Need advice - printing issues

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coolmama72's picture
Joined: 10/20/01
Posts: 8185
Need advice - printing issues

I just posted this over at Clickin Moms ... but I thought I'd also post it here in case someone here could help me. I hate posting this on a more public forum, as I don't want business issues out in the open (so to speak), but I really need help.


I decided to launch a new product (not new to the world, as I've seen several vendors doing this) - I am doing custom name art. I've been working on this for several months. I checked out a couple of labs, but only had one lab print a sample version for me. That initial version was good, so I decided to stick with that lab (I had good success with their regular prints, and I have been impressed with their customer service).

My first real order of the name prints was huge (for me). I had about 8 desk prints done (5x15ish) and 6 wall prints (8-10x30 - depended on the number of letters) ... and every single one of them was uneven. Each print has a black border, and what was happening is that the border was uneven on either one side or a top/bottom (on a couple of them, it was uneven on both). I had them reprinted but the issue remained. I was very disappointed ... and confused. I mean, how does that happen?

I figured it was a printer issue. So on the next order, I made the wall image smaller by 1/2", put it in my print template, and then asked them to trim all of the white space. (Actually, I did that on an order of desk prints, and they came out PERFECT). The wall print arrived on Christmas Eve ... and it had uneven top and side borders. I was really upset, and emailed the lab about it.

Okay, so that's the story ... below are some images to supplement it along with the quoted email from the lab. The reply I got confused me even more ... I mean, how can they not trim it exactly? For example, I know people have story boards printed - are they ever uneven like this? I don't know.

Here's what the lab had to say

I believe the issue is that any digital print is enlarged by 1/8” of an inch all the way around before it is printed. This is to ensure that the image prints to the edge without white edges do to paper shift in the printer. Your print sized as it is exactly to .25 on both sides in white is getting enlarged. This should not be an issue with the additional white you have around the print if all of the white is getting trimmed off. There is however, a 1/16” variance on the trimmers so it is entirely possible that your print is trimmed smaller than what you need. I am afraid 1/16” is an acceptable variance and we cannot guarantee that you won’t be affected by it. Is your final product framed? If so, do you still not have enough room with 1/16” off?

My problem is that the 1/16" IS an issue on the current templates I have. I think the only way to make it NOT an issue is to play with the border sizes to make it thicker on one side. But I never know WHICH side will be chopped. In my big order, there were some prints that were short on the left, but most were short on the right. And then some were short on the top while others were short on the bottom. I just don't get it.

Here's what the image looks like when I am done with it

This is the template I use to have it printed - the image itself is a custom size, so I have it printed as 10x30 and then trimmed. I put the final image size into this template so they know how it should look

And then this is a photo of the actual print. The border on the top and left are 1/16" shorter than the bottom and right. It is very noticeable in person, as the border is only 1/2" to start with.

I really am hoping to do something with this business ... and I need to make the printing part work. In the future, I might be able to offer framed versions. And I might end up bypassing the prints and just go to canvas (I did my name in canvas and it looks AWESOME plus I had no issues with the borders). The challenge with canvas is the price.

But this short edge is going to kill me in the meantime. My friend actually had her parents' name printed on on wood (looks so cool!) and they also chopped one side of the border. I don't know if that's a common problem with printing.

If you read all of this, THANK YOU. What I really need is advice on how to avoid this in the future. I want to try another lab to fix the name print above (the lab I've been using is refunding me the cost of the print), but I'm worried I will run into the same problem. I thought if I posted about it here, I might get some ideas/feedback on how to avoid this problem.

Jeffininer's picture
Joined: 11/07/07
Posts: 1796

I'm sorry I have no advice or input for you. I've only used WHCC and only their standard sizes. Who are you having them printed through now?

Also, I so want one of these for me...but I'll contact you off of here Wink

coolmama72's picture
Joined: 10/20/01
Posts: 8185

I don't want to share the name of the lab, as they are a pretty good lab and I don't want anyone to think poorly of them because of my issues.

I'm thinking of trying WHCC for my reprint though. I've had some color issues with WHCC, but since this is more b&w (closer to a chocolate, actually), I don't think I'd have those issues.

fudd8963's picture
Joined: 12/27/07
Posts: 1630

I wish I had some advice for you, but I've never really had much printed. I do LOVE your work though! I can only imagine how awesome it looks as a canvas. Hmmmm, I might need to get one! I just need to figure out where to put it.

Ohhh, we gave the girls a playroom for Christmas. I bet one of each of there names would be awesome!

Joined: 10/20/07
Posts: 480

What about creating a full black bleed all the way to the edge on your template, that way the variance is virtually unnoticable?

coolmama72's picture
Joined: 10/20/01
Posts: 8185

"maricopamom3" wrote:

What about creating a full black bleed all the way to the edge on your template, that way the variance is virtually unnoticable?

that's what I ended up doing, with the original lab. but they won't measure for me each time, they really need the cut lines on the actual image. my problem is, I don't know where to put the cut lines given how they process it (they enlarge before printing, but then there's additional trimming when mounting).

WHCC won't measure at all, I HAVE to have cut lines. And they charge $1 for every single cut (so in this case, it's an extra $4 - in the case of the prints where I print two desk prints on one actual print, it would be an extra $8, and that really eats into the money I make there - I barely make any on the desk prints). So I'm not using them right now.

I'm hoping to work with my current lab to get guidance on the best place to put the cut lines for future orders.