Software PostScript RIP and hardware RIP servers can also transform color copiers.

Postscript RIP can do more than improve wide format ink jet prints. The new generation of color (laser) copiers from Xerox, Canon, Minolta, Konica, Ricoh, Oce, and others can be upgraded with an EFI Fiery RIP or Splash PostScript RIP solution. This turns an ordinary color copier into a veritable short-run printing presses. Gone are the days of streaky unusable photocopies that we all know so well.

In years gone by reproducing photographs on a copier was the best way to degrade your photos. Even repro shop copiers could not handle photographs, not even using diffusing screens. Traditional copiers were made to handle line art, and even there, if the black space was very large, it turned weak in the middle.

I attempted to reproduce some archaeology reports at the college repro shop. The results were awful. The photographs were totally ruined. The pictures were so bad it was an embarrassment. And this was an expensive copier in a large repro shop.

So I turned to Epson inkjet printers, figuring I would print my own in color. That was even a worse disaster. Another professor tried the same, he bought two Epsons to start printing class workbooks for his hundreds of students.

I gave up after trying just to print a few title pages and a few inside pages. It was too slow, the output was not as nice as it looked in the glossy ads. The ink was overpriced, and it required overpriced paper. The other professor returned his Epson printers and demanded his money back and he bought a Lexmark Optra 1275n.

With the Lexmark color laser he printed up to 20,000 pages a month (he writes, illustrates, and produces all the textbooks for all his courses). Everything was in full color and at only 12 cents a page (full coverage, large color photos, not "5% coverage."

So I bought a Lexmark color laser and was also able to produce color reports. But I needed 11x17 inch size to make folding brochures. So I went to trade shows in Orlando and California to see what was available. But it turned out that that time (1997-early 1998) no 11x17 sized color lasers existed. What I did learn, however, was that color copiers could handle 11x17. I went to a paper trade show in Orlando and saw the samples from Futura Laser (Consolidated Paper) printed on a Xerox DocuColor 40 (in letter size). The color was quite impressive (the nice surface finish of Futura Laser helped considerably).

I then went to additional trade shows. 11x17 inch color lasers began to appear and today you can get oversize tabloid from QMS, Tektronix, and Tally, among others. But color copiers still intrigued me, since I am interested in short-run capability for publishing reports in color (with tons of full page photographs).

I noticed that most of the color copiers were using RIP solutions from Splash. EFI has formed partnerships with copiers as well. An issue of MacUP (German Mac magazine for professional users, 07-99, p. 158ff) even had an article on upgrading color copiers with various PostScript RIP server solutions. They review hardware Postscript RIP servers from AHT (UFO Systems), Colorbus Cyclone, EFI Fiery RIP, Splash Technology, T/R Systems.

Ricoh offers a variety of heavy-duty color printers with an onboard EFI Fiery color print controller from Electronics for Imaging. Ricoh,

If you need color management with your laser printer then consider the BEST color management plus RIP for the Epson laser printer. That particular Epson laser printer may be available solely in Europe at the moment.

Thus when you need a color laser also consider a color copier. A color copier can be part of your network so you can send digital images directly from your computer. You can use the copier as a short-run printer. The RIP helps improve the speed and quality. Here is a whole new frontier especially of interest to the thousands of people who work with museums or in colleges or universities. They, as well as anyone in a business, already has a repro department. Now you can coordinate purchases, work out a deal with the repro shop manager, and get the next generation of equipment which will solve the copy shop needs as well as your own departmental requirements.


Most recently updated July 11, 2001.