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Called back - backlit is washed out

Discussion in 'Digital Printing' started by aerial, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. aerial

    aerial QCB

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    We purchased a large backlit cabinet sign from a reputable wholesale printer. Cabinet construction was nice, but when the sign is lit, it looks washed out.
    I didn't like it when I picked it up, but agreed to give it a try. This was our first cabinet installation, and the printer is a long time commercial printer. I relied on their experience.

    My customer thought the sign was ok, so we let it go. Now after 6 months my customer is complaining that people think he is not open at night because the sign looks like it is not on. He would like us to do something about it. I called the printer and explained the situation, and they are not returning my calls.

    The face is 4 x 12, digitally printed, large red letters on a beige ground. It was not double struck.
    I did contact Avery and asked if I could apply cut vinyl lettering over top of the laminated print to juice up the red, and they thought it would be ok.

    Before I call the printer again I would be grateful for suggestions on how to fix this, hopefully without replacing the whole face.
     
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  2. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    In my opinion, if you sported a complaint immediately upfront with the vendor, it should've been addressed then, not 6 months later. However, since it was addressed, I would assume the vendor needs to step up and take responsibility..... but, they might ask you to chip in.

    You can only doube strike while the face is going through, you can't put it back in.

    Now, the tricky part is this..... is it a flatbed print directly onto the face or is it digitally printed translucent vinyl and mounted onto the face ??

    Also, no. You cannot put translucent vinyl over a digitally printed face in either capacity. The background will not be white and once the vinyl is on, it won't emit the proper colors any longer at night. It won't be opaque, but it will be far too dark.
     
  3. MikePro

    MikePro Major Contributor

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    washed-out or too dim?

    for the latter, washed-out prints are NOT ACCEPTABLE. any printer worth their salt should know what illumination does to their product... and that is why our standard is to double-layer our print, not just the ink. double-striking ink looks dark during the day, and just fine at night... but two layers of print, clearprint/lexan/whitetransprint or lexan/clearprint/whitetransprint or lexan/whitetransprint/whitetransprint is the way it should be. prints should look the same color, day/night.

    too dim, could be result from either too little illumination within the cabinet or they went cheap-o on you and printed on grey-backed material and is blocking most of the illumination.
     
  4. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

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    personally, it will be fine. its red. it will be red when lit up. the 'beige' will still look white at night, but the red will be red.

    IMO
     
  5. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

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    yeah these guys got a point. if the lighting is good, it wont look off (dull), it will look bright but hard to read the graphics (washed out)
     
  6. aerial

    aerial QCB

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    I expect to chip in...I should not have accepted the sign. I should have known this would come back and bite me. I just didn't know it would take so long.

    The print was laminated and applied to translucent lexan. I don't think the cabinet is underlit.
    The red print is large red block type, and I think it is just not enough ink.

    Would you ask for a reverse print to be mounted on the back side of the Lexan?
     
  7. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

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    best printed trans comes from trans print first surface, mirror print on clear second surface.

    if its just beige and red, it should have been cut vinyl to begin with. both are standard trans. colors.
     
  8. aerial

    aerial QCB

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    coulda woulda shoulda

    My choice would have been cut, but printers like to print because it's faster than installing cut.
    I let them decide how to build it, because that is what they do.
    I just called them again, and am waiting for a call back.

    I am curious as too how you guys would handle this.
    If it was a smaller sign, I would just redo it. But it is 4' x 12'. It looks like this...
     

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  9. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

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    still would like to see a pic at night lit up, but I would overlay red and be done
     
  10. Mosh

    Mosh Major Contributor

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    If it is printed on Trans vinyl can you remove the print from the lexan and apply cut trans vinyl...reverse cut the beige and the apply red over it...assuming it is white lexan...
     
  11. MikePro

    MikePro Major Contributor

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    aside from dual-layer printing, if I were to do cut vinyl then I would have used trans. red with a black outline and opaque beige.
     
  12. aerial

    aerial QCB

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    Thanks to all who responded. It will help my negotiations. I am inclined not to charge my customer for the redo, since I knew the sign wasn't right all along. He's a good customer.

    Just wondering, how much of a break do you think the printer should give me? It's tricky because so much time has elapsed.

    If I were the manufacturer, I would not have let the sign leave the shop, and I would eat the cost of making it right.
    As it is, we are going to eat all the transportation and install costs.
     
  13. Moze

    Moze Precision Sign Services

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    The customer absolutely should not be charged if you re-do this. You're the sign expert (at least in the eyes of your customer) and are responsible for providing a product that looks good, lights up nicely and that they're happy with. Why should they be charged anything? The customer did their part by paying for the sign. You can't charge them more because you didn't spec/receive a properly printed face.

    Was it a print shop or a sign shop that printed the faces? The face should have double-struck from the beginning. I'm curious why they didn't if they're the 'experts'. I would go in and have a face-to-face and find out why the face for an internally illuminated sign wasn't double-struck. That being said, getting them to split the cost on a new face six months after the fact is going to be an uphill battle.

    You said it was your first cabinet which means you have a learning curve ahead of you if you're going to do more down the road. Take it as a lesson learned, pull the face out, strip it, and apply cut vinyl. In the future, either spec double-striking or cut vinyl. Don't leave details like that up to someone else.
     
  14. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Yeah, this has nothing to do with the customer having to pay to fix your/your vendor's mistakes.


    My first thought would be to have them at least send you replacement vinyl prints and also pay you to go up, take the old face down, rip off the old vinyl. re-mount the new ones and re-install the face again.

    Had they done it right in the first place, you wouldn't have to do any of this and it wouldn't cost them any extra.

    Their mistake, they foot the entire bill.

    That's the good scenario. :rolleyes:

    The bad one is, they won't admit jack and you have to have new prints made out of pocket and you pay for the entire replacement portion.

    Happy customer and you learn an expensive lesson. :thumb:
     
  15. aerial

    aerial QCB

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    My sales rep brought up the subject of double striking. I told him to use their judgement, they being the "experts". It was his call.
    The graphics were so simple, I did not deem it necessary to drive 2 hours to look at a proof, so I told them to run it. I worked at another sign printer for years, and we seldom had customers come in to see a proof for signage.

    This company is a wholesale company that has been in business many years - not a fly by night company.
     
  16. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Most of the time, you shouldn't have to go see a physical proof, but as you mentioned, this was your first time EVER, doing something like this. Again, how were you to know they'd pull something like this ?? There's no way or reason, you should've been concerned for a business with this much experience and reputation should be questioned on a basic rule. Your rep, should've known to use a double pass/strike. Either his fault or whomever made the decision to do a single pass. If you signed off on single pass, they'll get out of it and then you just consider this an expensive lesson.

    Another question for you...... if this is your first time doing this, did you have another company do the installation or does your company have adequate equipment to install such a sign ?? Sometime, when applying for the permits, it can even be written in there about the specs of the sign and so forth. Not usually, but it can happen. Does your company have proper insurance to hang this sign ?? Do you have electricians on staff to do this or did you farm it out ??


    Anyway, the last part in red.......... regardless of how long a company has been in business or how big they are, does not equate to their standards. You can usually count on it for something, but it does not mean total satisfaction to the end user. Hence, your situation. Good luck. :thumb:
     
  17. aerial

    aerial QCB

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    Gino, some background...

    This was not my first rodeo. I worked for a commercial printer for 15 years, but I did not actually run the printer. Hence I was not aware of the technicalities of actually printing a backlit. My husband is an electrician and has two bucket trucks, and we are fully insured. We do neon repairs, and this particular customer wanted a new cabinet sign. My printer doesn't build cabinets, so I went with...should I name names? I am pretty annoyed that they are ducking my calls. I used to be on the other end of the phone when people had issues with our work, but I always responded.

    Any how, I really was just looking for ideas on how to fix this. Its a big sheet of lexan, and I know it would be a ***** to strip. I don't really want to spring for a new sheet. Would it be possible to have a mirror image printed and mounted to the backside? And would registration be an issue with large type?

    Many thanks to all.
     
  18. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Okay, so now we get the 'Rest of the Story' as Paul Harvey used to say.

    So, after 15 years of working in a print shop, I would think you would've known to do a double pass/strike. You must've heard this same scenario from 15 years experience. However, there are those people who do their job and don't look around. As for your husband having an electrical business, had you mentioned that up front, it would've sounded more like this kinda work is/was in your portfolio. You did mention the rep asking you if you wanted a double strike/pass. Just out of curiosity, it really doesn't cost a heck of a lot more to do, why wouldn't you ask him to explain the differences ?? If someone told me to take the least expensive way out, I would have to do a single pass, but against my better judgement, but I would've told the client what will happen. We go through this all the time and we always end up doing the better method. No one usually says do what you think, unless they say... can I get by with a single pass ??

    Anyway, it doesn't matter much how you run your business, but here it is 4 days later and now you are getting around to explaining to us some of the information that could've prevented earlier misunderstandings. So, while you've been doing all kinds of electrical sign repair and neon repair, you've never noticed any of these particulars ?? Again, I guess that could happen, but it seems odd.

    Now, in answering your question once again, I don't think your vendor will support you, since they probably did what they were instructed to do, unless they feel sorry for you. If you want to fix it right and do right by your client.... you can take one of two roads. Take it down, strip it, put on what is needed to do the job right and re-install it at no extra charge to your client......... or just patch it by going over it with vinyl and not having a good finished job. Remember, this is how reputations are created.
     
  19. Marlene

    Marlene Major Contributor

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    and then you call Avery...OMG, talk about going from bad to worse. why didn't you make this with vinyl in the first place? was it cheaper? also did this printer also make the cabinet? did you really sub it out without telling them just what you wanted? you know it should have been doubled yet didn't spec that out? it just amazing me. if that is one big "sticker" one that face, you could remove it or buy new material and make this right. use vinyl or invest in a real sign shop who can back spray it.
     
  20. threeputt

    threeputt Very Active Member

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    Seems to me another possibility is this scenario; The sign shop/print shop accepted the work. An in-house printer ran the print, but made a mistake. (didn't double-strike the print either through negligence or incompetence) The print got laminated and out the door it went. The administrators of that company may have had no idea until you called with your complaint. Finally, maybe the person who actually did the printing has left the company, so he/she can't be questioned. I would hate to see a company maligned if that was the case. But...they definetly should call back and at least start a dialog about what may have happened.
     
  21. MikePro

    MikePro Major Contributor

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    no problem at all! flip the face in the sign cabinet, and install the reversed clear print with the sign-lit.
    ...we have a light table, but if I didn't then I'd be doing this all the time if I needed to.

    this second-surface application is really easy. you don't have to worry about bubbles nearly as much since they really won't show-through the face that has another graphic applied.
     
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