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Don't waste time with high quality

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by ams, Sep 7, 2018.

  1. ams

    ams Very Active Member

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    The first few years as a sign maker, I always printed my graphics at 1440 X 1440 and even 720X1440. I always thought I would be better than the average sign shop and produce better quality signs. Years later I learned that the customer doesn't give a crap what quality is it. A banner is a banner, not going to be viewed up close.

    Of course for artwork like canvas, high quality is a must. But for your average typical signs, it's not worth the ink or printing time. Even 720 X 720 looks the same as 1440 X 1440 to me. If you have an older printer like me, you can't tell the difference, it can only print so well.
     
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  2. Solventinkjet

    Solventinkjet DIY Printer Fixing Guide

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    Agree 100%. Also, I see people printing in uni-directional all the time because they say it cuts down on banding etc. It also slows you down in a major way. If your alignments are done properly, you shouldn't be able to tell the difference between a bi-directional and uni-directional print from 2 feet away.
     
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  3. TimToad

    TimToad Very Active Member

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    While in general agreement, I think one needs to take it on a case by case basis.

    If we're doing some print-cut decals where the goal is super solid looking colors on larger size letters or graphics, we use high quality. Banners, cheap decals, short term jobs, etc. its standard or even billboard if its all just a 75/75/75/100 built black on white.
     
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  4. EffectiveCause

    EffectiveCause Premium Subscriber

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    That's interesting because when we had an old Mimaki UV hybrid, the few times I forgot to switch it to bi-directional, I always thought the banding looked worse. And yes! It would take twice as long to print and that printer was already sooooo slow to begin with.
     
  5. signman315

    signman315 Signmaker

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    Also agreed 100%. In my shop it's considered a mistake to over kill the quality. Know and prepare your customer's expectations and don't waste your or their time over killing the quality. In our shop we have 3 short hand terms for the quality expected.....billboard quality, regular quality, and museum quality. Billboard basically means no holds barred any flaws accepted, time is more important (within reason)....regular quality means a minor flaw or two is acceptable(small dust in the laminate, 1/8" misaligned or less on large signs or 1/16" on smaller signs, slight banding, etc)...and museum quality means absolute perfection, flawless in every way. And pricing reflects each scenario. When the designer/sales person sells the job they mark on the work order what the quality expectation is and the production team works accordingly. It's the designer's/sales person's responsibility to understand the needs of the project and communicate quality expectation accordingly. Not only is time lost on going overboard on quality but also unnecessary wear and tear on your equipment and people. A lot of shops write it off as a cost of business but it's a mistake, and customer's love having the choice....sometimes the same customer wants billboard quality on one project and museum quality on another. It's common sense to me, but sense isn't as common these days!
     
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  6. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

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    I felt compelled to quote this entire post because it's spot on. It's just good business. Consider the same type of policy for turnaround also. Customers appreciate crystal clear options.
     
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  7. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

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    Unfortunately it seems you missed some good training. Obviously it would have saved you some time and money.

    Going forward, realize that printing at higher resolutions should not use any more ink than other resolutions other than special draft modes. It should stand to reason more ink on the media would result in a darker print. All your resolutions should match in color and density. Therefore, if your higher resolution print is darker than the other, a more accurate ICC profile needs to used. I have encountered some collections of varied media profiles which are exactly the same profile. They are just deceptively named to be media-specific. Beware.

    As far as printing time, this could be machine make and model dependent. Some machines can print faster with better quality at a lower pass rate than others using more passes.

    Good luck from here on!
     
  8. GAC05

    GAC05 Major Contributor

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    Heh,
    I didn't even know my printer could do 1440x1440. Learn something new every day here.
     
  9. Bly

    Bly Very Active Member

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    It's also known as the Why Fn Bother mode.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
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  10. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

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    This !

    75/75/75/100 built black is suspect to me. That ink density is over 320% total ink limit. As far as ink cost, you probably don't produce enough black background work to where these numbers will impact your wallet but it may be very possible to get a better black with less ink. 60/40/40/100 is far more typical to amount to 240% ink limit. Inks should be transparent, sort of like filters. So, if there is too much yellow say, that color may be obscuring the black ink resulting in a muddy or blocked maximum density. If you find your rich black must be those high values, I would suspect inferior (diluted) ink, which I've encountered.

    Just a heads up.
     
  11. TimToad

    TimToad Very Active Member

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    Sorry, I should have been clearer. We use the 75/75/75/100 on our flatbed and more like a 50/50/50/100 on our Roland. We use OEM ink in both.

    Our ION Solara sips ink efficiently beyond our wildest dreams. Our 10 year old VP-540 just keeps chugging along and we really can't complain about its efficiency either.
     
  12. equippaint

    equippaint Very Active Member

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    I dont have the experience of most here but 0/0/0/100 always seemed plenty sufficient on roll printers. Ive only ever needed to make rich black when sending to offset. It seems like a big waste to run so much ink. Billboard keeps getting thrown around here but what signs are anyone actually producing at this low of quality?
     
  13. gabagoo

    gabagoo Major Contributor

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    Many illustrator files come in this way and if I don't change it to a rich black, it looks like a dark rusty brown
     
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  14. SightLine

    SightLine Very Active Member

    Agreed with most all of the above but yeah 100% K only for black does not generally look very good. Try a side by side test of something like 40/40/40/100 next to 0/0/0/100 and you will see the difference. As Vander mentioned, bidirectional versus unidirectional printing also play a big role in speed and I'll add that passes are another important factor. I think in 16 years I've only tried 1440x1440 once just to see for the heck of it. Different model have different resolutions available as well. I literally maxed out the settings also running uni, and at like 32 pass. It took forever to print a couple of feet. Granted it did look stunning but hardly anymore so than say 720x1080 bi-di 12 pass which is our "very high quality" go to resolution. Normal stuff we run at 720x720 8 pass, and draft low quality we run 540x360 4 pass. Another option to look for is on the printer itself. I forget what its called off the top of my head but on Mimaki when printing the head can be set to fully travel across the full width of the loaded media for every pass or set to just go the width of what is actually being printed. With is set to the full option, even if there is only printing on the first 2 inches of the right edge, the head will move the full width of the size roll loaded, while in the optimal setting it will move to print those two inches only which is a lot faster.

    Another (that some disagree with and I realize some RIP's almost require it) is that we design everything in RGB and/or Pantone Solid Coated spot colors. CMYK has a much smaller and duller gamut than RGB and makes larger files. We actually have optimized all of our processes to use specifically Adobe RGB 1998 color profiles. It might seem counter-intuitive to some since your printer is using CMYK inks but those CMYK inks do not in any way match in color to the CMYK colors in your design software. Your CMYK inks have a MUCH WIDER range of color than CMYK design files can define and you are crippling your color gamut by designing in CMYK. Dont worry, your RIP, at least most modern RIP's anyways deal with it just fine.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
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  15. Kentucky Wraps

    Kentucky Wraps Kentucky Wraps

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    1440x1440 is no different to the naked eye 1 car lane away than 720p.
    Most signs are seen at much further than a car lane. Unless you're printing a sign for a showroom, you don't need to go that high. We print 95% of our wraps at 720p full scale. Seriously. Banners, yard signs, real estate signs, everything...720 p full scale.
    Nobody has EVER made a comment about print quality except that it looked much better than the last shop they used.
    (Because the other shops had banding all the time & they let it go out that way)

    I promise, the naked eye cannot see a difference between 720 and 1440 at 15 feet away and most can't tell at 5 feet away.
     
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  16. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    I've done uni-directional a few times - when you're doing really small text, uni helps to print it more clear. If your machines settings are locked in 100%, and nozzles are perfect... it may not make a difference... But unless your machine is brand new, thats rarely the case!

    Of course if someone sees slight ghosting in text they wont care.... so for 90% of the work its fine on bi-dir.

    same goes with Low / high quality settings. Our machine heads are dying.. the onlyway we can print without there being terrible banding is printing on slow / high quality. It does take almost 5 x as long, but until our new machine gets here it's all we can do.

    So there are reasons for printing on HQ... but for the majority of stuff, "Normal" quality works perfectly
     
  17. ams

    ams Very Active Member

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    Another thing to watch out for is increasing your ink limits. My media profile had ink limits at 90%, 90%, 85%, 90%. So I thought, Hey I could get better use out of my inks and get a richer color and darker blacks. So I changed it to 100%/100%/100%/100%. Let me tell you, a month later I used 3X more ink than I have ever. I kept buying and buying more inks and then I thought about it. I am not printing anymore than I normally do, the printer is consuming ink like crazy due to the limits. Once I restored it to normal, everything went back to normal.
     
  18. TimToad

    TimToad Very Active Member

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    I find a build of 0/0/0/100 to result in more of a dark greenish/charcoal color than a nice, deep black meant to provide the highest contrast we intend in our design/layout.

    I don't care about a couple dollars spread over $500 worth of ink for four 440ml cartridges which produces thousands of dollars worth of work if it means we're happier with the final outputs and how they match our intended color schemes. I view these primary solid color ink builds the same way I approach mixing paint to get it to cover better. When we print reds or other typically UV affected colors, unless a specific PMS color is specified, we always fortify the colors with a few degrees of the other ink colors to get a more solid, durable color. We're not in the business to redo prematurely fading work and we're located in a extremely high UV affect area. We work on a durability basis versus penny pinching basis, so I drive a lesser car and don't collect other recreational toys than most sign company owners. Bad on me.

    Our reputation is for high quality, durable, well built, visually compelling work, not skimping to save a few cents here and there. Our cost of goods numbers are very much in line with our profitability and our revenues grow every single year, so we'll stick with our approach.

    We have multiple clients now who previously had bought the sales pitch of our primary competitor who were sold unlaminated wrap prints on cheaper material and after short periods of time are now in the fold with us. We just measured up and are preparing to do the third truck in the last six months from one client that fell for it and now less than a year later, the wrap is failing. The colors are fading and the craftsmanship is lousy. Cuts all over the trucks, misaligned graphics, poor overall installation practices. On the initial quote package for five trucks, we were only a few hundred dollars higher per truck. So now after only a year, they get to redo all five at a higher price or be continue to be visually and financially embarrassed about their initial decision. We have embraced them all with grace, humility and professionalism and assured them of our competency.

    When I letter something by hand and the final color is meant to be a deep, rich black, I add a touch of dark blue, dark brown and dark green to my 1Shot Black to fortify it. I firmly believe that these practices improve longevity as well. People on sign painting forums and message boards all sit around and complain about how the products we use aren't as good, as opaque or user friendly as they used to be. When I need white or a light color to cover better, I add a few drops of metallic silver, imitation gold, and black to my white. Its like giving your colors vitamins, speeds up painting time, and adds longevity, which I always thought was a positive trait and goal for how we go about producing our work.

    Well, I'm just trying to counter those weaknesses most of us are seeing in the materials we work with.

    I also tint my primers, so the finish coat doesn't have to work so hard to cover solidly. This is all simple, common sense stuff that my mentors taught me 40 years ago.
     
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  19. Scott Sneddon

    Scott Sneddon New Member

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    Would love to see the price difference
     
  20. signman315

    signman315 Signmaker

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    So let's propose an imaginary scenario....

    A customer calls my shop looking for some graphics for an upcoming art exhibit. Let's say it's the gallery director calling and she/he is new to the job and not sure what type of product they need. All they know is they need something for the title of the art exhibit to be installed on the wall near the entry, they also need some kind of labels for each individual piece of artwork (let's say quantity of (30) all with different content based on the artworks), and then they need something to go on the building exterior to advertise the exhibit. So in all there are basically 3 types of items they need. I will offer them the three levels of "budget" or "quality", educate about the pros/cons of each option and then let them choose. So for example item 1 is the title....I'll offer 3 options for this....first is simple one color, cut vinyl to be installed by the customer (this is the "cheap" option)....second I'll offer a direct printed panel of 3mm PVC and offer to add some design elements to it (borders, graphics, etc, whatever is appropriate...this is the "regular" option)....third I'll offer contour cut dimensional letters with vinyl overlay on the face, or if they prefer brushed metal then I'll offer something from Gemini. I have samples of each product type readily available for the customer to see or to save them the trip I'll send them photos of each product. I'll do something similar for the second item in their needs list (labels for the artwork). The "cheap" option in that case might be direct printed 3mm PVC, the "regular" option might be direct printed 3mm PVC but mounted with standoffs, then the "high end" option might be 3mm clear acrylic with second surface direct print and backed up with white again mounted using standoffs. And for their last need (exterior advertising) I might offer a vinyl banner for the "cheap" option, an ACM sign for the "regular" option, and an LED backlit for the "high end" option.

    Keeping in mind this is a theoretical scenario meant to explain myself and ultimately answer your question about the price difference. Rarely would an art exhibit call for an LED backlit, but you get the idea. So back to your question about the price difference...this is something that would depend on your/my specific pricing structure, who you are competing with, location, business plan, and so on. So I'm not going to start throwing numbers around but cut vinyl is going to be cheaper than a printed PVC panel which will in turn be cheaper than dimensional letters, regardless of your shop specifics those are basic truths in this industry. And so in a situation like this maybe the customer would go "cheap" with the vinyl title because they don't need anything more and don't want to detract from the artwork with an over designed PVC panel, but in the same breath they might go "high end" with the labels for the artwork, and go "regular" with the exterior sign. while they work out what fits in their budget or not. It only takes minutes or a single email to educate the customer on the pros/cons of each option and then let them mix/match as they please. And puts you in a position where if they don't like the look of one of the "cheap" options that THEY chose you can respond by letting them know that you offered other, perhaps more elegant, options. And they are less likely to pass blame onto you and your shop if someone happens to be unsatisfied with the graphics. So the difference in price has more to do with the perceived "quality" of a given process/material as compared to any other process/material i.e. cut vinyl isn't as high "quality" as dimensional lettering. Hope it helps :)
     
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