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Completely washed out backlit panels

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by Reaction GFX, Jul 22, 2020.

  1. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    Never sure which forum to post in as this could go in a few different ones, so I just picked General...

    I have a customer that does lots of electrical signs/lighting/etc, and I make all of his faces. Usually we use cut translucent vinyl, but once in a while I have no choice but to print them. Recently my customer retrofitted a monument cabinet with LEDs and flat faces. I made the main panels using cut vinyl and they look great. Unfortunately, there are four slide-in changeable panels at the bottom of the sign that his customer wanted to put images on, so I had no choice but to print them (Epson S40600). The area where these panels go already has white polycarbonate with clear tracks, so he provided me with .112" clear poly panels to put the graphics on. I printed reversed on clear vinyl, applied second surface, and then backed everything up with white translucent vinyl. I expected them to be a little washed out when lit, but as you can see by the attached pic YOU CAN'T SEE THE PANELS AT ALL!! They are COMPLETELY washed out! I wish I could do these with cut vinyl, but I just can't as they have photo images. I think the cabinet is just too bright with the retrofit LEDs and flat faces instead of pan faces. I'm going to go pull the panels and apply a second print to each, applied first surface, printed on the white translucent. That will effectively double up the image (one first surface and one second surface), but I'm afraid it's STILL going to look washed out. Maybe that's not the best idea? Would I be better off removing the existing second surface prints and applying TWO prints first surface? Would that even make much difference? Anyone have any advice here? The cabinet is just soooo bright!

    Thanks!!!
     

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  2. greysquirrel

    greysquirrel Active Member

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    what profile dd you use? They have backlit panels and I believe the Epson allows you to printmultii layer or multi strike to beef up density..
     
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  3. Solventinkjet

    Solventinkjet DIY Printer Fixing Guide

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    Normally with back lit you need to print it at least with double strike (each pass is printed twice for more ink density). If you think about it, your cut vinyl translucent is probably 2 - 4 mil but 1 layer of ink is a tiny percentage of that thickness which is why light just shines right through it. Upping the density will help.
     
  4. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Profile might help, double strike and all that other stuff could possibly make it better, but even the white copy on the blue field is hard to read. It appears the guy used to high a lumens for the transition, instead of comparable to what was in there. Ask him what he used, before you re-do your stuff for nothing.
     
  5. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    Best way to do these is two prints. We also use an Epson.
    Use translucent white plastic. Print once on clear, apply that directly to the plastic. Print the exact same file on translucent white vinyl and laminate with UV clear. Apply that directly over the clear print. Registration is easy if you print and trim both so that they are the exact same size rectangle, just a little smaller than your plastic, say a quarter inch from the edge.
     
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  6. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    I'm trying to fix these with the least amount of work possible. I didn't provide the poly, my customer did, and he provided clear poly since the panel on the sign is already white poly. I've done the two layered prints applied first surface before (one on clear, then one on trans, laminated), and it worked out okay, but I'd rather not have to remove what's already on there if I can avoid it. Do we think one print applied second surface (already on there) and one print first surface is going to be an issue? I was wondering about possible shadowing or just print-to-print alignment being a pain, but the material is only .112" thick. I'm thinking this is the easiest fix and I may just try this first.

    I realize the sign is too bright. He probably did use too many LEDs or LEDs that are just too bright. I don't think that's going to change. I have to make the best of the existing situation.

    As for profiles, I've had zero luck finding many profiles for the S40600 and GamaPrint RIP. I don't believe I have a profile for anything backlit. I don't print a lot of backlit signs, and I've found that my basic adhesive vinyl profiles (Arlon, since that's what I typically use) tend to work pretty well for most medias. This printer is far less profile-dependent than my old GS6000 was. Can anyone point me to a source for profiles that work in GamaPrint? I had a full version of Onyx X10 that I used with my GS 6000, but I just can't afford the $2500 upgrade to make it work with the S40600, and I've found GamaPrint to be sufficient for my use (except for situations like this , unfortunately). Profiles seem much more readily available for the full version of Onyx, unless I'm missing something and I can use those profiles in GamaPrint...???

    Just throwing it out there...I also do have an EDGE printer which rarely gets used. These panels are only 8.5" tall. Should I just process print these on the EDGE on clear vinyl, contour cut, remove existing prints/trans vinyl, apply EGDE prints and call it a day? Quality would obviously suffer, but at least they'd be visible and the huge dots of the EDGE probably wouldn't be very noticeable form more than a few feet away. EDGE print should be much brighter, no? I know there are translucent and solid foils, anyone know if the standard process foils are translucent? I've never used the EDGE for anything backlit before...
     
  7. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    I take that back. Looks like I DO have a profile for 3M IJ900F Backlit. Should I try that printed on the translucent white vinyl and just apply that first surface? In the past whenever I've tried a "double hit" profile, the prints look great lit, but awful when not lit.
     
  8. LarryB

    LarryB Member

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    I would sub it out to Indy Imaging or B2Sign. There is a learning curve to this and it sounds like you want to get it done fast and right.
     
  9. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    This job seems like a hobbled mess with the customer telling you what type of boards to use and you being too cheap to fix it. These are small signs AT GROUND LEVEL, how much can you loose by redoing them? do what you have to do to fix it and stop worrying about pennies.
     
  10. WYLDGFI

    WYLDGFI Merchant Member

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    A print situation like this calls for Day Night backlit....we would print on a translucent white, to push back the lights some, hit the ink dense at the back...white ink layer it the print the image again. Only capable of doing this on UV printers. Someone else suggested doing the same thing old school with multiple prints above.
     
  11. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    Honestly, I find your reply a little condescending. In case you hadn't heard, we are in the middle of a pandemic and I'm a very small shop struggling to survive. PENNIES COUNT RIGHT NOW. My customer has been in the sign industry for 30+ years. Yes, he used LEDs that were a bit too bright. Yes, he probably should have given me white poly. Everyone makes mistakes. I'm doing my best to try to rectify this one without spending a ton of time and extra materials on it. I'm already not going to make a dime on it.

    To everyone else that replied with actual useful information, thank you.
     
  12. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    My information is useful to people that want to look like professionals. You did not find it very useful because that is not the direction you want to go in. Obviously something is a miss if you are not making any money from the get go. I suspect there are business related issues going on here other than this failed sign. You should at the very least be doubling your money so if you have to redoing everything your not our $$.
     
  13. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

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    If it's any consolation, please know the price of gasoline here California is much, much more costly than where you are. You've saved already.

    Also study and realize some fundamentals of your project. The photo example is grossly overexposed and not giving you a real perception of the sign. The printing methods offered in earlier posts are the remedy. It's not that the sign is too bright, it's more that the graphic is not dense enough. Consider a light table for your work area when the time is right to do so.

    Good luck. Things will get better.
     
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  14. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    I've been in the industry full-time for nearly 20 years. My father has been a sign painter since the 70s. I'm not new to this, but I've only been running my own shop for 3 years now, so yes, I'm relatively new to the business aspect. I have a decent customer base and they all love me and the work I do. My first two years were quite profitable, so I am making money just fine. This year is a different story entirely. Unfortunately, my best customer is a live music venue group in town and they are closed indefinitely, so that hit me pretty hard. I would have made money on this job had I not needed to re-do it. I don't have to re-do "everything," I just don't do many printed backlit panels.

    Again, your information is not at all helpful, but thanks for calling me cheap and a poor businessman.
     
  15. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    I would go ahead and try the translucent print on the front surface. Might work. Might have a ghosting.
     
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  16. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

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    And this presents a serious problem. The best and easiest materials to work with are costly and have a shelf life. I recommend you find a good source for back-lits when you find the time.
     
  17. fresh

    fresh Very Active Member

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    We have done many printed panels with one reverse on clear applied to 2nd surface, and one translucent double strike applied to first surface. It works great.
     
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  18. rjssigns

    rjssigns Major Contributor

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    Unclebun is on point. Start with white translucent faces.
     
  19. jfiscus

    jfiscus Map Wraster

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    His lights are too bright, so to compensate you're gonna have to dim them a lil bit to make your print legible. If he supplied you with clear plastic, print to translucent white and apply it to that, first surface. When printing your RIP should somewhere have an option to double print or adjust (increase) your ink density. I've never used that RIP, but every other one I've used has that option.
     
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  20. GAC05

    GAC05 Major Contributor

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    Open the cabinet and see if there is space to install a diffuser panel in front of the LEDs to bring them down a little.
    If you can't do that add a layer of 3M 7725 or 7125 white vinyl on the back of the prints. The glue is clear and will pass light but will dim the LEDs a good more than trans white. Does not have to be 3M, can be any vinyl with clear glue. Best to stick with a cast film. I've used it as a backer for fuel branding in combo with translucent red punched out through the white to keep the letters bright with the background not so intense.
     
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