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Why go with a solvent printer vs. pigment when using laminate?

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by scauffiel, Jul 18, 2009.

  1. scauffiel

    scauffiel New Member

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    Howdy folks, long time lurker, first time poster. :) Looking to expand from vinyl decal cutting to digital printing but have a question or two.

    I'm not sure of the point to going with a eco/mild/solvent printer over a dye/pigment based printer if you're going to laminate. From what I've read - I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong - laminate protects the surface of your print physically as well as "spectrally" by mitigating the effects of UV on the ink.

    So, basically, are you looking at a banner/sign lasting five years before starting to see the effects of UV (with dye/pigment ink and laminate) versus eight to nine years with solvent type printers and laminate? I saw one company (I seem to have misplaced the link to it just now) that guarantees their laminate will protect from the effects of UV for nine years. If that's the case, why go with the much more expensive solvent type printers when you can get a pretty decent life from non-solvents that print just as well?

    Appreciate the thoughts,
    Steve
     
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  2. iSign

    iSign Major Contributor

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    you meant 5 months right?
     
  3. Flame

    Flame Major Contributor

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    WITH laminate, expect a solvent print to last 5 years. Pigment printers... expect a couple years tops WITH laminate. More like still... under a year.

    Unless you're talking like the thermal printers such as the edge.. those last great!
     
  4. scauffiel

    scauffiel New Member

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    Uhhhh... maybe? lol

    Okay, so per the norm the guys marketing laminate are pretty much smokin' the crack and longevity is primarily ink related - check.

    Appreciate the help! :thumb:

    S.
     
  5. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

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    yes,, they are smoking crack

    Depends on usage and circumstances.
    I have encad pigment based aqua files out there that are just older than 2 years with a good lam. However they are not in direct sunlight.

    I had a trailer with encad water based pigment inks with one side gone and the other side still reasonable using liquid lam. Again the sunlight is a factor.

    I get reasonable work and life out of my encad prints.. However, that is old technology. My advice is get a good solvent based printer at least 52 inches from a really good distributor. And be sure to charge a genuine price. Do not sell your stuff cheap.
     
  6. Biker Scout

    Biker Scout Very Active Member

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    Because you can't print on "Real Vinyl" with an aqueous pigment based printer. Glossy Vinyl and Banners out of the question.

    Plain and Simple.

    You will be relegated to lame matte coated vinyl (which is more expensive per sq. in. btw) and Coated Banner material which scratches while you handle it in your shop. Nevermind allowing the customer to ever touch it. You almost have to liquid laminate them. Again, adding to the cost.

    The lamination is more a "Rule of Thumb" thing... not every shop does it, and not every situation warrants it. But it does protect your shops image as well as the one you just printed.
     
  7. briankb

    briankb Active Member

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    thanks for asking this question. I'm trying to decide between an Epson 9900 44" and a 4-6 color printer only in the $12k range.

    Why does a pigment + laminate only last 1-2 vs a eco/solvent + laminate last 5 years? Doesn't the laminate prevent or at least limit the amount of UV that can get to the ink and fade it? Can you purchase better laminate that will make it last longer?
     
  8. Biker Scout

    Biker Scout Very Active Member

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    There was a Glossy Vinyl that was available to me for a short time for our Canon WF8400... that was a good thing, however, the vinyl was of course calendared, and after a year in the sun the edges would start to curl and lift. Even with lamination. Colors still were fairly vibrant... maybe some of the lighter tints and shades would start to fade away.

    Your expectations about banners lasting more than a year (outdoors) is misplaced. They can, but if there's any movement they will start to deterioriate pretty quickly, needing repairs or replacement.

    Just think of your Aqueous Pigment Printer as your "Indoor Workhorse" and it will be just fine for 99% of your clients who need indoor work done.

    You will need some kind of solvent based printer for any outdoor work you expect to actually sell to real paying clients. If that means that you outsource that stuff until you can afford one, then do that. Just don't offer inferior products to your clients just because your current equipment can kinda, sorta do it if you get compatible materials for your printer.
     
  9. Jester1167

    Jester1167 Very Active Member

    My understanding is that it has to do with the size of the colorant used.

    Pigmented inks (solvent based usually) have larger partical sizes. As the UV hits these larger particals the outside layer fades and the interior layer continues to work.

    Dye based inks (water based usually) have smaller partical sizes.
     
  10. Biker Scout

    Biker Scout Very Active Member

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    Because Solvent based inks actually etch or stain your substrate. Whereas Pigment based inks "Sit on top" of your substrate.
     
  11. briankb

    briankb Active Member

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    cool. thanks for the explanations, that makes sense. I was waiting for an Epson dealer in Jax to call me back so I could ask them about this stuff. Obviously it would have been at the least biased. Now I have something I can work with and make a better decision.
     
  12. Tim Aucoin

    Tim Aucoin Very Active Member

    I want to put my two cents worth into this conversation because I've been through both scenarios mentioned here.

    My first wide format was the Epson 9800 44" pigment based aqueous printer. It is an 8-color printer that uses either 110 or 220ml tanks. I've run this printer very successfully over the last 4 years for indoor applications and even the odd outdoor application on specific substrates like polypropylene and vinyl banner material. I had a piece on my back fence printed in poly that lasted through fall & winter with all the weather it had to bring... but it faded and looked terrible after only 5 months!! Primarily, we use this printer today to print indoor application signs and displays on bond paper and photo paper.

    In November last year, I decided to bring in the Roland SP-540V EcoSol printer. I had heard they were great, did tons of research and made the move. Boy was I right! Not one moment of regret so far. As you all know, this printer uses 4 colors, and up to 440 cartridges. Not only can I print on a much wider variety of substrates, including adhesive vinyl, and very heavy banner material, but I am saving tons of $$$ in ink costs vs. the Epson 9800. I was pleasantly surprised at the photo quality on the Roland when running on photo material. The everyday customer is just as happy with photo quality on the Roland as they are on the Epson. Now, there's no way the Roland can stand up to the Epson's 8 colors when it comes to very high end images (especially Black & White prints), but 99% of the customers that walk through our doors and order this stuff are happy with the results off of the Roland. If I have a professional photographer ordering high end images, I run them on the Epson. Otherwise it hardly get's used now. I'm actually seriously considering selling it!

    I've rambled on here... but the main point I wanted to make is that my move from pigment based aqueous ink to EcoSol Solvent based was a very smart one and is saving me tons of money in ink and substrate costs. Oh yeah... substrates for solvent printers are much less expensive than substrates for aqueous based printers in my experience!

    Hope this has helped some of you!
     
  13. scauffiel

    scauffiel New Member

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    Thanks tons for all the info fellas! I was 90% sold on the solvent types as it was but this just cemented it for me. There was no way I was going to offer crappier materials/solutions to my customers just to "get them something" and I wanted to make the right call the first time - do it right, do it once or do it over - and I hate doing stuff over. I use my Epson for interior stuff right now and have no complaints, but knew going to outdoor stuff was quite a different gig.

    Would you consider it seriously limiting to go with 48" machines over larger? Up to this point I'm just using 30" machines and I've started mentioning in passing about going to 48's (floating the balloon about that with customers to gauge interest) and invariably it's excitement followed by a "gosh, that's BIG!" sort of thing. I'm just curious if you get a lot of interest in banners larger than 48" on one side or if that would cover the majority of your work...?

    Thanks for all the ideas so far!

    S.
     
  14. benjercorp

    benjercorp Member

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    you'll be more competitive with solvent than any other type of printing solution.
    Solvent inks are less expensive so are the materials...
     
  15. Biker Scout

    Biker Scout Very Active Member

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    Industry Standard for a "Small" Wide Format Solvent Based Printer is now 54"

    There are a couple of 48" machines, but they don't exactly print to the edge of a 4' sheet of material. (Well kinda sorta... but more of a hassle) Anyway, there's more 54" wide material out there than 48" or 50"

    If you get the option to choose between a 54" and 64", take the 64"! It will open more doors for you that you might now see right now.
     
  16. BigfishDM

    BigfishDM Merchant Member

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    No matter which machine you get, you will still need to laminate everything but banners and posters. Everything else just about you need to laminate either way, cant do a car wrap without lamination, you cant do tradeshows without lamination, you cant do floor graphics without lamination. Lamination is a great source for profit also! Your printer should be 54" at least also.
     
  17. HaroldDesign

    HaroldDesign Very Active Member

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    Put it this way; Pigment would be garbage after first rainfall without laminate, and non-laminated solvent will outlast laminated pigment.
     
  18. SE SignSupply

    SE SignSupply Member

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    If your use to a 30", 48" will be a nice upgrade. Only you can decide what size is best for your business.

    We just took a used 48" ValueJet, Cutter, and Laminator back in on trade if you're intrested in used equipment.

    Ryan
     
  19. luggnut

    luggnut Very Active Member

    the 48" valujet will print the full 48" right (my falcon 48 will not)

    if so i don't think it would be limiting unless you wrap a lot of vehicles and need the 60+" to get the full hood with no seams. most of my signs are made from 4x8 substrates so i really only miss the larger print size when i have to panel a wrap. only other thing is media for less than 54" can be hard to find sometimes. signwarehouse has some that is 49.6 and 48 i think
     
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