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Author Topic: Anybody making Metal Prints on their Canon, Epson or HP Wide Format Printer?  (Read 9401 times)

uintaangler

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No, I'm not planning on purchasing a heat press
But I am wondering if it is feasible to make the print myself and then send it off to somebody with the heat press to mount it onto the aluminum for me
Is a special printer required or can it be done with an Epson, Canon, or HP Wide Format printer?
Thanks,
Bob
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Scott Martin

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It requires special sublimation inks and tight calibration, which you wouldn't be able to do without the ability to do the whole process in house. There's also latent image stability issues which means you need to be consistent with the time between printing and sublimating. It that interval varies it will throw the tonality off. Better to do it all or send it off.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2014, 09:52:40 am by Scott Martin »
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dgberg

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Bob,
If you would like a primer on dye sublimation Chromaluxe metal prints go to YouTube.
Conde Systems has a library of over a hundred videos on everything dye sub.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2014, 02:57:21 pm by Dan Berg »
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bgphoto

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Scott, I have a metal lab here in the midwest and I don't really understand what you mean by "latent image stability". Can you explain!

Ben
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brinked

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Hey Bob,

Many printers can be converted to use dye sub inks.  There are bulk ink systems as well as close cart systems, both typically sold by sawgrass.

Whatever printer you decide on, you will pretty much only be able to use that printer for dye sub inks.  Its a real pain to go back.

But lets say you have a printer setup and ready to go for sublimation purposes.  Once you print an image using dye sub inks, you should press it that same day.  I would not recommend pressing much more than 48 hours have went by.  When I was starting out I tried to press some old prints I made a week ago, the transfer did not come out clean at all and it had bad color and a bunch of small color voids.

Once you get beyond the 48 hour window I would assume that even though you will get a clean transfer into the metal, the colors might be a bit off so you might have to have a custom profile built for that.

If I were you and were serious about doing this.  I would wait until later this year.  Right now sawgrass owns the patent on dye sub inks and its really expensive.  Their patent expires at the end of this year and that should open the door for competition which will bring a decrease in pricing for sublimation inks.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2014, 06:49:24 pm by brinked »
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uintaangler

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Will,
I am quite sure that whatever I try unless I make the large investment you have already made and then spend a couple of years of trial and error ( and error, and error and error ) I won't get the type of results I am getting from the prints you have already done for me
I like the look of the Metallic Prints you did for me and I am just trying to figure out how close I can come using my printer - only because I really do enjoy making prints
What it looks like is I will continue to print certain prints for myself but using your metal prints makes a ton of sense for any Art Shows I do because of not having to frame and add glass!
Bob
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brinked

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Thanks for the high praise Bob.  I am glad you love the prints.

With that said, if its something you wanted to do, I dont think you should stop yourself from doing it.  It is a very rewarding process and that is exactly why I do it.  When my heat press counts down the final few seconds I get excited every time and then looking at the final result is extremely rewarding.  I am sure canvas prints feel the same way once you see them in a frame or up on a wall, its something to be proud of.

I do not think I will be doing canvas prints anytime soon but its something I wish I can also offer. 

If you wanted to get started with metal prints you can get started for around $600.00 total and you will be able to print up to 12 x 18 sized prints with an Epson WorkForce WF-7010.  You can get a used one for under $200.  Then get a cheap 16 x 20 heat press from ebay or craigslist.  You can call up cobrainks for some aftermarket sublimation inks.  The great thing about ordering from cobra is the guy who owns it is extremely helpful in getting you started and he has a lot of great information and videos on his site. 

And that is exactly how I got started.  After practicing on that setup I moved on to the biggest heatpress and printer I can find.  Be prepared to dedicate at least a month or 2 into perfecting your printing and pressing formula.
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mcpix

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If you wanted to get started with metal prints you can get started for around $600.00 total and you will be able to print up to 12 x 18 sized prints with an Epson WorkForce WF-7010.  You can get a used one for under $200.  Then get a cheap 16 x 20 heat press from ebay or craigslist.  You can call up cobrainks for some aftermarket sublimation inks.  The great thing about ordering from cobra is the guy who owns it is extremely helpful in getting you started and he has a lot of great information and videos on his site.

Since the WF-7010 is a 4 color printer, did you go with a 4 color or 8 color large format? If you went with 8 inks, can you see the difference?
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brinked

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Since the WF-7010 is a 4 color printer, did you go with a 4 color or 8 color large format? If you went with 8 inks, can you see the difference?

I went with the epson 9890.  The 7010 was just for practice and to get a feel for it.  The printer the inks and the press were all far inferior to my current setup now.  I did produce some good looking prints but the metal was a real pain.  If you're going to get into pressing metal you need to have a swing away press at the least.  And I would even go as far as saying that you must have a pneumatic press for business purposes. 

Yes I can clearly see the difference, but like I said, too many variables changed to say what is the biggest reason for improvement.
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bgphoto

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Will,
I am curious, are you still using cobra inks? If so, did you create your own profiles or did Cobra provide them for you?

Ben
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iladi

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You can print directly on metal with a DirectToSubstrate printer.
I have a modified Epson 4880 printer that can do that. There are many vendors of such modified printers.
And there are a few inks that can do that. Aqueous ink or alcohol based inks. Both pigment.

Sepiax inks are aqueous inks that can print on everything. Ink is activated by heat so you have to modify your printer to heat the substrate.
Or you can buy a ready to use one like this
http://www.graphicsone.com/large-format-printers/printers/go-printers/go-rj900-io.html

Jetbest inks are alcohol based inks that can print also on everything. These inks are in my modified 4880. Although heat is required to have a better bond between ink and substrate, you can print at room temperature and dry the prints with a hairdryer for instance and not have the printer modified in any way. http://www.jetbest.com/product_magic%20ink.html

Or you can buy a UV printer.
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shadowblade

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You can print directly on metal with a DirectToSubstrate printer.
I have a modified Epson 4880 printer that can do that. There are many vendors of such modified printers.
And there are a few inks that can do that. Aqueous ink or alcohol based inks. Both pigment.

Sepiax inks are aqueous inks that can print on everything. Ink is activated by heat so you have to modify your printer to heat the substrate.
Or you can buy a ready to use one like this
http://www.graphicsone.com/large-format-printers/printers/go-printers/go-rj900-io.html

Jetbest inks are alcohol based inks that can print also on everything. These inks are in my modified 4880. Although heat is required to have a better bond between ink and substrate, you can print at room temperature and dry the prints with a hairdryer for instance and not have the printer modified in any way. http://www.jetbest.com/product_magic%20ink.html

Or you can buy a UV printer.

These look like interesting inks, being able to print on uncoated paper, ceramics, metal sheet and other surfaces.

What is their surface quality like (gloss differential, etc.)? Also, any word on the longevity of their pigments?

It's easy enough to modify an Epson printer with a platen heater with thermostat control.
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iladi

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These are pigment inks, comparable to solvents (jetbest inks at least) in terms of longevity. So I suppose they are no worst than aqueous pigments.

As far as quality goes I'll try to print on an aluminum sheet in the following days and post here the result. If you, or anybody else have a special image to print, I'll be happy to.
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shadowblade

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These are pigment inks, comparable to solvents (jetbest inks at least) in terms of longevity. So I suppose they are no worst than aqueous pigments.

As far as quality goes I'll try to print on an aluminum sheet in the following days and post here the result. If you, or anybody else have a special image to print, I'll be happy to.

Which Jetbest ink colours are you using? With a 4880 you can use 8 inks at a time, with a 4/7/9900 you can use 10 inks at a time. I see they have a white ink, too.

Do you only use it for printing on aluminium? It'd be interesting to make a print on plain, uncoated fine art paper and see how it prints (they say it's suitable for printing on uncoated paper) and to print a test chart on a well-documented inkjet paper, in order to compare its gamut and longevity with OEM inks. Without knowing which pigments they used for certain colours, particularly yellow and magenta, it's hard to say how good the longevity will be.
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iladi

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I'm using CMYKWWWW. But I have disabled the white channels as it was a pain in.... to keep them out of clogging.
I'm using this printer to print on small objects. The 4880 is converted in a A2 flatbed and I can print on objects up to 10 cm high.

I'm also using jetbest ecosolvent inks in my Roland printer and they have comparable longevity with OEM inks. That means about three years outdoor, not laminated. Also, greater gamut than OEM inks. As far as I can see they (jetbest) have good pigments. As far as magic inks I have make just one single profile, on PVC media. Results were good so I haven't bother with numbers of gamut volume. I'll look for it tomorrow.
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brinked

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Will,
I am curious, are you still using cobra inks? If so, did you create your own profiles or did Cobra provide them for you?

Ben

No I currently use sawgrass IQ Pro Photo inks.  Cobra does provide ICC profiles, but they are only for smaller printers with a 4 cart system.
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shadowblade

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I'm using CMYKWWWW. But I have disabled the white channels as it was a pain in.... to keep them out of clogging.
I'm using this printer to print on small objects. The 4880 is converted in a A2 flatbed and I can print on objects up to 10 cm high.

I'm also using jetbest ecosolvent inks in my Roland printer and they have comparable longevity with OEM inks. That means about three years outdoor, not laminated. Also, greater gamut than OEM inks. As far as I can see they (jetbest) have good pigments. As far as magic inks I have make just one single profile, on PVC media. Results were good so I haven't bother with numbers of gamut volume. I'll look for it tomorrow.

How about longevity on the alcohol-based Magic Inks?

Unfortunately, it only takes one bad pigment or a profile that makes too much use of light inks to ruin an inkset's lightfastness. Without Yellow (the Yellow 74 pigment, specifically), Epson inks are just as long-lasting as Canon or HP inks. But the presence of Yellow 74 literally halves the lightfastness of that inkset in comparison with Canon/HP.

I'm currently experimenting with American Inkjet Systems inks, which have a wider than normal gamut and have been used for outdoor signage, anecdotally outlasting solvent prints. But they are water-based - if the alcohol-based inks can provide a better result on uncoated paper and print on a wider variety of surfaces while maintaining longevity equal to or better than OEM inks, then they'd be worth considering.
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Scott Martin

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Scott, I have a metal lab here in the midwest and I don't really understand what you mean by "latent image stability". Can you explain!

If you print two copies of the same image on transfer paper and transfer one immediately and transfer the other one the next day you'll see differences, and that's what we call latent image stability in practical sublimation purposes. In uintaangler's case that could be a problem if he's taking his images somewhere else to do the sublimation step.

The latent image stability problem isn't too bad with sublimation inks, but if you're picky you'll notice it - particularly in a four color B&W image. When I calibrate these machines we talk about setting a standard wait time between printing and sublimation and use that for all the calibration steps. Of course the prints change once printed so letting them sit at least an hour after sublimation is also important, in that context.

Latent image stability is also a concern with silver halide processes and can be a problem on machines like the Oce Lightjet where the exposed paper needs to be manually fed into the processor.
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Scott Martin

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Since the WF-7010 is a 4 color printer, did you go with a 4 color or 8 color large format? If you went with 8 inks, can you see the difference?

Sublimation has a significant bleed issue. On one hand this limits fine detail but on the other hand it completely eliminates visible dots. Because of this, I've seen 4 color CMYK inksets (like those in the Evo printers) create prints that are perfectly smooth and free of dots. However, Epson's Surecolor sublimation printers use a 4 color inkset that yields pretty lousy tonality. I have clients with Epson's Surecolor sublimation printers and a bunch of 9880s full of 3rd party sublimation ink and they greatly prefer the 9880s. So the ink is a huge factor here! Some inkset are much easier to calibrate and profile than others I've noticed. I wish I kept better notes on which inksets I've worked with in different shops but I'd say those Evo inks are thus far my favorite. 
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shadowblade

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I'm using CMYKWWWW. But I have disabled the white channels as it was a pain in.... to keep them out of clogging.
I'm using this printer to print on small objects. The 4880 is converted in a A2 flatbed and I can print on objects up to 10 cm high.

I'm also using jetbest ecosolvent inks in my Roland printer and they have comparable longevity with OEM inks. That means about three years outdoor, not laminated. Also, greater gamut than OEM inks. As far as I can see they (jetbest) have good pigments. As far as magic inks I have make just one single profile, on PVC media. Results were good so I haven't bother with numbers of gamut volume. I'll look for it tomorrow.

By the way, is the output from the Magic Inks glossy, or matte, or glossy on glossy media and matte on matte media? Is there any gloss differential? Do they seem to be as lightfast as the solvent inks (i.e. 2-3 years for outdoor signage)?
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