How many of you have wide format printers .....

Studio2bn

True Grumbler
Joined
Jan 11, 2003
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Pensacola Florida
....Firstly....
Merry Christmas & A Very happy New Year...

How many of you guys own and use wide format printers in your business, like the Epson 7800/9800 ? I have beening talking with a lot of Artist and Decorators I have been doing business for... about who is/has been doing their printing for them....It appears that there "Could" be a fair amount of business out there that could "Justify" investing the money in a 7800 or 9800 printer....And keep more of my work with them in-house.....
The key word here is "Justify"....How do you folks who own one of these feel about this type of investment and how do "You" feel about the market now and in the future for this....Has it shown to be good venue of income ? I have a friend who is a good techie for these...but know nothing about the sales end of it or the market for it....
Any input...thoughts...does or don'ts ...Would be very much appreciated...

Thanks for your time and help...
J. Michael
Pensacola.....
 
Might be a good idea to add gas pumps out front so folks can gas up too... or how about a treadmill so customers can exercise and rent it by the minute... Hmmm... a coffee bar on the side and a dance floor. Hey, I know, how about a chain saw and a couple of acres of woodlands so we can make our own moulding...

My point. Mind YOUR business. Framers make frames, printers print. Another option? Start a seperate business.

Bill
 
Printing seems as much of an obvious add on to framing as photo frames. I would suggest that photo copying would be a great place to start.

I would bet you could sell a copy of 90% of the diplomas we frame on the spot. This time of year when people get photos framed to give as gifts you could offer to give them a copy to keep. I would think your success rate at that could be about 40%.

Take a local college course on Photoshop. Get proficient and offer photo restoration. I think this is a growing industry that has yet to see its peak.

It seems to me that few photographers are printing. This baffles me. I would think you could drop a note to each of them that you can print up to 11x14's in one day and do a few of those a week. What a great way to set up a relationship with that group!

Do yourself a favor and drop Warren Tucker an email. He probably has one of the top copy/printing labs in the country. He started out as a framer and still is. However you would be very hard pressed to find another frame shop with his copying/printing capabilities.

Printing is probably in the top 5 areas I intend to get into ASAP.

Carry on.
 
Thanks Guys...Some very different observations on this industry....

From all the research I have done, there are a lot of folks who are realizing certain venues that directly compliment others...

Thanks Jay....apparently we are thinking along the same lines...I have spoke with several Frame shop owners...Photographers/Frame shop owners...that have done some fantastic figures by just adding a printer..Epson 2400 up to the 9800...The world is achangin ...and from what I have seen the ones who recognize an opportunity,like Warren Tucker who could see into the future of this business and take advantage of it....Otherwise, why don't we just carry one type of glass, one color mat, and just one moulding.....
I will be going to look at Epson printers right after the first of the year....

Thanks for the input...and I hope more folks post with their thoughts about growing their businesses....
J.Michael
 
A significant portion of my business is portrait photography and printing using an Epson 9600. Framing was actually an outgrowth of that for me.

A key thing that you need to understand is that printing at this level requires a significant degree of knowledge and skill. If your vision is just to open a file and click "print" then the customers can get that at Kinkos, COSTCO, or any photo kiosk at rates that you can't touch. To take advantage of the tremendous quality that a printer like a 9800 can offer then you'll need to offer a fully color managed workflow, associated adjustment in Photoshop, high end scanning, etc. The reason high end printing is expensive is because of the high level of skill and experience required as well as the high cost of equipment and materials.

My point is just that you should understand that this isn't as simple as buying a printer and hanging up a sign. Be prepared to spend some significant time and money learning to do it right.

Steve
 
I spent a lot of time researching this and ended up with an Epson Pro 4000. The goal was to create demand for framing with exclusive art images.

The 4000's (and now 4800's) 17 x 22 format lends itself well to final frame sizes enjoyed by customers (not too big, not too small). For instance, I tailored the process so I maximize the use of 22 x 28 con clear glass, with most frame sizes 21 x 26 and 22 x 26. Buy quantities of glass on specials, have little waste in moulding sticks, etc.

My background was in graphic art production for over 20 years so I had prior experience related to color management, various papers, profiles, etc. Bottom line: by only reproducing art of my own or that only I publish I increased my custom framing business significantly. That was the goal.

What I did not do was try to be a service bureau printing customer files. Can't see that would make me any money on the framing side once the time babysitting customer files was offset. For those requests, I just say no. Nicely.

Not suggesting this model would work all the time in all places, but it works for me. Challenge going forward is to determine its scalability.
 
"My point is just that you should understand that this isn't as simple as buying a printer and hanging up a sign. Be prepared to spend some significant time and money learning to do it right."

The same could be said of framing. Just because you own a chopper...... Yet photographers by the millions are doing just that.
 
Jay brings up a great referral in Warren. Some folks can take an idea to the next level and Warren has certainly done that. Perhaps he might share the trials and tribulations

We looked very, very closely at adding this option to our stores. Did lots of research, talked to a lot of people that have done really, really well

The one common suggestion was that it requires a very high level of competenceof th eprimary operator to fully take advantage of the tool

We just could not justify (and I think that was th ekey question of this thread) not so much the money, but the time required to do this correctly

And, because of it, have a lot of respect for those that are truly competent with it

This ain't no "point and click" deal.
 
I considered exactly what you are talking about. I spent 10 years working for Eastman Kodak in Color Management and Pre-press applications. I do understand the business. To do it right requires time, and technological understanding. To support Artists youMUST understand WYSIWYG Color, which is probably harder than you think in time and $$. All that being said, I think it is a great extension to the frame business.

Be prepared for Scanning issues (for artists, a high quality color calibrated and corrected drum scanner would be appropriate) Lighting and calibration issues. A good light box and controlled lighting for your monitor and print viewing are a must. Printer calibration issues ... You should understand how to print colro grids and measure for producing profiles ... Without good color control you will be printing (probably at yoru expense) MANY "artist proofs" antill they are happy. A tedious trial and error practice.

Well, this stuff goes on and on. It is ALL completely learnable. It is a profitable business if done properly.

There is a "certification" course offered in Giclee printing at the WCAF. I am not sure what the course entails.

I have opted to "help" a friend setup such a business. He will be doing his own production and providing the service "wholesale" to me and I will be providing a retail outlet.

What I am talking about (artist reproduction) is different than the "Quick Copy" things Jay seems to be referring to. Jay --- get a kiosk like you see in the drug stores. Then you don't have to worry about all the copyright violations you seem to be planning, but you can take your cut of the margin.

Remember, everything takes time and knowledge to be doen right. A photograph once told me framing was just four pieces of wood and some time. Anyone could do it. It was like printing money. And, it was the next thing he was going to add, because it was easy money!
 
Studio2bn
You might consider going to the PMA/PPFA convention & show in Orlando in Feb 2006. A wealth of photo industry info all in one place. Just a thought.
Tim
 
I recently added photo restoration and enlarging in my shop. (done in house)

With it up and running only two weeks I have pulled in or saved about 8 jobs from it.

Just offering what my competitors can't.
 
I have an Epson 9600. In my case, framing came after I was already into printmaking. I bought the printer and a zillion dollars worth of other goodies primarily do produce my own work, but discovered I had a lot more capacity than I needed, so I started doing other artist's work.

A few observations from my experience, if I may:

There is a huge learning curve to undertake if you want to produce good work with the least amount of headaches. In particular paper/ink/finishing/outgassing/waste/maintenance/etc. issues. I would suggest joining a few of the Yahoo groups around for the Print for Pay wide format printing industry.

Time is money: It is very hard to get paid for your real setup time/costs of a fine art piece. Either you invest $30K plus for a scanback/camera/lights setup, or you invest a lot of time flat scanning and color correcting.

This means you either charge accordingly for setup and scare a lot of short hitters away, or you take a chance that they will continue to come back ordering more prints from you. In the latter case, you are in effect gambling on the artist's ability to sell their work in reasonable quantities. Personally, I prefer to gamble on my own abilities, not on someone else's.

Some clients will be very easy to please. Some will never be happy. It sometimes seems to be inversely proportional to the amount they are willing to invest in their own work. The ones that spend the most seem to be the easiest to deal with. Maybe because they have more experience in the business.

The barriers to entry in printmaking have dropped tremendously making it much easier for artists/photographers to do their own printing with a 2400/4800 size of printer. This can shrink your potential printing universe and open the door to "low-ballers" that will undercut you everytime. Yes, they do fail in a fairly short time, but they can hurt you.

Don't expect a lot of work from photographers. They will either stick with wet processing, Kodak LED, or print their own work.

Where you can do reasonably well with one of these printers is in providing very short run poster/indoor signage/photo enlargements/portraits on canvas type of work.

Finally, if you do buy a machine, buy an extended warranty. Servicing these things is VERY expensive!

HTH
 
Like Bob I have given this much consideration. Its my opinion that we can't really compete with the Wallgreens and Walmarts. So I agree that we shouldn't really try to take up our time and wear out equipment out on 400 4x6's for aunt Mae's scrapbook.

I also don't think it's wise to just kick up an art reproduction lab complete with color correction and Cruse scanner.

I think the average frameshop could "justify" the jobs in between. I'm thinking that photographers would pay a premium to get an 11x14 today instead of 3 days via mail. Mrs. Customer would love to copy the sepia of her great grandmother 6 times for each of her grandkids. She also might want the water spot removed from her husbands military discharge papers. She might want the rip repaired when we rip her photo that was stuck to the glass. Certainly Mr.College will want a copy of his diploma before we frame the origional (maybe 2). I'm not talking about $4.99 for an 11x14 like Krogers either.

None of that requires a degree in rocket surgery. The desire to learn and some good equipment could be the start of a really nice add-on.
 
Jay, that makes a lot of sense! Stay away from contemporary photo reproduction unless you have copyright release papers. Photo "correction" with photo shop is a learned skill. I have seen people conplete "repair" a photo that looked distroyed in minutes, and I have seen someone spend hours to botch a simple spot removal.

The photo lab across the street charges by the hour, but usually gets about $50 for an 8 x 10 "repaired reprint." He is fairly experienced and moderately productive with photoshop. Gives you an idea of the time involved.

Make sure you can "afford" the time investment and you get compensated for it because you won't be framing when you're repairing.

Also, the original question mentioned "Artists." That is a whole different kettle of fish. (A smelly one I think?!?) They need the most exacting results and want it for the least money!
 
I second Cliff's statement
Also, the original question mentioned "Artists." That is a whole different kettle of fish. (A smelly one I think?!?) They need the most exacting results and want it for the least money!
Just think of doing framing for artists their demands and willingness to pay.
 
Whats the danger? You mean there is a craft out there that can fetch $50/hour in labor and I'm supposed to be scared of having too much of it? When did business owners become so scared of labor?

If you get covered up, go down to the technical college and get referrals from the guy who teaches photoshop. I'm sure there is any number of students that could educate me on Photoshop that would love to work part time for $10/hour. I'm sure there is a way to lose here someplace but I just don't see it.
 
You're right of course. What a silly idea that something might take more skill, knowledge, or experience than you can get for $10 an hour from the local technical school.
 
I'm not being insulting. Quite the opposite. Wasn't it Bob who says he likes to hire people smarter than him and get out of their way?

I doubt I would ever hire help for this anyway. Not all of us are so fortunate to run like we are right now year around. Those that do, hire help.

Turning away from money because you don't have time is stupid, stupid, stupid. Especially on a labor item.
 
Jay, my friend, you ought to do it. There are those that have done handsomely with this machine. I don't remember if I shared that one of the people that had me most excited was a Photoretailer in Manhattan

He had three of 'em and joked he was printing "money" with them. My part of the exchange was his "resistance" to get deeper into custom framing and was getting my take. He mentioned the "learning curve" and hiring skilled staff and the additional burden of doing something beyond his "core" products. He mentioned that it (framing) represented only 3-4% of his biz even though almost all of the photos he enlarged, were framed. He also had 24ft of Ready Mades and very small "custom dept"

Oh, by the way, that "insignificant" part of his Biz was around $350,000 a year.

I'm certain that as smart as he is and as good an operator he is, he, too, could turn that small part of his biz into something "meaningful"

We all have our natural resistance to those things we don't understand very well
 
I have an Epson 9600 and a Creo flatbed scanner and a Nikon Coolscan 4000 and the original reason for buying the printer was to make my own photos. Thus having my "darkroom" back. The fact that I could print for customers allowed me to write the equipment off as a business expense.

I fully expected to blow away a full set of ink carts, and a roll of paper (around $1,000) learning how it works so I would feel comfortable doing it for customers.

This year, I had a customer come in and when I was done making the prints for him he had paid for the printer. About $5,000. So, if you know how to do stuff in Photoshop, you CAN make money in this. All of the photos I did for him were framed as well.

I have a couple of artists who I print for. I have 4x5 transparencies made of their original, scan the transie on my flatbed and make prints for them. If your equipment is really good and calibrated regularly and properly, you can make money doing this. I have sold printing work by just having the customer look at my photos and then showing them the printer. Usually, that will sell them.

As for repairing photos and such... it's not that hard and then you make prints for them and frame it as well.

Personally, if you are seriously looking for a way to expand your business, this is one way to go. Only someone who is serious about expanding into this field will succeed because of the steep learning curve, and no, you will not recoup your investment in a year. You will make more money and get more framing from the prints you make. Of course all that depends on charging enough.
 
Oh, and no I don't compete with Walgreens or WalMart trying to make 4x6's or even 8x10s. It's seriously not worth my time nor would they pay what I would have to charge.
I charge $25 per sq. ft. for prints and $30 to $50 for loading the image into the computer depending what I have to do. Other charges depending on the individual case. So the 28x42inch prints I made this summer cost around $212 per. Plus scanning charges and such. This might be low in some areas and high in others. It's about all I can charge around here.
 
This is why I Love the Grumble So !!!!!!!

Firstly, Thanks so much to all you guys for your time, help and guidance....As usual you have given me and I am sure lots of others so much insight in how "We" can better our businesses and hopefully increase our incomes.....

I have been fortunate in the fact of having you guys...a friend who has just gone through all of this...someone I just met who is willing to walk me through the process and coach me along the way...and personally knowing the Professor of Graphic Arts/Design at the local College who has now offered his help....I also have a friend, though much younger, he grew up in the video game world, and he is pretty much a Wiz at Photoshop who will hopefully be working with me....
Like Jay, I seem to no longer be afraid of things that could possibly allow me to learn something new and make me more money and I might just have some fun along the way.....
I am a Photographer from the "Old School" and it's time I moved on in to the 21st Century !!!...I have a full studio, lights, color corrected light boxes, product light boxes and have quick access to several 4x5's with scanner backs...And I am getting a Canon 5D for Christmas.....
I have been spending days on end studying Photoshop training videos and learning as quick as I can...I realize that there is a learning curve...I like that part...
All I know is a lot of people I have met have done "Extremely" well by adding this service and NO they don't do what the local Walmarts/Walgreens do..they are sticking to higher in printing and staying verrrrry busy....I know this has potential and I want to do it....
Please....for those of you have been doing this for a while ...Please continue to help those of us who are just starting out...any and all input for equipment and accessories will be very much appreciated....
Thanks to all of you wonderful, Sharing Grumblers......
J. Michael
 
OK, I have read this thread and still can't figure out what is the true purpose of the printer.

- To print what? Photos? From what? (CDs, memory cards?, if yes, then the printer or the PC / card reader should accommodate them, or must be bought as well)

- Who would use the pinter? (Self service? An employee)?

-Does it add an extra level of service and maintenance? (does every one there know how to use it and maintain / troubleshoot it??)

- What is the expected cost / profit from this?

- Is there competition next door/ one block away?

- Who is the competition? A real professional photographer? CVS / Walmart?

- If the professional photographer sends you some of his client already, wouldn't this alienate the relationship? If not, skip.

- What about fixing / modifying the photos? PhotoShop? Does anyone in the store know how to use it? Would that distract from other chores?

- Is it worth the investment in time, resources and money??

PS: If this sounds like systems analysis to some ex-IT guys amongst us, it is.

I guess it boils down to this: If somebody thinks there is a need and a market for it in their shop, and it won't disrupt the usual business flow, go for it.
 
"... what is the true purpose of the printer."

I gave about 5 ideas. I have about 40, 35 I don't really care to share.

All of the rest of the questions are specific to the operators needs. If by answering them, can you plug the responces into some forumla to decide if it will work or not? Does that magic calculator work of other aspects of business? You could market that thing.
 
I was not aware that this printer is able to do photo copying and copying diplomas.

Are we talking about a copier/ printer / scanner or a professional Epson photo printer??

But all means, there is a need in certain situations for copying an original and framing the copy.
 
Golly. You be meanin those thing don't be doin everthing? Well shucks...next yur gonna be telling me I need on of those puters too? For get that stuff.
 
Ok... I went back and reread the original posting. PaulN, what part of the original posting naming the printer in question don't you understand?
He is talking about the large format printers. The operative word here is printer. It does not copy, nor scan. It prints.

The next operative words here are wide format. You can print as small as you want altho the machine has a minumum size of paper it will accept. It is for making large format size prints. People do not use these things for making little 4x6 prints such as the kiosks at Walgreens and Walmart do.

It will print whatever you feed it from your computer. You know(maybe not) you sit at your computer and you open a file from a CD or imported from a scanner or from a CF card out of a digital camera. You then do all kinds of special, magical things to the file and then you magically send it to the printer where it magically creates a print on paper in a large format size.

You do not ever let the customer any where near the machine. They are for printing large high quality prints. How come you haven't a clue as to what everyone in this post is talking about? And if not, why did you even post?
 
Paul-

A wide format print of the ilk that is currently under discussion is a printer, typically using archival, pigmented inks, that is used for large prints (16x20 is probably as small as you'd ever printer on one of these). It's a fairly specialized business, used for making large prints of photographs as well as fine art reproductions on a variety of papers and canvases.

You would need a PC to use this printer; it's not a kiosk-like device in which customers stroll in off the street and insert their CF card and use an on-screen menu to drive the thing. You would have a PC with Photoshop or Qimage, i.e. a color managed application which you'd use to control the printer. You'd also want a calibration device such as a spectrophotometer to help dial in the color response of the unit. It's a sizeable investment above and beyond the cost of the printer itself and consumables. The return is outstanding prints.

You would have an employee or two who were trained to use the printer, and they would be the only ones who went near the thing. While the printer makes fine art prints accessible, the existence of a tool does not imply the existence of the expertise necessary to make full use of the tool.

You certainly can make a business case for such a device, depending on your circumstances. It would seem to be a natural fit for a framing shop, rather like selling prints.

For further information on just what we're talking about, look here or here.

And pay no mind to that crusty down-eastah. He's settling in for that wintah weathah, and that makes one cranky. ;)
 
And pay no mind to that crusty down-eastah. He's settling in for that wintah weathah, and that makes one cranky.


You betcha!!
smileyshot22.gif
 
Originally posted by Paul N:
PS: If this sounds like systems analysis to some ex-IT guys amongst us, it is.

Thanks Paul for bringing up the analysis thought. That is exactly the questions this ex-IT guy has been asking himself. I really want to add an additional 'service' to my business and have been thinking of going the photo restore/printing business.

I will make some serious decisions in January. I think engraving/trophy making is the way I will go. The initial investment is higher for equipment and supplies but the learning curve is much lower and it could be profitable much faster.

Thanks everyone for this great topic!
 
Originally posted by framah:
He is talking about the large format printers. The operative word here is printer. It does not copy, nor scan. It prints.
I really know that. But somebody replied to me and said the things that could be done with such a printer are what you just said can't be done!

That's why I was asking if it is really a printer we're talking about, or an all-in-one thingie.
 
My earlier comments wern't intended to be discouraging.

Check your local market area, but around here the photo labs and small graphic houses are in trouble because the BBs are kicking their butt for most photo printing and the digital technology is putting more and more printing into the consumers hands.

This means the availability of the kind of reproduction and touch up that has been discussed (and can't be easily done at home or by the BBs) may be more scarce and thus a nice add on.
 
I really know that. But somebody replied to me and said the things that could be done with such a printer are what you just said can't be done!

This is a misinterpretation of what was said. It's not <u>the printer</u> which is used for copying. Copying is an input/output operation. The printer does output only. That's why people were talking about scanners, etc, in conjunction with the printer. The printer isn't a point solution; it's an integral part of a system.
 
I feel fairly certain that wide format printing is a natural compliment to framing but I have several caveats. It is more expensive than a casual observer would imagine. There is a substantial learning curve: you need to be familiar with the theory of process color printing; you need a fundamental understanding of color theory; you need to be familiar with Photoshop’s color correction tools and image manipulation tools (Curves, Levels, the selection tools to name a few areas); an understanding of basic color management is essential. Plan on at least 6 months to get ready for reproduction printing. Photo restoration requires another set of skills.

The big problem anyone will encounter with wide format printing is the same problem anyone would encounter with offset lithographic printing: prepress. Anyone who wants to get into printing has to be able to capture an image and correct it so that it prints the colors that should be printed. Digital manipulation and Epson's dominance has made prepress a little easier than it used to be. Epson dominates the printer market because they (Seiko Inc) simply have the best and least expensive printers, currently the 9800, 7800 and 4800 printers. Anyone wanting to get started and has no prepress experience needs to have a relationship with a good prepress house.

Epson has made prepress easier than it has been in that a file printed and proofed on an Epson *600 or *800 series printer will print the same on any color managed *600 or *800 series printer. A printer profile made on a *600 or *800 will work on any other 600 or 800 printer obviating the need to custom profile individual printers (you need a separate profile for each printer/ink/paper combination you use).This consistency is a huge accomplishment. The *800 printers are a little more consistent than the *600 printers; but both represent a consistency that is a fundamental change in the industry.

As to cost in getting started, it’s probably a good deal more than someone unfamiliar with the process would guess. First there is the printer, about $3000 for a 7800 and $6000 for 9800. Photoshop is a bargain at $600. People get by without a RIP but I wouldn’t suggest trying. A RIP (raster image processor) for wide format runs around $2000 without Postscript capability and is worth it (an art printer doesn't need a Postscript RIP because Photoshop can rip EPS and PDF files). A set of inks for the printers is another $500. I’d strongly advise budgeting around $2000 for training.

You’ll need a fairly beefy computer (we use work stations; our printer workstation is a Pentium 4 with 2 gigabytes of memory, a two hard drive level 0 RAID (for very rapid reading and writing in virtual memory) and another 250 gb drive. Good quality image files are huge: a tiff file for a typical image runs around 140mb and the same file ripped runs well over a gigabyte. We have a separate workstation for scanners and a Mac G5 dual processor with 4 gigabytes memory for prepress work. In all, our lab uses 3 Windows workstations (running 2000 Workstation or 2000 pro), a Mac G4 dual processor legacy computer running OS9.*.* , and the Mac G5 (OSX.*.*). All these computers are networked. I think we are pretty standard for both a prepress and printing house. Of course, starting out, you can farm out the prepress work or combine prepress and printing on the same computer. I forgot to mention monitors. These need to be calibrated for prepress work and an entry level monitor used to be the Sony Artisan ($1500) but it’s no longer being manufactured because of the general shift to LCD. Figure about $2000 for a good LCD monitor that can be calibrated (you'll need a calibrator and software).


What you absolutely need to get started: the printer ($3000 for a 7800), Photoshop ($6-700), a recent computer with at least ¾ gig memory. Capture and prepress work you’d farm out. You wouldn't have a RIP so you'd have to print out of Photoshop (a process I found daunting) and use the Epson printer driver. Photoshop and the Epson driver will produce very good work; it's just that the process is a lot easier with a RIP. One thing, though, is that you won't be able to print really neutral B&W without a RIP; Epson seems to promise that you can with the new K3 (stands for three black inks: black, light black, and light, light black) ink set, but you can't. You'd be surprised how much B&W art work will come along.

Capture is the big expense and for the most part can be avoided by having someone else do it for you. Here I’m talking about scanners (we have an Epson 1640 flatbed, a Creo IQ Smart tabloid flat bed, a Howtek 4500 drum scanner and a Cruse wide format art scanner). Large format art scanners are hugely expensive (they are the large drum scanners of 5 years ago), starting at about $40,000 for a copy stand, medium format camera body and a scan back. And this is only a feasible option for someone who is a skilled copy photographer. To give some idea what an entry level scan back is, it can produce 40 mega pixel files (around 120mb); we've made 400mb (over 100 mega pixels) files on our Cruse. You can see why a digital camera, even the best on the market, isn’t an option. You can work around large format scanners by photographing art with a medium format film camera with transparency film, developing the film, and then scanning the transparency with a film or drum scanner. This method use to be the industry standard but is used less and less because it's very labor intensive (highly skilled labor at that) and fraught with potential errors. For photo restoration work, an inexpensive scanner like the Epson 1640 ($1,400) will work nicely and that's what we use for it. You can actually use this scanner to scan fairly large pieces by scanning in sections and then stitching the sections together in Photoshop or by using stitching software like Panavision's Image Assembler. It's not easy, but it can be done; I know people who do it, and I've done it.

Is getting into wide format printing worth the expense and effort? I think so, and it’s worked out well for me. What did I expect to get out of it? I wanted something to keep me interested in my business and intellectually challenged. We don’t promote this service heavily because until recently we weren’t very good at it, but it’ll add significantly to our revenue this year (it pulled in a little over $2000 last week, typical) and it’s certainly kept me challenged. Just about all our business comes from contacts made in the frame shops and word of mouth from there so I think wide format printing is a natural compliment to framing. We frame prints, and producing prints has to be good for business.

And then, there is DaVinci from Wizard. Epson wide format printers will accept mat board and with DaVinci you can print French mats, color white mat board, print text and images on mats. We’ve done a little bit of this work but not much. Certainly, printing multicolored images and text and French lines and borders on mat board has at least as much promise as etching monochromatic images and text with a laser. In the next year or so inexpensive flatbed printers based on the Epson 9800 print engine are going to be available. These printers will be able to print on material a couple inches thick: 1/2" foam board, gator board, sentra, plywood. I intend to get one of the first ones.

I think, though, wide format printing is an avenue that should be pursued by mature shops, shops that have developed framing as far as it can reasonably go and feel the need to add other services or that simply are ready for another challenge and that have someone with the time to invest in learning a complicated technology.
 
I have an HP Designjet 130.

Really prefer HP technology and cost over the Epson. Epson's are way to expensive to operate.

Yes, HP's dye is just as archival as Epson's and the blacks are way better.
 
Sorry Grinch, but dyes are not as archival as pigments.
 
Okay - hey this is my first post here, registered 5 min ago!
I am really a photographer who started with a dark room back about 1970. I had my own dark room for years and would not switch to digitaly printing till 3 years ago. I had photoshop since version 3 and the original Epson Stylus Photo printer. It was not till getting the Epson 2200 that I felt comfortable selling my work printed digitally. I currently also have the Epson 7600 and shoot with a Canon 20D. (Wish I could afford a 5D). I have cut my mats and framed my work for years but always used ready made frames till last summer. Now I am happy to stock 35 diffrent mouldings, use an underpinner, and have a miter saw to make my own frames. Also I am furnishing a Benjaman Moore Signature store with frames and do custom framing for them.
Okay what am I saying????????
A photographer can read books, watch videos, etc and learn the art of framing. It seemed natural for me. I think a framer can also learn the art of printing customer's art. Adobe Photoshop full version is a must. (I use Photoshop CS but CS2 is the current version). I learned most from just using and experimenting, but do recomend these books:
"Adobe Photoshop one-on-one" By Deke McClelland
I have the one for Photoshop CS but the one for CS2 is out.
"Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks" by Scott Kelby
"Design Graphics Photoshop Studio Skills"
There also have been the "Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a Book" series.
I have learned more from books like these than I ever have from any seminar or class I have taken. If I was to read just one of the books I mentioned it would be the "Photoshop one-on-one" book. Take the time to watch the included videos and do the exersizes.
The Epson printers are incredibly wonderful. Printing a good digital file on Hanamuel fine art paper and or canvas is almost unbelievable. There is simply no comparason with the crummy output most people accept from Walmart etc. Simply displaying some nicely printed and framed work, and making it known that you can print for your customers on a professional fine art printer offering canvas or other fine art papers, should bring business. I have found when people see for themselves the differance, they do not complain or try to compare my price with a chain store that ussually has a minimum wage person operating the printer.
Okay I'll stop hope this has been of some help.
 
Actually, HP large format printers cost almost twice what an Epson costs. That is why I originally went with the Epson.

Acmach... I started out as a photographer who couldn't afford to have a framer do my work. I started with an Esterly mat cutter and bought chops and had a couple of vices. Doing this got people asking if I could frame for them so I went to school to learn to do it right.

I got back into the printing sidewhen I could finally afford the computer equipment and printer to replace the darkroom I used to have. I used to print Cibachromes all the time.
 
Hey Framah,
Some day we will have to meet. My daughter is in Surrry and the rest of my family is in Stonington. I got lost in the mountains of WV :(
I will be in Maine in Jan as my daughter is getting married to a guy from Bucksport. Quick trip in cold winter.
About the dark room I did like it alot, but only had drum processors and it took a lot of test prints to get everything right. When I did get it right I would print a bunch of pictures at a time. The darkroom taught me about adjusting colors and density, croping, etc. I value that time but really don't want to go back even though everything is still set up.
Hey I wonder if the 6 year old developer is still good??????????? LOL
 
Capture - with PS CS2 it is actually not so difficult to produce good copy from a higher end DSLR camera and the Merge to HDR function - perhaps not as easy but it may be a good starting point for some.
 
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