What is a RIP and should you be printing with one?


What is a Raster Image Processor (RIP)

A computer and printer speak different languages. The computer language needs to be translated to the printer language so the final print matches what is on the computer screen. If you were to travel to China without knowing Chinese you would need a translator to communicate with the locals. If your artwork does not have a translator for its trip through the printer, the final result could be very unexpected and costly.

Technically speaking, a RIP is software used in a printing workflow. It produces a raster image also known as a bitmap from a page description language such as PostScript, Portable Document Format, XPS or another bitmap of higher or lower resolution than the output device. The bitmap is then sent to a printing device for output.

  • Quick Tip: What is the difference between raster and vector images?

    • Raster images are made of pixels and are a set resolution. Photographs and scans are raster images.
    • Vector images are made of points, lines, and mathematical formulas. Certain logos and illustrations are vector images.
    • Postscript is used by applications like InDesign, Quark and Illustrator to describe the
      page (art) that has been created. Art from these applications can contain both raster
      and vector images.

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