Chat with Matt: An Interview With Jonathan Rogers

Matt Dixon is the editor of Sign & Digital Graphics.

Jonathan Rogers is the International Marketing Manager for Onyx Graphics.


What path brought you to your current position with Onyx?

Graphic arts and technology have always been a fascination of mine. Coming to Onyx Graphics was a natural fit to combine these two passions into one. 


How far has RIP software come in the last few years in terms of technical advancements?

RIP software capabilities have grown tremendously in recent years for digital inkjet large-format printing. A trend we have seen in terms of technological advancements is the development of tools for automation and color management. With the increasingly diverse print applications for this market, the types of technical developments in both these areas are equally diverse. As a software provider, in our experience, vendors are seeking ways to provide new and innovative tools for print service providers to improve automation and achieve high-quality consistent color output within their print shop. The type and scale of automation or color management needs that a print shop has will differ based on business size, location and service offerings but in our experience, overall, we’ve seen the concept and practice of print production automation and the need for color management tools gain rapid traction and acceptance over the past several years; and we expect to see more in the future.


How often do you find that shops regret not putting more thought into their RIP software before they purchase a new printer?

Choosing the right solution can be a daunting task for any print service provider. Ensuring the production needs of the business are understood prior to printer purchase is likely integral to truncating the amount of time needed to be print ready. In our case, ONYX supports the largest number of devices to help make a printer purchase decision easy. We also provide a fully functional trial for print service providers wanting to try to get familiar with ONYX prior to making a purchase decision. We also provide additional on-demand web training, videos, how-to guides, a knowledge base and more to help make it easy for print service providers to be up and running.



How versatile are today’s RIP programs for shops that want to branch out into printing on substrates other than vinyl and film?

Each material interacts with ink differently, so a challenge for software vendors is to ensure high quality and consistent output across different media types. As new print applications and materials become available, RIP vendors are challenged with ensuring the tools and controls available in their RIP solution can calculate accurately the recipe needed for the best possible output. Onyx Graphics is fortunate to own and develop all its own software, as well as a world-wide customer base with a very active beta test forum. As a result, ONYX software is designed specifically for the daily needs of print shops such as branching into new substrate printing to meet the evolving needs of their print buyer customers. One example of a tool built for printing on different substrates is ColorCheck, which is exclusive to ONYX software. One of our customers shared an experience that shows the power of this tool for color management needs across different media. In their case, they had a national customer needing prints and to meet their deadline, rush ordered new media to finish the job. ColorCheck caught the difference in white-point for the seemingly similar media types that saved our customer thousands of dollars in wasted ink and media for reprints.



In terms of applications, what high-growth area of printing has your software had to make the most adjustments for over the last couple years?

An area we’ve seen grow and develop is the availability of new and diverse media types and substrates to meet the new array of print applications being afforded to print service providers. As these new print applications and materials become available, RIP vendors are challenged with ensuring the development and provision of tools and controls in their RIP solution to calculate accurately the recipe needed for the best possible output. To achieve this, color management for color accuracy, color consistency and matching standards are necessary tools for today’s print shops and industry standards. Vendors who provide fully integrated color engines and color tools as part of their RIP and print workflow solution are well-positioned to meet these needs.

Speaking only about ONYX software, ONYX is known for color and color management. In our latest version, ONYX 19, users enjoy a specific-for-wide-format color engine as well as several innovative color management tools to match and reproduce color across different print applications and substrates. These include: Swatch Books, to easily match spot colors including specialty inks; ICC profiling with integrated G7 verification; AccuBoost, for fine tuning color output as part of the ICC profile build; PosterColor 2.0, a smart rendering intent for added vibrancy of solid colors; ColorCheck, a process control tool set to prove color output accuracy to customers before printing, with in-product indicators to maintain printers before experiencing color issues such as drift and tools to match standards such as G7 and FOGRA. ONYX 19 also brings DeviceLink+, a new way to simulate output across devices to achieve consistent site-wide color as well as controls to automate color management such as applying ink savings across all output profiles without the need to re-read in swatches or use a color measurement device. Combined, ONYX provides industry leading color output that can literally be proven to print buyers.


What features of Onyx software do you feel are the most under-utilized?

Print service providers are constantly under pressure to remain competitive in an already competitive market. They face daily challenges to meet customer needs on output accuracy, turnaround times, production deadlines, production efficiency, and address areas of waste. While the size and scope of these challenges differ based on business size, services offered or geography, the overall need for solutions that are fast and reliable with the tools needed to produce outstanding prints that are accurate and consistently produced over time remains the same.

With that in mind, highlighting features that help Print Service Providers further automate and stream line their print workflows might be more applicable.

Speaking just about ONYX software, a few specific tools to help any size print shop automate their workflows include:

  • JDF automation to streamline workflows with ONYX Connect.
  • Job Editor for quick changes to any file including scale and rotation, bleed, mirroring, tiles and finishing marks such as grommets.
  • Quick Sets to automate complete end to end workflows, reducing manual touch points from design file to finished print product.
  • ColorCheck to ensure customer brand color needs are met.


In terms of trouble shooting, what are some common user errors that can be avoided?

In our experience, Print Service Providers are challenged regularly with the task of ICC profiling. In terms of error it is the perception that ICC Profiling is too hard. It simply doesn’t need to have errors, be difficult or complicated. Speaking solely about ONYX software, we provide a simple ‘Print > Read > Next’ workflow that takes the sting out of profiling in order to reach superior output quality. Combined with hands-on ONYX certification workshops that take in-class learning to our experience center for real world application, Print Service Providers can avoid common errors maximize their investment.


What is the lifespan of typical RIP software package, and what are some signs that it’s time for an upgrade?

Technology is increasing at a phenomenal rate and with it, print buyer standards on output quality and turnaround time. As a result, the life of RIP software is dependent upon on print service providers meeting the needs of their customers. In this sense, there is not just one tool that could signal time for an upgrade, but industry and print buyer demand. Software vendors, then, must be continually investing in R&D to provide best-in-class solutions that meet the speed, productivity, efficiency, reliability and automation needs of print service provides as they in turn meet the needs of their print buyer customers. Giving an example from Onyx Graphics, our company has released 4 major versions in just 5 years.