I thought I’d show everyone what my days often look like as a consultant. For 20 years, I’ve traveled around working with people in their studios on issues like color management, workflow, and print quality. A lot of the time this means working on big printers like these.

HP Latex printers at New Era Publishing
HP Latex printers at New Era Portfolio

In addition to common aqueous inkjet printers, I spend a lot of my time working on UV Curable, Solvent, Latex and sublimation printers from companies like Vutek, HP, Epson, Gandhi, Mimaki, Mutoh, Roland, Inca and others. Last week I visited 3 clients in 3 cities including one of my favorite clients, HPI in Houston, where we worked on several of their printers including the Vutek HS100 Pro. To show you how it works, here’s a short video of it making a 30×40 print of my image Solitude on white aluminum dibond:

UV curable printing on the Vutek HS100Pro on white aluminum dibond

This monster UV Curable machine has 48 4” print heads that cost $3500 each and unusually accurate dot placement, for a UV printer. Even though it can print at incredibly high speeds, we have it in it’s slowest setting here that produces the highest quality. It uses an 8 color UV Curable inkset that can print on just about anything, including metal and glass. The LED Ultraviolet curing lamps you see positioned on each side of the carriage cures, frys and hardens the ink to the substrate before it has a chance to bleed or move. This type of printer was previously used exclusively for outdoor signage because of it’s extreme print durability and lightfastness. The print quality has recently become so good that people are using them to print artwork shown in galleries and museums. I’ve been printing and exhibiting my own artwork on metal from this very printer for the past 2 years.

Here’s another fun printer I calibrated this week – the Evo 33 DS.

Evo 33 DS - 3 meter sublimation printer
Evo 33 DS – 3 meter sublimation printer

It’s a 3 meter wide Vutek printer that Evo modifies and puts their own dye sublimation inks into. It can print directly onto fabric which is then run through a heat sublimation machine to activate and cure the inks. You’ve probably seen big 10-20 foot prints on fabric in an airport lately that is made on a printer like this. The prints have an incredible color gamut, rich blacks and a durable, washable matte finish to them. Heat, timing, and latent image stability are some of the fun variables that make calibration challenging on this printer.

Dye sublimation print on fabric
Dye sublimation print on fabric

These printers use software RIPs with names like ONYX, EFI, Caldera, Wasatch, Colorburst, Versaworks, and many others. The color science built into these RIPs is often pretty poor, and because I’ve developed a number of techniques for analyzing and calibrating color on these machines, I help my customers get better print quality on their printers than their competitors. The prints we achieve are often better than what the manufacturer has achieved which has lead me to consult with a number of printer and media manufactures to improve their own understanding and quality.

XRite i1Pro2 iO table spectrophotometer
XRite i1Pro2 iO table spectrophotometer

Of course, I’m not just a color management/ print quality geek, I’m also an artist. An endless pursuit for optimal print quality is part of what drives both of these roles. Curiously, my night images contain a lot of dark, delicate shadow details and deep colors that are particularly tricky to reproduce. This has proven to be a good thing and these serve as fun real-world test images.

So that’s what my day job looks like. Lots of hours printing, measuring and analyzing lots of abstract prints with color patches on them, and towards the end of the day, a few really beautiful images.

30x40 UV Curable Print on white aluminum dibond
30×40 UV Curable Print on white aluminum dibond

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