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Digital Print on Lighted Sign - Best way?

Discussion in 'General Chit-Chat' started by MarkH42, Aug 21, 2012.

  1. MarkH42

    MarkH42 Member

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    We primarily do decals and what little sign work we do is usually cut vinyl. But we have a customer looking for a lighted sign with a graphic that will need to be digitally printed. We have a Mimaki JV3-160SP and I plan to print on clear and lay the vinyl on a piece of translucent lexan. I'm concerned about UV stability, even with lamination. The customer mentioned that his old sign had the graphic laid on the inside of the sign face, which would mean the sign face had to be clear. This makes no sense to me. Am I missing something? I need some help from the pros! Thanks in advance for your help.
     
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  2. SolitaryT

    SolitaryT Member

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    You should be fine if you use clear or white plex/lexan with a 3M Translucent Vinyl. That stuff is designed to be backlit. Go with the matching 3M laminate, and they'll warranty the UV side of things for 5-10 years.
     
  3. jayhawksigns

    jayhawksigns Very Active Member

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    A lot of ways to do it.

    In house method here is to print two files, one reverse. Use white lexan, put the right reading vinyl down first, flip the lexan over and then align and apply the reverse vinyl on the rear.
     
  4. CS-SignSupply-TT

    CS-SignSupply-TT Very Active Member

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    TWO PRINTs

    On the REVERSE print, are you using CLEAR or WHITE vinyl? I am sure this is an obvious answer, but I thought I would ask any way. :thumb:
     
  5. DRPSignsNGrafix

    DRPSignsNGrafix Very Active Member

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    We use white for both sides. Boss to cheap to order clear in as well. They come out looking great
     
  6. GB2

    GB2 Very Active Member

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    You can print that on tranlucent white vinyl or clear vinyl, laminate and apply to white acrylic. You should do a double print ink with a high resolution setting, I'm sorry it's been a while since I've worked with a Mimaki and I don't remember the exact settings without looking at a machine. I know that you could do that with Rasterlink but I don't know what RIP you are using. There are different ways to accomplish this but what I said is the eaisiest and most successful way for you to do it, especially if you are limited in your supplies and experience with this type of work.
     
  7. MikePro

    MikePro Major Contributor

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    i also prefer doing dual-layer prints both with white trans, as the clear is always a bit more pricey and generates the same result.

    dual-layer is our standard, as just 1 layer of print "washes-out" when lit and double-striking with ink makes prints look too dark/muddy in the daylight.

    lamination protects the print from UV degradation and by the time it does fade, nearly a decade will have passed.
    cast materials only. but that's just me.
     
  8. sfr table hockey

    sfr table hockey Very Active Member

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    If you are wondering about just using a clear laminate to print on and then put onto the translucent lexan, I think you will see that it is washed out when lit. It may look ok in the day but when lit fade out. If you try to double up on the clear layers to make it look better lit, that may work a bit but in the day the double layer then looks dark. This is why most times you print onto the backlit translucent media and have that on the front with a clear layer (or another translucent layer as said above) that goes behind. This lets the image look good in the day and when lit, the added layer of clear print boosts the color.

    When you lay a graphic on the inside of a clear sheet you first need to reverse the image so when its stuck to the back it looks correct from the front, and then lay a final layer of a white translucent over the entire back side. Again if you were to just use clear as your print layer you may still notice the image fades when lit. Most times you will see lettering done with the translucent backlit media and applied to the back of a clear sheet and then covered with the last layer of white.

    If you want to try a few test prints and then hold them up to a lit scrap of lexan you can try some samples. If you have some oracal 751 (has a clear adheasive backing) it lets light through and when printed on is not that bad as a backlit however not as good as the right media for the job.
     
  9. MarkH42

    MarkH42 Member

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    This is all great information. Of all the issues I anticipated, I never considered that a single layer of digital printing might be "washed out" when backlit. I think I am going to print one layer in reverse on clear and lay that on the inside, then print another layer on 3M translucent, laminate that layer, and lay it on the outside, all on a piece of translucent lexan. Thanks for the advice!
     
  10. MarkH42

    MarkH42 Member

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    CORRECTION - CLEAR Lexan, not translucent.
     
  11. jayhawksigns

    jayhawksigns Very Active Member

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    We do everything on clear vinyl applied to translucent lexan. That way I don't have to stock any translucent vinyl.
     
  12. Matt-Tastic

    Matt-Tastic Member

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    The way i recommend is using a White vinyl made for backlit applications (i almost always recommend Oracal 3850). This way, there is a white point in the vinyl for day viewing, but that same white diffuses the backlighting, allowing for non washed out graphics at night.

    This can be applied to translucent or transparent substrate (i've seen plex, lexan, and glass).
     
  13. GB2

    GB2 Very Active Member

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    I wouldn't put one print layer on the front of the substrate and one print layer on the back of the substrate, you'll never get the registration right and even if you do the thickness of the substrate will throw it off if not viewed perfectly level. Generally when doing the double layer of printing, they are applied on top of each other. Believe me, do the double ink print, it's not anywhere near a problem of too dark in the day time and if it is, tell them to keep the light on all the time. It's the easiest, most cost effective and most successful way....try it, you'll like it.
     
  14. Drywater

    Drywater New Member

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    I don't know if this will help but here is the way i have done it. I print the image on a white sheet of .010 styrene with our vutek GS2000pro it then fits between two sheets of .125 clear lexan and fit into a frame.
    Looks great in the day time and great backlit. And you can switch it out in 10 min.
    Oh and the finish size is 24.25"x 35"
     
  15. Evoindustries

    Evoindustries New Member

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    When applying the inner print to line up with the outside print is it easily seen with the white trans? This will be my first time doing this as well. I am confident in my ability but any extra tips is always a major plus! Thanks
     
  16. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

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    use a lightbox :smile:

    registration isn't super critical, since all the 2nd surface print does is add saturation/density when backlit
     
  17. SightLine

    SightLine Very Active Member

    Yep - even if it is off by a 16th of an inch will not matter for the inside print. Try to minimize it of course. You can probably even get away with as much as an eighth of an inch off. Someone a couple of years ago (when this thread was last active) mentioned their boss too cheap to buy clear. We don't either, for the inner reverse printed part we just reverse print on clear laminate. Works great. Also - after applying the front layer, you can hand the edge of the sign off the edge of the table and use a flashlight, set a light on the floor, etc to shine from below to make lining up the second layer easier. Line it up and tape it in place...
     
  18. GB2

    GB2 Very Active Member

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    For those of you printing on clear, exactly what material are you using?

    Is anyone printing backlit with an HP Latex? If so, exactly what material, RIP and settings are you using?
     
  19. Vital Designs

    Vital Designs Vital Designs

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    This is how I do it on a JV33 (any printer will work). I print the image on translucent white (noting the exact alignment of the print on the machine). I then laminate the print with a clear material. I put the print back in the mimaki, lining it up exactly where the original print was. I then reprint the image onto the clear which if you aligned everything correctly will register over the original print. After this you can laminate to uv protect the clear layer. The prints look great and consistent day and night.
     
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