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I've been wanting to make my own limited run photo etch for a long while now and I think (for the most part) I have the process nailed down. The only issue I have is finding a print shop capable of producing the artwork onto film at a cost which makes sense for what I need (small one off jobs).

 

I know the likes of PDP can produce fantastic photo etched parts for me, but with prices starting at just under $100 (with shipping), it just isn't feasible (although they do produce amazing work as witnessed in Airscale and others builds here!)

 

I have found online print services than can print the artwork I need, but again its the cost that is pushing the boundaries for me for making it work (small size/limited number artwork).

 

My question for all of you printer experts out there is, what kind of DPI do I need from a print shop to print vector artwork with details as small as .1mm/.004"? I know 2400 dpi will do what I want, but can I get away with a lower DPI print shop (which is cheaper) and get details as small as .1mm/.04" across with vector files?

 

Thanks in advance,

Chuck.

 

 

 

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Archer uses film negatives to print our dry transfers and the price has gone through the roof so I feel your pain. The main issue with film negative prices is that there is very little demand any more. I've been out of the printing business for a long time but even then they were "printing" directly to the printing plate, bypassing negatives entirely.

Not sure where you are but if you PM me I'll give you the name of the guy who does our..... if he's even still in business. And yes, you need 2400 dpi to clearly print that fine.

 

BTW: If you have a large printer in your area, like high quality magazines and such, you might contact them.

 

Edited by Archer Fine Transfers

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I was going to contact a number of regular local print shops but I’m guessing they wont be able to offer the 2400 DPI I need. I think I’ll make a list of high end print shops downtown (in Vancouver) and see what they have to say.

 

Plan A for me is to find a local shop and save on shipping. This will allow me to do smaller jobs more often versus an out of town shop. Plan B is to use an out of town shop and fill up my sheet with multiple jobs but do it less frequently. This will cost more, but if I fill up the artwork with multiple jobs I can justify the cost in my head. I would rather do plan A though. 

 

Thanks for the confirmation and I’ll share what I find once I figure it out, 

Chuck.

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When creating artwork in vector form, the dpi you are working in is not important since vector image does not rely on pixels - the whole file is "infinitely scalable" as described here:

https://www.shutterstock.com/blog/ppi-vs-dpi-resolution-guide?kw=&PPC_GOO_CA_IG-380875155766=&gclsrc=aw.ds&

gclid=EAIaIQobChMI466G1pDi5wIVibWzCh0JDARKEAAYASAAEgJ4NfD_BwE

 

So what you need to find out from the printers is the type of file they can work from, along with the quality they can output.

 

regards,

Jack

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Thats what I was wondering. Whats the best way to ask about quality of output from a print shop? DPI or is there another metric to determine this?

 

Thanks for the info.

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Hi Chuck

 

I have been doing my own photoetch for a couple of years now and i had the same problem as you.

 

I could not find any place to print in super small detail.

 

I ended up buying a Samsung C1810w laser printer.

 

I can not get detail as fine as 0.1 mm the smallest i have had succecs with is 0.2 mm.

 

But i think it would be very difficult to get 0.1 mm detail on DIY etch even with a perfectly professional printed mask.

 

Aligning the front and backside mask is very hard to do within a 0.1 mm tolerance.

 

Also i think you need super thin photoresist to achive such details.

 

 

I can send you a test print mask from the Samsung C1810 if you are interested.

 

Have fun.

 

Cheers

 

Mikkel

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Thanks for the offer for the test print. I was wondering if it's possible to get a home printer that's able to give me the resolution that I need. Do you know what DPI your printer is able of printing up to?

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For printing, you will want to keep your file in vector format,  most common types are AI, EPS, SVG, and PDF.  

 

I'm not sure of what kind of wording to use when conveying to the print shop that you want the best and finest print quality.  It seems most often when DPI is discussed, it refers to the total image size, and not necessarily the number of dots in a one inch square.  Even when looking at home printers, there is no slide scale for dpi in that sense, with usually just a normal print and fine print setting to chose from.

 

regards,

Jack

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Ok, makes sense.

 

Any ideas on how to separate the various print shops from average to high end when I search the local listings?

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I think high end outfits would meet your requirements, but as you already discovered (in your opening post), will only provide quotes for multiple copies. 

 

If it were me, I'd just shop local.  Visit in person, ask if they have samples.   If you provide them with the film to be printed on, maybe they would even do a test print for free, or at least give a decent price?   Would a test print on regular paper give you an idea if their quality is what you are looking for?

 

regards,

Jack

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Not sure (about test prints on paper). Does the paper the ink is being applied too affect resolution (just wondering if it bleeds out into the paper)?

 

It all comes down to cost for me.

 

If a local print shop can give me artwork for a lower overall cost than compared to online services ($23 U.S. for 9.5" x 11" film with shipping)  I'm good with that, even if it gives me multiple copies. I'm trying to get the cost to something below $15 U.S./$20 Canadian for an 8" x 10" locally.

 

Thanks again for the help, C.

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Oh boy, too many numbers running through my brain lately. I should have typed above that the smallest detail I need a printer to handle for double sided etch is .375mm (.023") across, NOT .1mm (.006")!

 

Sounds like the above printer that Mikkel is using (.2mm across) might actually work!

Edited by ChuckT

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