View Full Version : Wavy epson 9800 prints
I recently installed a Epson 9800. While I am very pleased with the color, I keep having surface
problems with large prints (ie 36x48 inch). I print on Epson premium luster paper. After printing, I lay a sheet
of tracing paper over the print, and then sandwich the print and the paper flat between two pieces of 40x60 foamcore board for a couple of days to let it cure. The problem is that the print
isn't totally smooth and flat, but it always comes out of that process kind of wavy. The waves appear like repeated ondulations parallel to the printing direction, but do not run the whole width of the paper. They are quite noticeable if you look at the print under an angle. The lightjets of the same size that got didn't suffer
at all from that problem.
Question for those of you who operate a large format Epson printer: is it normal ? Did you notice the same
problem, and if so, how were you able to eliminate it ?
Try NOT sandwiching the print, just let it dry uncovered for at least 12 hours. You can weight the corners to keep it from re-rolling.
Though I am no expert in LF ink printing, I took a course in the fall that touched on this subject a little bit. Maybe you are laying down too much ink and your paper is "wetting out". Are you using "out of the box" profiles or have you created them yourself? Are you using a RIP? Does your profiling process involve creating a "base linearization"?
Jack, do you mean not sandwiching the print at all, or first uncovered before sandwiching it ? I thought that sandwiching with absorbant paper was necessary to prevent outgasing. Dominique, for large prints, I use the Bill Atkinson profiles with the "standard" settings (as opposed to his favored method of laying extra ink).
Rather than tracing paper, try using a paper that has better absorbative qualities like newsprint, the unprinted type used in drawing classes. The idea that the printer is laying down more ink than necessary is good too. Paul
From what I can figure out of your answer you are not using a RIP and calibration hardware to calibrate your workflow. It might be time for you to invest in a real RIP and spectrophotometer. The combination I saw demonstrated at school (RIP by BEST Color - now owned by EFI- with a GretagMacbeth Eye One) used profiling routines that started with a "base linearization" which was a process to find the ink limits for the particular printer, media, ink set combination. And though one can't really control for atmospheric conditions (relative humidity etc), I'm pretty sure these also have an effect on the process. This first step was meant to eliminate oversaturating your print media. This saves you ink, stops your paper from buckling with moisture and helps to define the maximum gamut supported by the paper. The base linearization is used as the foundation upon which to build colour calibration and profiling, performed in subsequent steps.
I know that y0ur work is at a very high level, a hardware calibrated workflow will help you acheive better printed results. The probem is that often times the RIP costs as much as the printer you are trying to control.
Like Jack wrote, I think leaving the print uncovered is the first thing to try. Covering it won't prevent outgassing, that's gonna happen in any event. I think that leaving the print open to the air would speed curing/drying/ending of outgasssing. Thats what I do with mine - I tape the corners to a board and let it hang a while before final trimming. If I was mounting and framing I'd let the print sit out for a few days at least - and I'd feel better if it was a week before it got sealed up.
I'm using Atkinson profiles on Epson Semi Matte and have printed only a little on Luster, but they're both RC papers and seem very similar. And I'm using a 7600 and the first version of Ultrachrome inks, so not exactly the same set-up as you. I've never seen any waving problems on this printer but used to all the time on older models usually using "paper" paper - not RC. The RC part would seem to indicate that over wetting would be less of a problem since the surface is plastic. Anyway I suspect that its a differential in mositure content thats causing the problem and leaving the print open should let it all dry more quickly, evenly and throughly.
The outgassing problem is due to the use of glycols and glycerins in the ink carrier. They act as dispersants to keep the pigment particles from coming together. Think of them as clog prevention.
The problem with the glycols and glycerins is that they evaporate very slowly. Ever see an antifreeze spill on a garage floor? Same stuff. Takes days if not weeks to evaporate, even in the hot days of summer.
To effectively remove the glycols and glycerins from your print, you need two things - heat and air movement. To prove this to yourself, run an experiment. Choose a smallish print to frame, and get your matting and framing ready. Next, print the print on your 9800. When the print comes off, dry the print with a hand-held hair dryer - low heat, high fan. Support the print with your free hand on the back under where you are drying, and wave the dryer slowly back and forth. You'll feel the print heat up when the glycols are gone. Work your way across the print with the hair dryer. When done, immediately put the print in the matting and assemble the frame. Hang it where it gets some direct sun. If you dried the print properly, you won't get any outgassing.
This folk lore that Epson came up with about making print "sandwiches" and leaving prints sitting around for days on end is a mystery for me, and a lot of other people besides. That is, it doesn't seem to work.
There has been quite a lot of discussion of the Epson outgassing problem yahoo EpsonWideFormat group. (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EpsonWideFormat/messages) IIRC you have to join the group to access the archives. The archives are hard to search, but if you look you'll find there was lots of discussion about outgassing and what to do about it there - a year or so back. These discussions apply to the 9800 too - even more so since the k3 inks have even more glycols and glycerins than the UltraChromes.
Waviness of finished prints is not normal, no. It could be from a number of sources. I suspect two right off. First, your "sandwich" technique. Second, the general profile you are using - an ink limit problem.
To determine if it's the first, let a print lay out and "cure" without your sandwich and see if it has the same flatness problems. As to the second, get a custom profile made for your printer/ink/substrate and see if that doesn't improve your gamut, shadow and highlight detail, and ink laydown.
I print using Premium Luster and K3 inks quite often, and can again assure you that the waves you are seeing are not the norm. Two questions:
Have you tried the stock epson profiles (If so what settings)?
What size waves are we talking about? 1 cm, 1 inch?
for drying, I simply weight the corners, and this works perfectly.
>>Jack, do you mean not sandwiching the print at all,<<
Yes. I don't sandwich at all and don't have any wave problems.
My primary surfaced papers are Epson Premium Semimatte, Premium Semi-gloss and IJA's Micro-Ceramic Gloss and I have no issues with any of them. I let my prints dry-down for 48 hours before framing them behind glass or plexi. (I live in a relatively low-humidity are in California and higher humidity areas may require a week of dry-down.) I hinge-mount and matte and have no paper flatness issues either.
FWIW: Bill's standard 1440 DPI profiles are fine and should not generate any excessive ink lay down. However, using Epson's 2880 DPI setting does lay down significantly more ink and may create issues, though I personally only print at 1440 so cannot comment conclusively on this point.
Keith S. Walklet
QT, I am guessing the problem is something else.
The workflow Bill Atkinson uses to generate the profiles is much the same that is outlined by Dominque, so I don't think that ink quantities is the issue. The interleaving method to resolve the outgassing is the same as endorsed by Joe Holmes, and while the alternatives mentioned here might make sense, I think it is likely that the either the problem is related to your local humidity, or that you are seeing the "anti-ditch" in the paper that shows up as you get closer to the end of a roll of paper. Ditches (running parallel to the roll spindle) can be caused by leaving the paper engaged in the platen for extended periods, but I have also had issues with "anti-ditches" where there is a slight bulge, then drop off where the paper wraps around the end cut of the roll. This bulge is more pronounced the closer you get to the end of a roll. So much so, that I have grown accustomed to only using 2/3 to 4/5 of a roll of paper before I delegate the roll to proof-print-only status.
FWIW, I actually did have some rumpling on Lightjets on rare occasions, though since I didn't control the printing process from start to finish, I was difficult to figure out the origin of the problem. In general, with the EPSON, I find the Premium Luster paper base too thin to hinge mount prints larger than 20x24. Even if the prints were to emerge from the printer perfectly flat, they tend to rumple when mounted unless I have them dry mounted (Seal mount). So it may be worth your while to try dry mounting the prints to see if the waviness goes away.
Thanks for the replies so far. About the sandwiching technique, besides Epson, I read about it here from Chris Jordan and Tim, and on the internet from Joseph Holmes. The sheet of paper does change in appearance, so it would appear to be absorbing something. Last night, I did more searching, and found a reference to that Yahoo group from one of Bruce's earlier postings. I saw that there were a number of proponents of the
the moving hot air idea there, and it certainly makes a lot of sense, so that what I'll try next.
I could see that a RIP would change the amount of inks layed out, but I figured it out that if the Epson driver is good enough for Chris Jordan and Bill Atkinson, it's probably OK for me too, since I use only Epson PLU, which seems to be about the most vanila paper. I don't understand how a profile would change the ink amount significantly though. I use 2800 unidirectional, PLP 250, color management off, and all default settings otherwise. The waves are closer to 1 inch than to 1 cm in width.
Keith S. Walklet
"The waves are closer to 1 inch than to 1 cm in width."
How far apart are the waves?
Waves are around 3 to 4 inches apart.
QT: First try printing at 1440 DPI -- you really do not need 2880 as you will not see a significant difference in the final output between it and 1440, 1440 prints a *lot* faster and 2880 does indeed lay down more ink.
Keith: OT -- but are you by any chance the same Keith Walklet that used to work in Yosemite?
If you are, I am the same Jack Flesher that gave you a ride out of that forest fire about 20 years ago ;)
Keith S. Walklet
QT, three inches is too close together for any of the problems I've encountered that were mechanical in nature. At minimum, the "anti-ditches" are typically about eight inches apart and about an inch wide, and run the full width of the paper.
And, I've not had anywhere near the problems I've heard of with outgassing, which I can only attribute to the high desert climate I inhabit unlike my cohorts on the coast of California. It pains me to suggest alternatives that cost extra to resolve the problem, but if the hot air technique or reduced ink levels don't work, the price (locally) of Seal-mounting is a small percentage of the typical print sale price.
Jack, as for the 1440 vs. 2880 dpi, I'd actually been told that there is a visible difference in quality with the 9800 series printers, whereas with the 9600 it didn't make any difference, and took twice as long to print, to boot.
And you are correct. That must have been the ride from June Lake to Tuolumne to regain your car when the park closed? If so, that was August of 1990. I was just looking at the pix from that backpack trip this week. We'd hiked out Lyell Canyon up over Donahue Pass to Marie Lakes when the storm that started those fires started. Looked like an atomic bomb had gone off the next morning. Small world, especially when Yosemite it involved. Annette and I are still grateful for the lift!
Keith: I thought it was earlier than 1990, more like 1987? But then I'm old LOL! I don't remember exactly which fire it was or where I picked the two of you up, but I did drop you off in Tuolumne town ;) I probably would have been driving a dark blue Suburban then -- and it was a 1987 year model.
Tell Annette you paid me back when that same Suburban broke down in Yosemite one winter about 4 years later -- The Lodge and village were fully booked and they were going to kick me out in the snow cause my time was up. You made a call and scored me a room for the extra few days it took the garage to fix my car ;) Talk about Karmic pay-backs LOL!
Good point on the new inks. There clearly was no visible difference on my 9600. I only tried 2880 one time on a 4800 when it first came out and personally saw little gain there as well. I'll try 2880 on my 7800 and report back on any differences.
Keith S. Walklet
Too funny! Yup, blue Suburban, you and your sister, though I had forgotten about the room extension those years later. Since we spent the majority of our adult lives working in the park, we tend to keep track of time in relation to major happenings there, such as the fires of 1990, the concession changeover in 1993, the floods of 1996 and 1997.
And, of course, it is hard to forget acts of kindness when you crawl out of the woods through clouds of smoke.
Hope you are well and I'm glad to see you part of this community.
With regards to mechanical problems, I am quite close to the beginning of the roll, having used less than 30 feet. I examined the raw paper before printing, but putting the 60x40 board against the printer at a 45 degrees angle, and then rolling out the paper over the printer and onto the board. The result is that the paper itself just doen't appear perfectly flat to my eyes. There are already a couple of waves parallel to the axis of the roll, as well as other ondulations perpendicular to it. Is it normal ? I would tend to think that if the paper isn't flat before printing, why should it be flat after printing ?
Keith S. Walklet
QT, You've got me on that one. I've personally not had any rolls with flat spots (due to packaging/shipping problems) but it wouldn't surprise me to hear that they can happen, especially given how sensitive the paper is to the bulge created by the end of the paper where it attaches to the core. An examination of the box and the bubble wrap the paper came in might help to reveal if it was mishandled in shipping. A sudden cargo shift could have sent another crate careening into your roll. Given how little protective packaging the rolls of paper utilize, it is remarkable that damage is not more common.
I have had some rolls show up with visible damage to the shipping container, and I called the supplier before I would accept shipment to ensure that they didn't think it was my problem, but as it turns out, there wasn't any damage to the actual paper . I've also had cut sheets of paper samples that were dinged by mishandling during the packaging and shipping. That particular incident was not with an Epson brand paper, however.
A far more common problem that I've encountered is oversize sheet paper damaged in shipping. (I just noted the same thing on some prints I saw at a friends house recently). All it takes is for someone to put something heavy on the box. A dent can easily run through the entire 25-sheet stack of textured fine art paper, and when put through the printer, it will show up as a printing abberation since the dent alters the reflectance of the paper surface.
QT: What you describe does sound odd. When I strip paper off a roll it will have gentle undulations parallel to the roll as you unfurl it, but nothing perpendicular... It almost sounds like the roll may have gotten wet -- or at least damp -- somewhere in its life, probably before it got to you.
I would not waste any more ink on that roll, return it and try a new one.
Waves aside, I am surprised that someone else's profile is good enough for QT.
Considering that a good profile can be had for around $100, it's a wise investment, and much cheaper and faster than getting your own spectrophotometer, especially if you use only a single combination of paper and ink.
Compared to the "consumables" (especially for a large printer like the 9800), the expense of a profile is really trivial.
Interesting, and I am glad to read QT's description of this problem. I have also noticed annoying waves on Epson enhanced matte paper printed on my 2200. The waves are about an inch an a half between crests. They are noticable on dark portions of prints under oblique artificial light. My waves run parallel to the long dimensions of the precut 13x19 that I use, which is perpendicular to the feed direction of my printer. I am using Epson profiles. I generally allow my prints to dry on a flat surface for 24 hours after printing.
The problem has always seemed to me a problem with the paper and I have wondered about whether or not it could be fixed by using a heavier paper.
After my post i was thinking that it would be worthwhile to experiment with running my paper through the printer in 2 perpendicular directions to see if this affects the directions that the waves run. Has anyone else tried this?
FWIW on the 1440 vs 2880 issue above:
I just printed a target print using both settings. It does take about 2x as long for the 2880 to print out and it definitely uses more ink. After letting them dry down I could see no appreciable difference. In fact, I even tried mixing them up and could not pick which was which with any regularity.
I am using my own cutom-made profiles which I found to be superior to the (quite good) canned profiles provided by Eposn, so perhaps it is more of a profile issue than anything else.
All offered FWIW only,
Jack, are the "gentle ondulations" that you mention noticeable in the final print too ? Could it be that they are the same as the "ditches" mentionned by Keith ?
As for profiles, keep in mind that I installed the printer recently, so I am not done experimenting.
However, my understanding is that the large Epsons have a close-loop feedback and an individual calibration chip that makes the output of two different samples very, very close (unlike most other printers). I read that on the 9600 Bill Atkinson did a considerable amount of work to build his profiles, and in many cases you would get superior results by using them on your own printer rather than getting a specific profile (made with less sophisticated methods) for your printer. It could well be that the situation has changed for the 9800.
The 7800/9800 printers are all "linearized" at the factory. I understand this means is they all are calibrated to some standard on some paper, and thus all of them will be very close in overall output.
In my case, when I first got my printer, I printed my standard test print using the canned Epson profile. In short, I felt it was excellent as-is and that probably my own profile would not be any better. But since I already owned the tool, I figured WTH and went ahead and built my own profile. Bottom line is there was a slight, but visible, improvement with mine. It was most notable in the neutrality of grays -- and of course any non-neutrality affects the other tones too. Whether or not it was a critical difference in the typical landscape shot would be debatable.
As a further example of how good this new K3 printer using my own profile is, I can print my B&W images using PS's direct color-management with it and the prints are every bit as neutral as the Epson direct B&W driver produces! But the added benefit is since I am printing color-managed directly from PS, I can soft-proof and get more accurate tonality from screen to paper than the Epson B&W driver can provide. I can even add cool or warm toning and get an accurate preview of the final image.
Regarding the undulations. As I said earlier, I hinge mount, so the print is not held firmly against the mounting board anywhere inside the matte. I am currently not printing larger than 24x36, but at that size once the glass is over the print, you can only see a slight "bulge" in the center relative to the edge at the matte if you hold the framed print at an extreme angle to a light source. Once hung on the wall and viewed at normal viewing angles it is not noticeable at all and looks flat. FWIW, I printed up to 36x54 out of my 9600 and still hinge-mounted Epson Premium Luster without issues. Frankly, the bigger issue I had with the 36" wide prints was not kinking them (creating the little half-moon buckles) when handling the final -- at that size, the thinner roll papers kink easily.
Keith S. Walklet
QT, Bill's approach has become more sophisticated than what he used to generate the Lightjet, and later Epson profiles. He changed in response to different profiling software/hardware combinations now available. In short, he found that none of the device/software combinations is perfect and he hopes that by demonstrating the shortcomings of each, through competitive market forces, he may be able to encourage the manufacturers to improve their software. He now offers a "boquet" of profiling alternatives to choose from, leaving it to the end-user to decide which manufacturer's profile/paper combination they prefer. While not as readily apparent in the final output if you don't know what to look for, the differences/irregularities in the results clearly show up in the color targets he generates to measure and create the profiles. Very eye-opening.
Jack, I am curious if the supposed difference in the 2880 vs. 1440 print quality on the 7800/9800 series is image dependent. I never did get a chance to observe the difference myself, but I trust the keen eye of my source and their desire not to make life more complicated than it need be. ;-)
Also, in response to your print handling challenges, perhaps you are already aware, if you pick up a print by diagonally opposite corners, you'll greatly reduce he chance of kinking.
Keith: My test image is a compilation of several types of images including skin-tones and B&W as well as hue, saturation and tonal gradients. If there was a difference to be seen, I am confident I would have seen it. I suspect it might be likely that your source's particular profiles were better suited to 2880 output on his machine than they were to 1440...
As for grabbing opposite corners of the print, a 36" x 54" print is about 65" on the diagonal... I can probably make that with my arms, but it's still a goodly reach ;)
Keith S. Walklet
Jack, Well then, I'll bite my tongue on the 1440/2880 quality difference until I see it myself.
And while I envision a Charlie Chaplinesque short film opportunity of you dancing around trying to pick up your print, the trick, in the end, is to just grasp one corner and move towards the diagonally opposite one. If done carefully, the paper will "roll" with you. When you can reach the second corner, grasp it and lift the print. I then carry the print to my work table, let the sagging portion just touch the work surface, and then release both corners silmultaneously so that that they spread across the table. I trim out the print with a hand-held rotary cutter (OLFA RTY-3/DX http://www.store.yahoo.com/olfablades/9655.html) without lifting it. I just spin it in place on my work table, which has a work surface made from a 4 x 8 sheet of SINTRA high density foam ($30 wholesale). The SINTRA works beautifully with the rotary cutter, though is a little soft for use with an X-Acto or straight razor blade.
Since I have my oversize prints dry mounted, I roll them up to take to the lab. This is done with craft paper and an old 44" Epson paper tube. One end of the craft paper is attached to the tube with tape. I unroll and spread the craft paper out on the work table and then slide the print onto the craft paper. The print gets rolled up around the tube as I roll up the craft paper.
Before I dry-mounted the big ones, my workflow was slightly different. After trimming out the print, I'd slide the pre-cut mount-board under it, attach the window mat to the board, position and secure the print. That way, I only actually picked up the unsupported print itself once (taking it from the printer to the work table.)
Great tips Keith, especially the Sintra -- I never thought of using that as my table surface!
I avoid lifting the print altogether by having it slide onto a 40x60 piece of foamcore board. The method that Keith describes for taking to the lab is how I ship bare prints.
Keith S. Walklet
>I avoid lifting the print altogether by having it slide onto a 40x60 piece of foamcore board<
The best solution. In my next studio, I hope to have room to do the same.
Try an experiment.
Print two images.
Let one print lay out for a couple days bare and the other use your sandwich technique.
See if the bare one develops waves.
My guess is the bare one will be flat. Also my guess you'll need to let the print dry a day or two before sandwiching for outgassing, as I would think the print coming out of the Epson is too wet and needs to breath a little before suffocation.
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