies, whose RIP you can use for printing onto textiles, but are not textile oriented, such as: efi, PosterJet, SAi, and Shiraz.
Just like with textile printers and printheads, some partnerships have emerged between textile RIP and printer manufacturers, for example Caldera and MS Printing (Caldera GrandRIP+), Roland and Ergosoft (Ergosoft Roland Edition), Roland and Caldera (Roland PrintStudio by Caldera) to name a few.