First of The 5: Deep Discounts on Select LexJet Photo Papers

For one month only – starting today through September 4 – get deep discounts and staggering savings on select LexJet photo papers… up to 40% (and even more on some roll sizes).

First of The Five Photo Paper DiscountsHere are some quick examples…

And that’s not all… there are deep discounts on every size of:

Remember, these prices are only good through September 4, so call a LexJet printing expert today at 800-453-9538 to get your deep discounts on photo papers. This offer is available via phone and at lexjet.com.

Then, check back on September 5 to find out the next outrageous offer of The 5

September 5: ?

October 5: ?

November 5: ?

December 5: ?

How to Make Canvas Printing Work for You, Part 3: Latex, Solvent, UV-Curable Printing

Canvas with the HP Latex Printer
Printing Sunset by Fredrix Gloss Canvas SUV on the new HP Latex 360 printer.

In the previous installment we detailed canvas printing using aqueous-ink printers. Here, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of latex, solvent and UV-curable printers for canvas…

Latex Layout
HP pioneered the use of latex inks in wide-format printing, and recently released its next generation of HP Latex 300-series printers. There are other latex printers out there, but HP’s Latex printers are the standard and best suited for canvas printing since you don’t need to coat the canvas after it’s been printed. Latex inks provide more durability and scratch resistance than aqueous inks and are touted as environmentally-friendly. For super-high production, the HP Latex 3000 provides all the benefits of latex printing, plus higher speeds at billboard-sized widths. Click here to find out what LexJet’s technical support director, Adam Hannig, found as he put the new HP Latex 360 through its paces.

Cost: The cost for the new 64-inch wide printer (the HP Latex 360) is priced around $20,000, which offers the most quality and flexibility within the HP 300 series. Ink and media costs are about the same as they are for aqueous and solvent printers since latex inks work with many of these media types.

Operation: It takes awhile for the heating element on older latex printers to get to the right temperature for printing, but this time has been cut down dramatically with the new HP Latex 300 Series. With latex, you can laminate right away since the ink is dry and outgassed once printed.

Durability: As mentioned with solvent printing, the additional durability of the latex inks allows you to skip the coating step for most applications, though the customer may like the look of a coated print and request it.

Quality: The HP Latex 300 Series also promises to boost quality, inching ever closer to aqueous-quality levels. The fact is that most wide-format inkjet printers will produce the quality you need for high-volume décor canvas printing. If you have a pickier clientele for more custom canvas work you should request samples from the manufacturer/distributor of the printer you’re interested in using files you supply them.

Maintenance: Latex requires less maintenance than a solvent or UV-curable printer, but more than an aqueous printer, though the HP Latex 300 Series includes new features like a maintenance cartridge, instead of a maintenance tank, making maintenance easier and faster.

Solvent Solutions
Solvent printing was a godsend to the sign industry when it first arrived on the scene. Commercial sign makers were continually carping about outdoor durability and the lack of it before solvent printers were introduced to the signmaking scene.

Sunset by Fredrix Satin Canvas SUV
Sunset by Fredrix Satin Canvas SUV printed on a low-solvent printer.

Printer manufacturers rushed to meet this demand and developed a solvent ink set designed to permeate and penetrate vinyl. Aqueous inks are anchored to the surface by an inkjet coating, so the ink sits on the surface, making it less permanent. One way to look at this relationship between ink and vinyl is that solvent ink is like a tattoo and aqueous ink is more like a sticker.

Most of those early solvent inks were hard solvents that were rather caustic and as such could bite into just about any material. Since then, the industry has moved to low/eco solvent inks, so the media designed for these inks requires some sort of treatment or coating to ensure ink adhesion.

As such, more high-volume fine art and décor reproduction companies are migrating to solvent since it eliminates the need for post-print coating; just pick the canvas finish – gloss, satin or matte – and go straight to stretching and finishing.

There is a great range of printer types, from entry-level units that are 54 in. to 72 in. wide and cost between $16,000 and $30,000 to giant 16-foot super-high production printers that can cost up to half a million bucks.

For the purposes of the following solvent printer discussion, we’ll use the Epson SureColor S70670 64-inch low-solvent printer as our benchmark as it sits in that entry- to mid-level range, provides near-aqueous quality printing, and is similar in cost and overall capabilities to those in the same range manufactured by Mimaki, Roland, and Mutoh…

Cost: As mentioned earlier, solvent printers have a higher average entry cost. For typical operation, ink and media costs are generally lower than they are with aqueous printers. But again, media represents only a small percentage of a print operation’s overall cost, so it’s not a significant factor.

Maintenance: The latest generation of solvent printers typically require only an hour or less of maintenance once a month.

Operation:  Outside of minor maintenance, solvent printers will run continuously and similar to an aqueous printer. However, there’s usually a recommended drying and outgassing time recommended before lamination based on the printer model.

Durability: Solvent prints are extremely durable, opening up a wider range of applications that don’t require lamination or coating, including canvas.

Quality: Solvent printers, particularly Epson’s, have made great strides in quality. Though you’re not likely to find the same quality as you will with aqueous printers, there are certain models that come very close to aqueous quality. It’s also important to keep in mind that quality is not only a function of the printer, but of the color management workflow and the media being printed to.

Printheads: Most solvent printers use piezo printheads, which are more durable and long-lasting than the thermal printheads typically found on aqueous printers (excepting Epson’s aqueous photo printers, which also use piezo heads).

Curing Time
For some, UV-curable printing represents the Holy Grail of sign printing because it’s the only wide-format technology that allows direct printing to board materials, such as Coroplast, Gator Board, Sintra, and even doors and tabletops. UV-curable inks are cured or set using UV lamps that are built into the printer so the inks adhere to more materials.

And, with the advent of hybrid UV-curable printers – those that can switch from flatbed to roll-to-roll, such as the CET Color X-Press – the printing potential becomes almost limitless. But with this seemingly limitless capability is an attendant complexity.

Moreover, UV-curable inks are generally not designed for the canvas printing process. The inks are simply not flexible enough for the stretching process, but should be fine for mounted or framed canvas prints.

Applications: A UV-curable printer eliminates the painful application step for board applications; simply print and go. Almost everything, excepting vehicle graphics and stretched canvas, is fair game for a UV-curable printer, allowing more opportunities to make a difference with specialty graphics.

Durability: The durability of UV-curable rivals solvent, and rarely needs lamination, unless you’re looking for a different texture or more rigidity for roll materials.

Quality: For canvas printing, UV-curable printers are really a last resort. If the bulk of your work is direct-to-board printing and you have an occasional canvas project you could certainly do it, particularly if you aren’t planning to stretch and frame the canvas. Some shops print directly to a pre-stretched blank canvas, but in that case you have to paint the edges as most people expect either a gallery wrap (where the image continues onto the edges of the frame, usually mirrored) or a museum wrap (a solid color on the edges).

Cost: Low-end UV-curable printers start at around $60,000 and range up to half a million dollars for a high-quality production printer. The hybrid CET Color X-Press and others like it were designed to strike a balance between economy, production and quality as the lower-end machines are not as sturdy and reliable, while the higher-end industrial printers represent an extraordinary capital investment. You can also use less-expensive uncoated materials and UV-curable inks are generally less expensive.

Maintenance: UV-curable printers require more detailed and time-consuming maintenance about once a month.

Operation: Because of the relative complexity of UV-curable printing, and the need to adjust the printhead height based on the material running through the printer, the variables in the process increase proportionately. Plus, you may need an additional operator, at least part time. High-performance, high-volume printers burn through material quickly, and the material used is often quite heavy. Where a roll of 36 in. wide material is easily loaded on an aqueous or solvent printer by one person, a 300 ft. roll of 60 in. material can weigh around 100 lbs., so someone else will need to be available to help load heavy materials or big boards onto the printer.

For the rest of this series, click on the following links:

Part 1: Materials, Finishes and Textures

Part 2: Printer Technologies for Canvas

Part 4: Coating Canvas

Part 5: Canvas Wrap Options

Boost Production and Quality with Sunset by Fredrix Gloss Canvas SUV

Sunset by Fredrix Gloss Canvas SUV

Designed for print shops running solvent, low-solvent, latex and UV-curable printers, LexJet and Fredrix Print Canvas have jointly developed and introduced a new OBA-free gloss canvas that optimizes canvas output: Sunset by Fredrix Gloss Canvas SUV.

Ideal for gallery-wrapped and framed fine art, photographic and décor applications, the new gloss canvas has a brighter white point than other OBA-free canvases, and is easy to stretch, frame and finish, ensuring a consistent and efficient canvas production workflow.

Sunset by Fredrix Gloss Canvas SUV has an acid-free, pH-neutral poly/cotton base with a light texture and 2×1 weave for archival prints that maximize color gamut and image clarity for custom and production canvas projects.

“As the output quality of solvent and latex printers has improved, demand for a canvas that takes advantage of advances in those print technologies has increased as well. This is all driven by the popularity of canvas prints among consumers, corporations, retailers and other end users,” says Jaimie Mask, LexJet product manager. “Now, print shops with solvent and latex printers can take advantage of that end-user demand and produce canvas prints that meet their needs.”

Sunset by Fredrix Gloss Canvas SUV is now available and shipping from LexJet’s North American Distribution Network, supported by LexJet’s 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee and personal, free and unlimited phone support. Sunset by Fredrix Gloss Canvas SUV comes in 30″, 36″, 54″, 60″ and 64″ widths.

To find out more and to order, call a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538.

New Instant-Dry Photo Papers for Solvent, Low-Solvent, Latex and UV-Curable Printing

Fostergraphs Poster Printing
Fostergraphs’ poster printing for Iowa’s sports teams is now easier, quicker and more dynamic with the addition of LexJet 8 Mil Production Satin SUV 180g.

 

Three new instant-dry photo papers for solvent, low-solvent, UV-curable and latex printers that address both high-end and production-oriented photo reproduction and graphics production have been introduced by LexJet.

The new photo papers were developed to open up new markets and profitable applications for print shops, sign companies, point-of-purchase and exhibit producers, and fine-art reproduction companies.

The new LexJet photo papers include:

LexJet Sunset Photo Satin SUV 275g: Highly scratch-resistant, this 11-mil satin-finish photo paper is perfect for posters, fine photos, corporate and hotel lobby displays, retail displays, décor, and other applications where image quality and performance are essential.

LexJet Sunset Photo Gloss SUV 275g: Provides the same benefits as the new satin photo paper but in a gloss finish. Both papers are specially formulated to dry instantly with low-solvent, solvent, latex and UV-curable inks so that users can put their take-up reel to work for longer production runs. They’re also the thickest, most durable photo papers on the market in their class. The new Sunset SUV photo papers are based on LexJet’s award-winning Sunset line of fine art papers, photo papers and canvases preferred by professional photographers and fine art reproduction companies for their extremely wide color gamut and high Dmax, as well as their ability to hold fine detail.

LexJet 8 Mil Production Satin SUV 180g: Geared toward high-volume production work that requires a balance of quality and economy, this satin-finish production paper features a high-performance, instant-dry, scratch-resistant base for posters, photo reproductions, point-of-purchase displays, and other commercial applications.

“The Sunset Photo Satin and Gloss SUV media print great on our Epson GS6000 low-solvent printer, and the drying time is very good with both,” says Trevor Odell of Colormax Digital, Evansville, Ind. “I’ve been searching for a heavyweight, durable paper for solvent that’s just as good as photo papers for aqueous printers, but at a lower cost, and this is it.”

Fostergraphs Photo Printing
Kent Foster, Fostergraphs, also reports that LexJet’s new SUV photo papers produce excellent saturation and color.

Regarding LexJet 8 Mil Production Satin SUV 180g, Kent Foster, Fostergraphs Inc., Decorah, Iowa, comments: “I tested other solvent photo papers previously and it was always a challenge to get it to dry on our Epson GS6000. This is better now, and the color and saturation is great.”

All three of the new LexJet SUV photo papers allow those who have transitioned to solvent, latex and UV-curable printing from aqueous-based printing to win back customer and market share for higher-end production graphics and photographic reproduction. For long-time users of solvent and UV-curable technologies, the true photo-quality papers open up a range of profitable applications in both emerging and existing markets.
“LexJet’s new suite of photo papers were designed to maximize the production quality of low-solvent, solvent, latex and UV-curable printers, and make production easier,” says Jaimie Mask, LexJet’s product manager. “Our customers are looking for ways to differentiate their output, and that was the driving force behind the development of these new photo papers.”

The new LexJet SUV photo papers are available for next-day delivery in most of the Continental U.S. from one of LexJet’s nationwide distribution centers, and come in 36-in., 54-in., and 61-in. widths. As with all LexJet products they come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538 for more information and to order.

Unique All-Purpose Vinyl Applications for All Kinds of Signs

LexJet Simple Adhesive Vinyl
This construction barricade was printed on LexJet Simple Adhesive Vinyl – Semi-Matte for a medical center.

 

Alan Russell, manager of FastSigns – Airway in El Paso, produces a lot of day-to-day flat sign work, but the truth is that much of it you really wouldn’t characterize as “day-to-day.” In the examples pictured here, Russell and his crack staff had to find a custom solution that would stay within the customer’s budget.

Dry Erase Laminate
An example of one of the dry erase boards printed on LexJet Simple Adhesive Vinyl and laminated with LexJet Dry Erasable Gloss Laminate that FastSigns – Airway in El Paso produces for various groups at Fort Bliss.

“We’re located in a budget-conscious town, so we have to watch the bottom line and keep our re-cuts down,” says Russell. “A big part of that is picking the right print material. For our standard, all-purpose sign printing we mainly use LexJet Simple Adhesive Vinyl – Semi-Matte. We use it both on our Mimaki solvent and our UV-curable flatbed. It’s an economical vinyl that prints well. It also seems like our re-do’s have gone down in production because it’s a little thicker than most economy vinyls.”

Dry Erase and Info Boards
FastSigns – Airway in El Paso serves the U.S. military base, Fort Bliss, and in doing so they’re asked to create fairly unusual pieces to support the base’s mission. Dry erase boards are a common request, which the shop fulfills using LexJet Simple Adhesive Vinyl for the background graphic, laminated with LexJet Dry Erasable Gloss Laminate (2 Mil).

Sign Printing Vinyl
The change-of-command board printed with a faux wood finish on LexJet Simple Adhesive Vinyl.

“The solution has worked beautifully. The dry erase laminate doesn’t seem to be prone to the same issues as other dry erase laminates, such as having problems with certain marker colors,” explains Russell. “The vast majority of our customers will have us print their dry erase board graphic with the dry erase laminate, which we’ll mount to a piece of Dibond or similar material, and they end up with a relatively inexpensive dry erase board. We do a nice little rounded corner, put a couple of holes in it or put hardware on the back for them to hang it, or however they want it.”

Similarly, the FastSigns staff printed a change-of-command board with a wood grain texture to mimic the look of the old homemade boards made out of plywood. The old ones were, well, old, plus very heavy to move from place to place.

Vinyl graphics for signs
A combination of cut-out graphics and photos printed on LexJet Simple Adhesive Vinyl with dimensional Gemini lettering. FastSigns – Airway in El Paso also has a number of A-frame signs printed with Simple Adhesive Vinyl used at checkpoints in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I found a decent photograph of wood grain, printed the wood grain pattern for the background, and made a banner across the top out of Ultra Board with dimensional lettering and they were ecstatic. The fact that the vinyl provides some texture when printed on the flatbed is incredible. They were blown away because one guy can carry around this 4×8 piece,” says Russell.

Cut-Outs and Construction Barriers
Though FastSigns – Airway in El Paso does not have CNC equipment, they do a lot of die-cut signage with woodworking equipment. Russell says he likes LexJet Simple Adhesive Vinyl for these projects because it doesn’t tear when they cut it or peel it up.

Moreover, Russell says the vinyl works well with the flatbed printer. Though they could obviously print directly to the board (and they do), on flat sign projects that use larger pieces of board, Russell prefers to print to the vinyl. If there’s a misprint, it’s a lot easier and less expensive to re-print a piece of vinyl than it is a board.

“The heat doesn’t impact the vinyl, the ink bonds well with it, and the signs look great. The fact that it’s not super-shiny gives the pictures and logos they use a great finish: a real nice textured, almost painted look. It’s thick, so when someone bumps into it they won’t ruin it. It’s not a delicate vinyl, whereas other thinner vinyls aren’t as durable,” says Russell. “We have certain methods to be cost-effective, and this is one of them. We do not and cannot sell a cheap product. We have to be competitive on a square foot cost basis, but we can’t sell cheap stuff. We give them the product they need and they don’t have to spend a lot.”

For construction barricades and other similar projects, LexJet Simple Adhesive Vinyl is again the print material of choice. The project pictured here for a medical center was up for one day and consisted of about 14 panels.

Though it was a one-day event, the medical center used the panels for other events. “They used those panels for several years, they took a beating and they still look great,” says Russell.

A UV Boost to Production at the Coors Distribution Center’s Print Shop

Printing signs with a UV curable inkjet printerIn 2011 the Coors Distribution Center (CDC) in Denver printed more than 100,000 signs, plastering the city and the Front Range surrounding Denver with its brand. CDC print shop manager Chuck Black says sign production has increased at least 110 percent and up to 140 percent over the past six years.

Some of that can be attributed to the merging of the Miller and Coors brands, but Black says it all has to do with simple demand.

Inkjet printing point of sale signs“We offer the high quality printing that a lot of our competitors aren’t able to do, so it gives us an edge. We get opportunities to put up signage where not many others can, just because they want that quality,” says Black.

An important component of the quality produced by the CDC’s print shop is keeping up with the latest technology it gets from LexJet. That way the CDC adds versatility to quality, winning on all fronts in Denver’s beer wars.

The print shop recently added CET Color’s X-Press 500H UV Hybrid R-T-R/Flatbed printer as well as a Canon iPF9000S to its lineup, both of which have helped boost production and meet the demand in the field.

Coroplast cut outs printed for special promotions“The new CET UV-curable printer has updated heads and the passes are a lot smoother in the overlap, which means you don’t see the same banding you might usually see in a UV printer. It’s running at medium resolution and it’s running faster than our older UV printer at its lowest resolution, plus it was a lot less expensive than our original UV printer,” says Black.

Since the printer’s a hybrid, it can print directly to flat, rigid materials like Coroplast as well as roll material like banner stock. Black says the UV inks provide a matte finish regardless of whether the print surface is gloss, matte or luster, so when something needs the pop of gloss to make it shine indoors, the Canon printer takes over.

Printing banners with an inkjet printerThe added speed and quality of the two printers allows the CDC to offer its accounts a wider range of signs, including creative Coroplast cut-outs (pictured) for special promotions. Also, and most importantly, the CDC’s beverage brands are front and center, dominating the point of sale in its market.

“The newer technology, with both the CET UV printer and the Canon, helps us win advertising space. When our reps put out our signs they really impress the owners of the businesses we serve,” adds Black.