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File Creation Guidelines

JonPicFirehouse can print from most file types. But before you send us your Microsoft Publisher file (just kidding, don’t do that), know that the file format you provide can impact how fast your job moves into production. Not all file formats are created equal. In the on-demand marketplace, response time is everything.

Let’s try an analogy. Imagine a client wants a very specific food item from a caterer for an event, say a marinara sauce from an old family recipe. The client can send the caterer all the ingredients for the sauce. They would send tomatoes, garlic, onion, spices and a recipe to follow. But, what if the client forgot to send the basil? Or, the recipe isn’t clear how long to saute the onions? Substitute missing fonts, linked graphics or unclear print instructions and you get the idea.

IngredientsVSSauceNow imagine the client can simply make the sauce and send it to the caterer in a jar to serve at the event. Aside from grandmas around the world shrieking in horror about “SAUCE FROM A JAR!!”, the advantages are plain. Substitute a “High Quality Print” PDF file for the jar of sauce and my little analogy is complete.There are no questions about the content of that jar/PDF. It will be presented exactly as the client intended with no wasted effort.

Hours, or days, lost locating linked graphics or missing fonts can be a deadline killer. Sending High Quality Print PDFs (AKA print-ready PDFs) will eliminate many potential delays in the pre-production workflow. If nothing else sticks from this post, the number one take-away is to send High Quality Print PDF files.

I also asked our file prep team to list the most common problems they see with submitted files. Rather than make a simple do’s and don’t’s list, I decided to make a video to better illustrate these guidelines. This is a brief overview. I will go into more detail on specific topics in the near future. Any questions, leave a comment or send us an email at answers@fire-house.net.

Jon Heilman
Marketing Director

Firehouse Doubles Production Space!

PaulPic6-11-15-AIt’s been 12 years since Firehouse moved into our “new” building, as long-time employees refer to it. We left behind our namesake fire station in 2003 for our current facility. At the time, we thought the space was so vast, we considered leasing a portion of it to other businesses. No, really! Not long after we moved in, we filled it completely. A few more years went by and we added offsite warehouse space and storage facilities to house materials and parts. Finally, in the last couple years it was clear, we needed to expand again.

FirehouseExpansionThis week, Firehouse broke ground on a building expansion that will literally double our production space! That will allow us to close down the warehouse and storage facilities and 6-11-15-Bkeep everything under one roof. It will also shorten our response times for rush jobs and make our throughput even greater. And now we will have space to run multiple pack-outs simultaneously without the logistics challenges. Finally, it gives us the ability to add larger, specialized equipment, which again increases throughput. Construction will proceed through the summer.

Firehouse wants to be the most responsive printer for our clients. The on-demand world is constantly moving faster, and so are we.

Paul Meek
Vice President of Operations

6-11-15-D

The Three Flavors of Inkjet

PaulPicA long-running sales phrase would come up whenever we purchased a new printer. Sales would be excited to tell everyone about the new machine, but that would generally be countered with “Sell the burger, not the grill.” The reasoning being that clients don’t care which model of machine is used to get their finished print any more than customers care what model grill their favorite burger joint uses. They care about the quality of the finished product.

But, let’s push back a little on that. What if your burger place had three different grills each with different benefits? One sears better which locks in the juices, one provides the best overall flavor and one cooks your burger in only 30 seconds if you’re in a hurry. You get the idea. The same can be said of wide-format inkjet technologies. They each have specific benefits and characteristics. That could mean one is a better fit for your next print project. So, with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at these different technologies.

All inkjets share some basic characteristics. They all have a color element that is dissolved, or suspended, in a liquid to form ink. The ink is transferred to the print material and the liquid is removed leaving only the dried color. Sounds simple enough, but the differences between them outweigh the similarities.

InkjetTech_v2Firehouse uses three distinctive inkjet technologies, Aqueous Dye, UV-Curing Pigment and Latex Pigment.

Aqueous Dye Inks
Many consumer and commercial inkjets use dye-based inks. Dye inks have very small ink particles which allow for amazing print quality with sharp details. The ink is absorbed into the print surface which gives a very smooth, uniform finish that can appear more vibrant than other technologies. The inks are water based and safe to use and handle. The trade-off for the vibrancy and detail is that dye-based inks are not waterproof and they will fade with exposure to UV light. So, they are an indoor-only product and should not be in direct sunlight. They require an inkjet-coated surface for adhesion.

UV-Curing Pigment inks
UV-curing inks contain pigment particles in a liquid polymer. The ink is cured by a UV light unit on the printer. The polymer instantly turns solid when hit by the UV light. Prints are immediately ready for any additional finishing. These prints are ideal for indoor and outdoor use. They are waterproof and fade resistant. The particles remain on the surface of the substrate and require less ink to be used compared to inks which absorb into the material. Newer machines have LEDs for ink curing which use less energy and heat and allow for thinner substrates. UV curing printers do not require any specific coating on the substrate for ink adhesion. The larger pigment particles and lack of absorption give the printed surface a very subtle texture which doesn’t quite match the look and feel of dye-based inks.

Latex Pigment Inks
Often called the new kid on the block, latex machines have been around for several years now. They use a water-based latex polymer with pigment particles. Like UV inks, they are safe for indoor and outdoor applications. They are waterproof and fade resistant. The ink is heat cured. Prints are immediately dry and ready for further finishing. Prints are odorless and the latex ink does not require any specific coating on the substrate for adhesion. The heat needed for ink curing may be problematic for thinner substrates.

There you have the basics of our three technologies at Firehouse. But this is only covering inkjet. In upcoming posts, I’ll discuss Lambda Photographic Prints, Indigo’s ElectoInk and even dye sublimation!

But don’t worry, your Firehouse Account Executive or Project Manager can always recommend the perfect technology and materials for your print project’s requirements.

Paul Meek
Vice President of Operations