ink vs thermal

signage

New Member
I would like to get some of your opinions on thermal printing vs ink.
Looking into possibly getting an edge and just would like to know.

For printing items less than 24" which one produces a more durable product?
Are the costs of producing a finished product is it that much different?
Is there more supplies for on than the other if so which one has more?
Is one more diversified then the other in producing smaller items?

My local vendor seems to be pushing toward ink even though they sell the edge. He states its cheaper to print but can not or does not want to state which one produces a durable product without laminating. I would greatly appreciate your comments on this
 

Derf

New Member
Go with INK...... Sorry... I just don't feel like writing a book today or I would give you more information...
 

advsign22

New Member
Ask him how much it cost per square foot and then decide. For me I laminate only 25% of what I produce because I only laminate things that need it.

No lamination when it is not needed = more profit from ink printers.

Ken
 

Bobby H

New Member
Thermal resin printing definitely has its advantages...and disadvantages.

Advantages: much longer lasting product. Solid inks retain their color far longer than any method of ink jet printing. A laminated ink jet print receiving any direct sunlight will see its colors fade faster than a thermal resin print with no lamination.

Disadvantages: thermal resin methods don't print photographic content very well. Lots of subtle tones are lost. And then you tend to see lots of dot patterns and such in items like gradient fills in graphics. Printers like the Gerber Edge are best used on logos with flat color. Items with shading, gradients or even raster content have to be printed in mind for longer distance viewing. If viewers will be viewing the item close then you have to go with thermal ink jet methods.
 

iSign

New Member
I don't want to write a book today either... but do a search, many of us have detailed comparison comments in these archives that would fill a book.

best answer, both, because they really are apples & orange anyway.
 

Fred Weiss

Merchant Member
Yes it is apples vs oranges.

The Edge is a totally superior machine for smaller work not just for the inherent durability but also for the spot colors and wide range of printable materials. It handles edge bleeds exceptionally well while many inkjets cannot due to solvent reaction causing curling at the edges. It can print white on clear, transparent colors, metallic colors. In short the creative possibilities are greater.

Having run an Edge for more than seven years now, I can tell you that halftone dots don't bother customers and spending a little time experimenting with halftone patterns and LPI settings will enable you to produce beautiful photographic images and designs with gradients or photoshop effects that will wow customers.

Lamination is a whole other issue and most Edge prints go out with no additional protection. Those that require it, can be over printed with clear UV/Abrasion Guard saving the laminating step altogether.

Full cut 3 panel Edge printed photo image

Two spot colors on vehicle window

CMYK solids on vehicle

You can see lots of Edge work in the Photo Gallery here by going to the gallery and running a search of Edge as your keyword.

It has distinct disadvantages in that it is

  • Higher material costs
  • Limited size before panelling is required
  • Slower production speed
  • Lower print resolution
Inkjets have the inherent advantage where high resolution and larger sizes come into play and durability is secondary. They are color mixing printers ... 4 color 6 color etc and get you very quickly into color management. Complaints are widespread about not handling good solid colors like a nice looking red for example.

Laminating inkjet prints sounds great on surface but the effectiveness is greatly reduced when you see the bond between the image and the vinyl fail and the lamination peels up taking the image with it.

No one size fits all with either technology. Inkjets are a perfect match for banners and large prints of all types. Thermal is ideal for smaller sizes and, using spot colors, getting the color you expect without color management.
 

Bobby H

New Member
Most of the problems I see in lamination of ink jet prints from solvent based printers is the lamination being applied way too early. If the print isn't allowed to cure for at least 12 to 24 hours its outgassing can break down the laminate.

Basically it's the same kind of principal as putting graphics on a newly painted vehicle -but without the month long wait.
 

David Snider

New Member
We have been running an Edge for 10 plus years and last year added a Mimaki.

We love the Mimaki but under no circumstances would we ever get rid of our Edge which is a bullet-proof money making machine.

As others have said, there is a place for both, but decide what you want to use the machine to accomplish, then make the choice. Eventually you will probably find that there is a market for both.
 

Arlo Kalon 2.0

New Member
Bobby H said:
Basically it's the same kind of principal as putting graphics on a newly painted vehicle -but without the month long wait.

MONTH LONG??? WOW! I've been doing repairs for years for a customer with a large pickup fleet. I come over to the body shop the day after they're done with it. Never a problem one single time.

And when I worked in the custom paint dept of IronHorse motorcycles, we had the occasional decal to apply, and it went on right after the tank was out of the buffing process to finesse the clear coat. Geez, in a month most customers would've forgotten all about the whole deal by then.
 

Fred Weiss

Merchant Member
TVG said:
Fred - Does the same equate to say the Summa DC3 vs. Ink jet of same sizing?

No Will because the DC-3 has only a few spot colors, prints on a very limited group of films and has only a single source for supplies.
 

Bobby H

New Member
A DAVE 800 said:
MONTH LONG??? WOW! I've been doing repairs for years for a customer with a large pickup fleet. I come over to the body shop the day after they're done with it. Never a problem one single time.
What kind of paint job are they applying on those trucks? It sure could not be any standard basecoat-clearcoat paint job.

It is a fact you absolutely must allow most automotive finishes, especially basecoat-clearcoat, to cure for at least 30 days. I have personally seen what happens when that cure time is not observed. Even the best high performance vinyls will have their adhesive ruined by the outgassing. The graphics literally start falling off the vehicle.

We use different types of paints on our sign cabinets, such as Lacryl Series Mark I. But that's a much different paint system from automotive paints.
 

jeph4e

New Member
What's your time worth...

This one of those things that I hear about all the time.

People complain about the maintenance of an inkjet, but love the cost per square foot.
I hear about the lack of color consistency, but love the cost per square foot.
I hear about the inability to print white, but love the cost per square foot.
I hear about the width advantages, and I ask how often they print those wide jobs (vehicle wraps being the exception).

Etc....


Each is a tool that is best used for certain applications. Which markets you are going after, should determine which tool to use. Inkjet favors some, thermal favors others.


If you don’t value your time (or your employee’s time) than it really doesn’t matter. If you have labor worked into your expenses (I mean ALL the labor including maintenance, color correction. etc). You might just find that your real cost per square foot is a wee bit different than what you think it is.



We’re a dealer of Matan and Gerber so I’m obviously biased. But we sell these because we believe in them...
Also, the thing to understand that if you get a Gerber, you’ll need to learn the Omega software to get the most out of it. You can import Illustrator files, but the true power of the Gerber system is that Omega isn’t a RIP. It is a design app.

Either way we sell Convex for both thermal and inkjet :smile:


v/r

Jeff


Jeff Duran
Marketing Director
Graphic Marking Systems
28457 N. Ballard Dr. Suite A1
Lake Forest, IL 60045

www.graphicms.com / ConvexVinyl.com
847-582-9276x18 800-232-8018x18 FX 888-232-8019
 

Mike Paul

Super Active Member
I was planning on selling my Edge 2 after I bought my solvent Inkjet printer but I've recently decided to keep it.
Thermal transfer really comes in handy when you need to print a spot color outline or shade on metallic or reflective films. You can also get more vibrant colors in many situations compared to inkjets.

If I was to buy a new Thermal printer I would definitely take a look at the Summa. They may not offer as many substrates to print on but I only print on vinyl. The larger print area is definitely a plus and built in contour cutting is a great asset to that machine.

If I remember correctly when you need a new printhead they ship it directly to you and it's a self install at around $1,000.

I recently had my printhead replace at Gerber and it cost apx. $2,900. after shipping and insurance.

Keep in mind a Summa printhead is 1/3 the size so it's working much harder.
 

Fred Weiss

Merchant Member
But Mike, the very things you point out as to why you would keep your Edge II cannot be done on a Summa DC-3. Reflectives are too thick and metallics are not available.
 

Mike Paul

Super Active Member
Interesting. I was not aware of that.
I remember the one thing I didn't like about the Summa was the fact that you couldn't load different size vinyl. Seems kinda silly since it's a friction fed machine. That would be a nice option for a future model.
 

srt10x3

New Member
Fred Weiss said:
But Mike, the very things you point out as to why you would keep your Edge II cannot be done on a Summa DC-3. Reflectives are too thick and metallics are not available.

Pardon the newbie question. What is the Edge II?

Craig
 

Fred Weiss

Merchant Member
srt10x3 said:
Pardon the newbie question. What is the Edge II?

Craig

It was the second generation of thermal resin vinyl printers manufactured by Gerber Scientific Products. Between the Edge, Edge II and Edge FX, there are probably more than 20,000 units in use in the sign and related industries. They print CMYK, more than 70 spot colors, and 1,000's of Spectratone spot colors on a wide range of vinyls, other films, and thin plastics.
 

Spot Color

New Member
I own both an Edge2 & the Mimaki JV3. The E2 spends a lot more time idle now but I have no plans to get rid of it. It's got some limits but what ain't.

BTW, I know there are fans of Omega software out there but It's a pretty poor design app. IMHO.
 
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