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Author Topic: Aluminum Printers  (Read 5797 times)
kuau
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« on: October 23, 2012, 06:30:21 PM »
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I am thinking about doing my own Aluminum printing.
Can someone point me in the right direction?
Which type printer is needed and where to buy materials.
Thanks
Steven
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Dan Berg
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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2012, 08:36:44 PM »
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Any inkjet with a straight pass through feed.
My Epson 3880 and 9900 do a great job. Do not forget to set the platen to its widest.
Booksmart Studios and Shades of Paper are several good places for materials.
Do a search here as you will find several dozen threads where this has been covered in depth.
I have a blog on my website with a few entries from several years ago.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2012, 07:59:47 AM »
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Agree with Dan's advice.  Will also add that you can source aluminum much cheaper if you're willing to coat it yourself.  Takes the cost from ~$25 a sheet down to a couple dollars.  It's a fair bit of work to prep the metal for coating with a product such as InkAid but the cost savings may be worth it.

Something else to keep in mind, as well, is that the straight through path on the 38xx/48xx/49xx printers isn't the full 17".  It's only 16".
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neile
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2012, 08:46:58 AM »
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Dan and I did a whole bunch of experimentation with this last year. Here's links to my blog posts talking about my experiences with it:

http://www.danecreek.com/blog/2011/03/12/my-first-aluminum-print.html
http://www.danecreek.com/blog/2011/03/12/second-third-aluminum-print.html
http://www.danecreek.com/blog/2011/03/13/two-more-aluminum-prints.html
http://www.danecreek.com/blog/2011/04/04/more-experiments-with-aluminum.html

I wouldn't bother coating yourself. If you really want to try this just order some of the beautifully pre-coated sheets from either Booksmart Studio or Horizons (http://www.horizonsisg.com/alumajet.html).

As Dan mentions he and I posted several threads here about our experiences as well. If you search for "aluminum print" they should come up.

Neil
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Neil Enns
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Stefan Fiedler
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2012, 10:33:27 AM »
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If you want to do serious anodized aluminium printing you should look at something like this:
http://www.polychromal.nl/en/products/digital-printing/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAZe8mlgVe0

or this:
http://www.stiefelmayer-contento.de/laser/english/digital_printer.html

..... with heated table, special inks etc.

Regards,
Stefan
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2012, 12:08:49 PM »
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I wouldn't bother coating yourself.
Neil

Why not?  Sure, just for experimentation buying pre-coated, while expensive, may be simpler.  But if any type of volume is going to be done then 'rolling your own' makes all the sense in the world. 

I don't have any issues with dust or other debris in the InkAid coating.  Where I have issues, and this will be a problem whether you buy pre-coated metal or do it yourself, is in the overcoat that goes on after the print has set up.  That's where I get the dust specs.  Wet sanding with a very fine grit paper helps some, but not entirely.  I've even tried taking a few sheets to an automotive paint shop to do in their spray booth and still ended up with dust spots.  The baked on coating they use is pretty spiffy though.
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kuau
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« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2012, 12:39:23 PM »
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I spoke with Booksmart Studios earlier today and they were telling me the printer of choice is the discontinued Epson 7880, they also went on to say that there is a problem with the 7900/7890 printers have some issue when loading aluminum sheets.
Any thoughts on this?

Steven
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Sinar arTec, Leaf Aptus II 7 AFI, 35, 70, 135mm Sinaron lenses,  HP Z3200 PS Printer
RFPhotography
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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2012, 03:40:28 PM »
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I spoke with Booksmart Studios earlier today and they were telling me the printer of choice is the discontinued Epson 7880, they also went on to say that there is a problem with the 7900/7890 printers have some issue when loading aluminum sheets.
Any thoughts on this?

Steven

Did you ask them why they said this?  Couldn't be because the larger sheets are priced higher and likely means more profit for them, could it?  No, of course not. 
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kuau
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2012, 05:40:32 PM »
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They said something about the sensor in the 7900/9900 printers when doing manual feed the Aluminum is to shinny or something
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Sinar arTec, Leaf Aptus II 7 AFI, 35, 70, 135mm Sinaron lenses,  HP Z3200 PS Printer
RFPhotography
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2012, 06:33:10 PM »
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No, I meant why the 78xx models were the printer of choice.  I was asking about the part I bolded in the quote.
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BannerB
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2012, 12:26:30 AM »
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As mentioned above, almost any printer with a strait paper feed would work just fine. Always ways around error codes Grin

Coating aluminum is terribly time consuming and will show any flaws obviously. I've tried the booksmart metals too.. I feell the image quality is terrible but im not sure you can get anything better from anywhere else.

I haven't verified this, but I believe the book-smart metals are actually made by a company called " Horizons Incorporated" who calls it "Alumijet"

The best metal prints I have EVER seen where from a Epson 7600 DYE SUB transferred onto just plan aluminum. Amazing Pop, and resolution.
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Brett Banner
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Stephen G
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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2012, 04:40:01 AM »
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I played with a few sheets of the Horisons Alumajet when I found a supplier in my country (South Africa). I use an Epson 9900. Some impressions:

-possible to get nice smooth image quality - using level 5, uni-directional printing.

-colours are rich, but image is somewhat subdued - it's not such a bright medium. difficult to light well, doesn't behave like paper.

-Use the Booksmart Fine Art Metal profile, Premium Luster 260, paper thickness 4, wider platen gap

-Before printing the sheets are incredibly sensitive to scratching - most of the sheets I printed had marks and blemishes visible on inspection after opening the pack. But I received sample sheets that were split off the normal packs so they were handled more than normal, I suppose.

-In loading on a 9900 it's very easy to scratch the sheets. The loading slot is narrow and if the sheet leans forward a bit and the receptive side touches the chassis of the printer you are stuffed.

-you have to help the sheet along with a little downward push when loading, otherwise it won't grab properly.

-once printed the inked surface fingerprints very easily, and takes days to "dry". never really dries properly. extremely sensitive.

-then you have to hand over to someone else to get the sheets laminated, unless you have a spray that works. I tried the Hahnemuhle Fine Art spray (same as premier art print shield, I believe) and got runs that ruined the print.

In all the whole process was too risky and too expensive for me. If you're willing to throw a lot of money at a good stock of sheets you can probably get good at it.
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Dan Berg
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2012, 05:49:01 AM »
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Some very good points from Steve.
Also why I demonstrate the process but do not sell finished metal prints.
I also found too many issues when printing with my 9900.
The weight of the larger sheets really pushes the limits of the vacumn system holding the metal in place.
Easy to scratch. Watch your platen setting or a head strike is going to happen.

Issues with drying and topcoating.
The ink will dry on most prints in several days to a week.
The problem is that prints with alot of black can still be tacky after a month.
I use Clearstar FA 2000 solvent spray as a topcoat.
Unless your print is absolutely dry you may (will) have problems.
I have several metal prints in the gallery(Not for sale) with minimum blacks. All were let dry for a week.
Both prints after about a month exibited crazing or cracking almost like a crackle finish.
Seems like the inks were not dry enough and the introduction of the solvent spray caused the problems.
The 3800/3880 with its front feed is much easier to print with and I find the results much better. Less do overs
Just too many issues and too time consuming to make any money. If your using the Ink Aid receptor coating you can wash off the messed up print,recoat with inkaid and reprint when dry.
If your a business person you can just hear those dollars going down the drain.

The dye sublimation Chromalux panels on the hi-gloss white substrate are beautiful if you have not seen them. The chrome is nice too.
Conde Systems sells everything you need and if you have not seen Brittanys youtube videos they are worth your time.
I am considering a small dye printer and heat press just for demonstrating here at the workshops but the cost is somewhat prohibitive just for that.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2012, 12:21:12 PM by Dan Berg » Logged

RFPhotography
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« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2012, 03:15:45 PM »
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That's interesting, Dan.  I've not had any problems with cracking/crazing with either the Booksmart or my own coated metal. 

The Booksmart profiles were, when I tested them, truly awful.  And I do mean awful.  Unusably awful.  I use the Epson Premium Lustre profile and it works very well.  Colours are rich and vibrant and the images virtually jump off the metal. 

Coating your own really isn't that time consuming.  Prepping the metal takes the longest time.  Coating doesn't take much and the drying time between coats isn't bad.  Not really any different from roll coating canvases after printing. 

I've used a Krylon solvent coating and it works well - taking into consideration the dust issues.  As noted before, I've also taken some to an automotive paint shop to have done and that worked well too - again, taking into account the dust spots.

There are commercial printers that are producing metal prints as well.  Not sure how good those are but I know of a few photographers who are selling them. 
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