Film Output: How Big Did You Say You Wanted That?

When you are running a small screen printing shop, it is often difficult to keep up with the demands of your customers. The same goes for anyone just starting up with a limited budget. Many screen printers start with an 8.5 x 11 printer to output their film. Most of the time this letter size will do for business logos and low key corporate wear. But you will eventually be asked to print a design that is bigger than what will fit on an 8.5 x 11 piece of vellum or inkjet film.

For myself, I had been putting off addressing this issue by working around it as much as I could. This meant either outsourcing the film, working with a friend who can print 11 x 17 for me or splicing simple designs together. As you can guess, this adds extra work and labor time to each “oversized” project. Ultimately to build an efficient and profitable business, you will need to output film in house at any time. This is a great advantage especially in the ability to modify film and burn new screens as needed.

Since I definitely can’t afford an imagesetter, I had to investigate inkjet printers. My budget is limited as my company is still small and growing very slowly during these sketchy economic times. So I shopped around online and stumbled on the Epson Stylus 1400.  This 13 x 19 inch printer has some pretty good reviews and over all has a lot of positive feedback. The 1400 is a full color printer aimed at novice to semi professional photographers wanting high quality oversized prints. The best price I found was an instant rebate from PC Connection. Originally it was $194 with free shipping. Now it is $209.95 with free shipping until the end of August 09. So I was lucky to get it at $194 because it seems to vary quite a bit even above $300.00. This was the best online price I could find. I would check with PC Connection to see what they are asking for it. Be aware, they are backordered about 2 weeks.

The ink cartridges are $18.99 directly through Epson. However, there may be other options for that as well. I know I have a local company that sells just computer printer inks and toners. They often have a price a bit lower than the average retail list price. This printer is also supported by AccuRIP software. This will allow the densest film output and allow you to convert the printer to all black ink.

I am hoping to use the free RIP software Quad Tone Rip or QTR. I am not sure if or how it will configure to the 1400 but it seems like I should be able to get it to work. I’ll keep you updated on this project when the printer arrives.

Thanks for reading!

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