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Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

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Old August 12th, 2019 Aug 12, 2019 2:15:14 AM -   #1 (permalink)
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Default Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

For sublimation I am currently using two Epson 1500w's ( 1430 artisan), with a pair of older 1400's as back-up when busy. The 1400's are nearing the end of their useful life.

Core use ( for sublimation) is mid/higher volume production runs for fun runs and similar events. On an A3+ (13 x 19) sheet I get either 1 or 2 prints. With two prints per sheet at best quality the two 1500w's can just about keep up with my pressing speed - usually with an hours 'head start'. When getting one print per sheet I need to put one or both of the 1400's into operation to keep up.



I like the print quality and reliability of the Epsons, and having one or two prints per sheet is a convenient size to work with. Three desktop printers have a similar footprint to one wide format printer.



Should I consider a wide format sublimation printer (42" or larger) or carry on with or increase the number of desktops? When the 1500w's were £200 each the answer was simple. Now that the two 1400's need replacing, and maybe added to, the answer is less clear. The 1500w has been 'transformed' into two eco tank models - the ET14000 ( 4 colour) and the L1800 ( 6 colour) - both at £500 - £600. Three of those is half way to the price of a cheaper wide format (although cost isn't the deciding factor).



If anyone on the forum with experience with can help me answer the following questions I will be very grateful.



  1. Is there any benefit to going for a wide format sublimation printer?
  2. Most seem to be 4 colour. Is print quality much better?
  3. Will the speed be faster at the same quality?
  4. How time consuming is it to cut a wide format print down to individual transfers?
  5. Are there significant cost savings in paper and ink by going wide?
Sorry for the length of the post, and thanks in advance.
 
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Old August 12th, 2019 Aug 12, 2019 6:20:37 PM -   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

I can't help you out from an experience point of view on this, but have you considered buying the EcoTank and selling the ink? The ink included in the box accounts for the higher price point, and is of no use to you anyway.
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Old August 12th, 2019 Aug 12, 2019 6:30:15 PM -   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

Wide format would be something like a 30" or larger machine. I personally wouldn't do that unless I was doing print/cut/sew. For the others the lager format gives you the ability to do larger images but you don't have to. Like a heat press, I would always get the biggest one I could afford. It just gives you that opportunity.
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Old August 13th, 2019 Aug 13, 2019 3:05:27 AM -   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by binki
Wide format would be something like a 30" or larger machine. I personally wouldn't do that unless I was doing print/cut/sew. For the others the lager format gives you the ability to do larger images but you don't have to. Like a heat press, I would always get the biggest one I could afford. It just gives you that opportunity.
Sort of mirroring my own thoughts.
I am making a volume product, so the customers aren't interested in paying for an all over print. 13 x 19 is large enough - I am selling mainly to running clubs so the size scale is smaller than usual. (330 mens shirts to print this week and only 18 are XL, the rest are small - large).


The 4 desktop printers can more than handle the volume and quality I need, just checking I am not overlooking something that wide format can offer.
Even at £500 each the Epson eco tanks are sort of 'disposable'. I can't see any obvious reason to spend £5k - £8k on a 42" Epson or Mimaki unless the print quality is vastly better.
 
Old August 13th, 2019 Aug 13, 2019 8:18:54 AM -   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

Having to cut/trim 44" paper would be a pain and time consuming. The one thing that caught my attention was your comment "I can't see any obvious reason to spend £5k - £8k on a 42" Epson or Mimaki unless the print quality is vastly better."

If you look at your finished product and believe there may be something out there that has vastly better print quality then you may have issues with your set up. If everything is correct you should not be thinking there may be something out there that prints a lot better quality.


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Old August 13th, 2019 Aug 13, 2019 11:50:35 AM -   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PatWibble
The 4 desktop printers can more than handle the volume and quality I need, just checking I am not overlooking something that wide format can offer.
Even at £500 each the Epson eco tanks are sort of 'disposable'. I can't see any obvious reason to spend £5k - £8k on a 42" Epson or Mimaki unless the print quality is vastly better.
Even if the large formats were to print at a better quality, I highly doubt that you would be able to distinguish the difference on fabric/apparel. Hard substrates like Aluminum "maybe", but not fabric/apparel.

So if you're not wanting to make larger items and get a larger heat press to match its size, then stick with desktops. At least if one goes down, you can still print with the other three and the cost to replace it with another desktop is justifiable, even if they only last a few years.

I have one 1400 that has been running strong since 2012 "knocks on wood" and one 1430 for a few years and the output speed keeps up with my needs. If I needed more prints in a shorter period of time, best believe I'm getting a third desktop (currently the XP-15000 or P600) to add.

Last edited by WalkingZombie; August 13th, 2019 at 02:20 PM..
 
Old August 14th, 2019 Aug 14, 2019 1:07:34 AM -   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

Thanks for the replies guys.



The more I look into this the more I think I should stay with desktops.

Print resolution on the 1500w/1430 is higher than the wide format. Although they are slow, four printers produce only about 20% less than a 44" Mimaki printing at best quality, with no need to cut into individual transfers.


I don't know enough about wide format sublimation to evaluate the effect of droping print quality to gain speed, but some of the retail or custom made sportswear I have seen is pretty poor. Colours are not as good as I am getting and blacks are not vibrant, which I am assuming is down to the producer sacrificing quality for speed. (any insight into this would be helpfull).
Does roll fed media lay flat when cut into smaller transfers?


The reason I am asking all this is that I have been approached by a company that organises larger events, and I would need to increase my output significantly to feed two people pressing. One thing on my side is that artwork is finalised well in advance so I could stick with desktops and start printing transfers a few days in advance.
 
Old August 14th, 2019 Aug 14, 2019 8:47:41 AM -   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

First he speed of any printer regardless of size is regulated by what print settings, bi/uni directional, resolution, etc. A wide format is typically going to blow away a desk top in speed.

Second, a printer is simply a device to lay down ink. The print quality, colors, etc have very little to do with the printer and much more to do about the inks, profiles, etc. Poor colors have little to do with speed and much more about inks/profiles. If you are printing at the highest quality settings and printing on fabric you are wasting time and ink.

Typically roll paper will lay completely flat with may the last 10% having some curl but that would depend on the paper weight. 100Gram paper typically always lays flat. Lighter paper may have a bit of curl.

The last consideration is ink, cost and quality. Wide format opens up a lot of doors for ink and furthermore paired with a RIP can drastically reduce ink cost and ink output. The goal is not to lay down as much ink as possible but in fact the opposite. With a RIP you can control the ink much better. Cost savings on ink alone could be significant on a wide format if you have the volume/ink usage to support such.
 
Old August 14th, 2019 Aug 14, 2019 1:35:15 PM -   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

For us - say on the 44" wide printer, we can print 12 mug transfers across the paper width, and then the printer cuts off at the correct length of paper - so the only cutting the staff need to do is between each mug - so 11 vertical cuts for 12 mugs, with very little paper wastage.
Although we do do larger textile printing for interiors/soft furnishings products for our own brand (as well as others) no one has ever claimed our print quality is not good enough, infact an upholsterer we've recently printed for compared our print quality on a par with Designer's Guild fabrics.
Previous to moving to Epson Stylus Pro models, we were using an Epson 1400, and the difference in quality in stepping up from a home/consumer printer to a pro level printer was amazing, not just in the quality and speed of print, but how much better the build quality of the printers were, and how much more reliable they were... initially this was moving from the 6 colour 1400 to the 4 colour Stylus Pro 4400, and even then the step up in print quality was remarkable, and then even more so, when we moved to the 7600 and subsequently the 9600 Stylus Pros, that there's no way we would go back to domestic printers or equally back to only CMYK 4 colour models.
 
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Old 4 Weeks Ago Aug 14, 2019 11:57:28 PM -   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

Thanks Tim for putting another perspective on things ( although it has put me back to square one).

At two prints per A3+ sheet desk tops are adequate, but I am getting asked for more 12 x 15 outsize prints which halves production speeds.
 
Old 4 Weeks Ago Aug 15, 2019 12:31:14 AM -   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Signature Series
If you are printing at the highest quality settings and printing on fabric you are wasting time and ink.

Print quality is still important. The smooth finish filament polyester shirts ( Gildan 46000, TriDri tr10) hold a lot more detail than brushed polyester, but also need a lot of ink to get good coverage quickly enough to avoid over pressing. Textured polyester holds less detail but still needs a lot of ink.
In the strictest sense I am probably appearing to lay down too much ink, but my own trial and error says that is not the case. Best quality at 40 seconds/205c is proving the optimum time and temperature to produce the best colours for the fabric,paper and ink am using. Droping the print quality on the epson desktops produce noticably inferior results.


Having said that I have recently tested a garment paper ( Ink Experts Subli fabric) that appearsto work incredibly well using epson plain paper setting. I am going to test this properly with a view to using next year. Print speeds increase four fold, which would make the desktops a no brainer.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago Aug 15, 2019 8:00:29 AM -   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

And there you have it - you have much better control of ink using a wide format with a RIP. If you have to lay day max ink then you have ink/profile issues regardless of the fabric.
 
Old 4 Weeks Ago Aug 15, 2019 11:53:31 PM -   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Signature Series
And there you have it - you have much better control of ink using a wide format with a RIP. If you have to lay day max ink then you have ink/profile issues regardless of the fabric.
Profiles are good. Ink excellant. Colours are spot on, and blacks are ... black. More importantly the finished results are very good.

Am I laying down too much ink? Probably, but then so will most desktop users on the forum be. At a fraction of a penny per print..so what? The difference in ink cost won't make me or break me. The results are worth it.

If I go to a wide format will I invest in a Rip? Of course I will, if the print drivers or rip supplied with the printer are no good.


Although it is only a side issue to my ultimate decision, I understand the importance of a rip, and I thank you for making your point so well.
 
Old 4 Weeks Ago Aug 16, 2019 5:17:18 AM -   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

Just replaced a converted 64" Roland RE-640 with a new Epson F6200 and we are very happy with the decision. We have a 64" x 44" Knight Maxi-Press Air and a 44" wide calendar press, so we didn't need either of the larger sized Epsons (or the larger Roland for that matter) and I can tell you this: the print quality on the Epson is substantially better than the Roland. Better color fidelity, no banding whatsoever, finer detail.

As for wide-format vs. desktop, it depends on what you need but there is no reason NOT to go with the wide-format if you can afford it. Output quality is similar but industrial machines are more durable, more economical (in the long run), more flexible, and you have more control. The Wasatch RIP it comes with is perfectly serviceable as well. And at under $6500, the F6200 an absolute bargain if you're using it for anything more than hobby printing.
 
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Old 4 Weeks Ago Aug 16, 2019 5:46:13 AM -   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wide format vs desktop - pros and cons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by feckman

As for wide-format vs. desktop, it depends on what you need but there is no reason NOT to go with the wide-format if you can afford it. Output quality is similar but industrial machines are more durable, more economical (in the long run), more flexible, and you have more control. The Wasatch RIP it comes with is perfectly serviceable as well. And at under $6500, the F6200 an absolute bargain if you're using it for anything more than hobby printing.

Thank-you for the reply.

Do you find any limitations with four colours?


The only reason I have been questioning the print quality vs speed of the wide format printers is down to some of the results I have received when I have outsourced jobs. I sub out a couple of jobs most weeks - either solvent, sublimation or occasionaly cut and sew - and quality generally drops of when best quality is reduced to production speeds.


Won't be used for hobby printing. One of my larger screen print customers is wanting to move over to sublimation, so desktops will be possible but stretched to the limit.
 






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