Best printer?
September 20, 2006 9:36 AM   Subscribe

My wife is starting her own business. She's making custom illustrations for children's nurseries. She's looking for recomendations on a printer that can produce archival level prints so she can keep the originals (we started off wondering about giclee but it seems way to expensive). The final product should feel like a professional print when framed and needs to last. Also, an thoughts on a scanner to be used in concert with the printer?
posted by Shanachie to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Fujix Pictrography printers are expensive but IMHO give better results than the very best inkjet or dye-sub.

Pictro's print onto transparent, matte or glossy photographic paper. The images do not fade with time, but regular color calibration is important.

If you look into an inkjet, make sure you get a printer with as many inks as possible to get a wide color gamut, and the ability to use UV- and ozone-resistant photographic paper, capable of long-term framing and display.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:57 AM on September 20, 2006

Printing can be a fussy fussy job. As she is starting out, is it possible to work with businesses that specialize in this? In Canada, there is Elevator Digital and in the US is Light Room. The challenge with home printers is that it takes alot of work to get the print to the same quality of these professionals. Also, the cost of ink makes it a bit of a fools game. I think home printing is useful for personal reasons, but if costs is a concern, I would outsource it for your business and focus on what brings home the bacon.
posted by greedo at 10:10 AM on September 20, 2006

I agree with greedo. I would outsource your printing at first unless you want to become a print professional.
posted by spakto at 10:46 AM on September 20, 2006

I would think a Phaser printer or equivalent color laser printer would be the bare minimum for 'archival' quality, and those are $400-2k with supplies costing alot as well. Investing in a great scanner and keeping super-high-res PDFs for any on-demmand printing you want to do seems like a better plan (per greedo).

Good luck!
posted by cowbellemoo at 11:27 AM on September 20, 2006

Large format scanning (IE: Anything better than legal) is really expensive. 11X17 capable units start at around $4K and go up from there. My employer just bought a 36" engineering copier (B&W 400dpi) and it clocked in around C$27K. A similiar unit but lower resolution in colour would be C$36K and up.

As these are just illustrations and you aren't going to be doing hundreds a month you might want to get a copy stand and mount a medium format film camera. Then scan the slides/negatives or if neccesary get them drum scanned.
posted by Mitheral at 4:58 PM on September 20, 2006

What size prints are you looking at? Epson is currently the standard in long-life/archival printing at the consumer level, but Canon is about to introduce a new line of printers that are aimed right at Epson's market. The secret is that they both use pigmented inks instead of the more common and easier to formulate dye-based inks. There are more choices if you want to go the high-end pro route such as the Fuji printers mentioned above, but they can quickly cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. For more info, go to Wilhelm Research as they are generally (although not universally) recognized as the experts on print longevity.

Incidentally, "giclee" is just French for "Inkjet" and may or may not connotate prints made using high-end professional equipment.
posted by TedW at 6:27 PM on September 20, 2006

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