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RIP/Controller

The RIP (Raster Image Processor) and/or Controller feeds raster image data to the print engine. The RIP/Controller may be located within the printer and/or in the software driver. The RIP/Controller also performs all algorithmic quality enhancements. Print Quality may be as much a function of the RIP/Controller as of the print engine.

  • Resolution & Color Depth

    A hallmark of Print Quality, resolution is the combined result of several factors including addressability, usually expressed as dots per inch or dpi, and spot size, the smallest imaging element that a print engine can record. Color depth, the number of gradations of color that can be imaged within the smallest imaging element of the printing system, may impose limits on Print Quality. Resolution & Color Depth are impacted by both the RIP/Controller and the print engine.

    Halftoning/Screening

    When more color depth than the printing system inherently produces is needed, groups of the smallest imaging element are combined to give the appearance of increased color depth—but at the potential expense of reduced resolution.

    Gamma Compensation & Gamut Mapping

    Gamma Compensation is a technique for improving the linearity of a gradations of color, wherein the color depth data is modified to pre-compensate for the distortions of screening and print engine deficiencies. Gamut Mapping goes a significant step further, by employing Rendering Intents and other color management policies to provide more saturated computer graphics and more lifelike photographic images alongside linear blends.

    Image Enhancement

    Extending beyond the raw performance of the print engine’s technology, several techniques have been developed to improve perceived image quality. They include: Unsharp Masking to increase perceived image edge sharpness; Anti-Aliasing to smooth image roughness by adding intermediate color depth pixels; Gray Component Replacement (GCR) and Under Color Removal (UCR), replacement of CMY combinations with K to improve gray neutrality or to reduce ink buildup; Trapping, methods that minimize annoying visual effects of misregistration; etc.

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