How does paper weight affect print quality?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by NStocks, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. NStocks macrumors 65816

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    #1
    Hi,

    I'm studying Architecture at University so obviously I am required to print out plans. The plans for the buildings etc. are normally black lines in various thicknesses. My workflow is: CAD Program (ArchiCAD) > 300DPI PDF file (exported from CAD) > Epson R2880 Printer, 'cheap' 80/gsm matte white paper.

    The prints I get from the printer are good, excellent when it comes to glossy photo's etc. but I feel the plans aren't quite as sharp as I could get with this relatively expensive printer.

    I use 80/gsm Paper, purchased from Staples £11 for 500 sheets. I'm wondering if I invest in a higher and heavier quality media, my prints will come out better.

    I spoke to Epson and they said that their ' Epson Archival Matte Paper' will give me far better results as it weight 3x more (190/gsm). This paper is around £30 for just 50 sheets...

    Does anybody have experience with Epson's Archival Papers? Is the quality much superior to your standard office superstores paper?

    Thank You

    Oh and I am using the correct Ink too (the printer has both Photo black and matte black )
     
  2. SadBurntToast macrumors newbie

    SadBurntToast

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    #2
    In my experience, paper weight does not affect print quality as much as it influences how somebody feels about a print when they're holding it. Most people are more likely to take something seriously and appreciate the quality if you use thicker paper.

    I suppose its sort of like picking up something that has a nice solid feel to it vs. holding something that feels light and poorly made.
     
  3. Kwill macrumors 68000

    Kwill

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    #3
    Vector

    Heavy media helps stabilize paper from cockle with either heavy ink coverage or large-format stretching. A coated stock (not necessarily glossy) keeps ink from spreading before it dries on the paper. Manufacturer-recommended paper (though more costly) has been tested and can offer such assurances. For other brands, you'll pretty much have to test yourself.

    An important factor that should not be overlooked is the file format. When printing line art, vector graphics produce sharper lines than bitmap graphics. However, a software RIP may be required to interpret EPS files. I do believe that the Adobe Illustrator and InDesign perform appropriate conversions. (My printers have embedded PostScript RIP so I'm going from memory.)

    Demonstrating the advantage of vector graphics, your Epson printer is capable of 1440 dpi (dots per inch) output. Most bitmap image files would be enormous with matching ppi; generally 300 ppi (pixels per inch) is prepared. Vector images tap into the full resolution of the printer so are able to be rendered at 1440 dpi.
     
  4. NStocks thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #4
    So should I go with the heavier paper to prevent ink spreading? Apart from the physical features of heavy paper, are the particles within it closer together to make a denser media, hence why it's heavier or have I just made that up?

    The CAD Program I use can output (export) PDF of
    300 DPI
    600 DPI
    1200 DPI
    4800 DPI
    9600 DPI

    I can also save as .DWG .DXG and a few others, but the reason I need to save as a PDF is because I have to crop the page to remove the Educational license logo (my university are against printing that logo. I know I can print it on page and cut down but that diminished the point of an A3 printer as I would need to print at Uni)

    Should I save as 1200 DPI and print on a heavier paper (Manufacturer Brand)? Would this yield better results, or would it be better to look into a way of saving it as a vector (I take it I can't print that from Adobe reader Pro 9?)

    Also, DPI and PPI are measurements of pixels, however why are vectors measure in PPI? Is it becase you can stretch a vector 100x and the pixels will 'adjust' with it, where as DPI the pixel with spread out ?

    Thank You
     
  5. Kwill macrumors 68000

    Kwill

    Joined:
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    #5
    Paper output

    I never said heavier paper prevents ink spreading. I said properly coated paper does. Heavy paper prevents/minimizes cockle.

    PDF supports vector graphics. If the lines are indeed vector the PPI (or DPI) value is immaterial.

    DPI is not a measurement of pixels though people commonly interchange the expression with PPI. There are no "dots" per square inch in a continuous tone digital image. There are pixels so PPI is the accurate term. DPI is a half-tone screening measurement for offset printing. Inkjet printers print dots, though generally stochastically, not linearly.

    If you open a PDF in Photoshop a dialog box opens that says "pixels/inch" (or "pixels/cm"), which represents PPI. As an aside, printing a PDF from Acrobat produces sharper type and vector results.
     
  6. NStocks thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #6
    I'm not sure what ArchiCAD uses i.e vector or not, but I will find out... So is it OK to continue using PDF format? From CAD users, I hear that increasing the DPI helps when it comes to printing, so I'm assuming that ArchiCAD is not vector based, otherwise it wouldn't necesarrly need to have 72DPI to 9400 DPI outputs?

    As far as paper coatings go, I think I will stick to the Epson Archival Matte. Not sure if it helps but here's how Epson describe such paper

    "This paper-based matte media is for use exclusively with pigment ink. With the current silver halide system, users have never been able to print matte finished photographs unless they go through very complicated processes. This 192g/m² paper is not only a solution to this troublesome process, but it will also attract many professionals who have been waiting for this type of paper."
     
  7. Kwill macrumors 68000

    Kwill

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    #7
    Apparently correct. If it's not vector, then higher PPI will improve quality.

    That should be fine. I stock a 240 gsm archival matte for large-format prints. Though it is matte, it is still coated for inkjet use.
     
  8. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #8
    Couple of other thoughts - I'm a photographer, with an Epson 3800.

    Before investing in expensive paper, get a sample pack. Some manufacturers put out a box of 20 or 40 sheets that will have about 2 sheets of each type of paper. This allows you to test the papers without investing in a single expensive package that may or may not be suitable.

    Make sure you have the printer settings correct. If you tell the printer that you are printing on heavy glossy paper, but you have the cheap generic paper loaded - the results will be, excuse the french, merde. Other mismatched paper/settings will produce similar results.

    Have you thought about popping into an architect's office (when it's a little slow) and asking what they do? They will have already spent considerable time and money figuring this out. Good architects shouldn't have any issue sharing this info with you since an architect (you) who presents well makes the entire profession look good.

    Good Luck.
     
  9. NStocks thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #9
    I spoke to Epson about samples, they said they don't ship out sample packs, only the ones that are already included with the printer (which don't include archival paper anyway)

    I'm on a CAD forum and they have helped me out a bit with this, but because they are professionals, they use Large Plotters, rather and A3 printers so there are a little bit of a difference.

    I used a Colormunki a while back to get profiles for Epson Premium Glossy and standard Matte paper, which I still have, but I no longer have the colormunki.

    I always print from Adobe Pro 9 because this is where I crop the page (to remove logo) and I know how to properly set things up in this. I will also export to 600DPI or even 1200DPI and run a few test pages but I'm not sure if I will see the result (as the lines are so small). I'm also going to make sure my CAD program is set to anti aliasing because I think to check this box when I started in CAD.

    There's a lot to printing, I get that but I really want to ensure I have optimum results because I really don't like printing at Uni. (it took me 8 hours to get one A1 page... plus I don't live on Campus, plus I always try to work on A3 for the sake of buying this printer)

    I’m in contact with a Architect from Overseas too so I can ask him how he deals with printing.
     
  10. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #10
    Are you concerned with colour? My understanding of your initial post was that you were printing black lines on white paper? I'm not personally familiar with ColorMunki but I believe it is only a colour calibration tool? I don't know that it will help much with sharpness.

    Sample packs are often sold in photo supply stores. Perhaps talking to a sales person in a pro photo store will help. Your printer is probably targeted at photographers, for the most part, so your best advice may come from a photography store.

    Just re-read your initial post. Try the cheap photo grade paper from Staples. (It sounds like you are using a paper intended for draft text.) I might stay away from glossy surface, but try the satin surface and the matte surface. I'm not familiar with the A1 A3 paper sizes (because I live in Canada - officially metric - we use the familiar inches for paper sizes, of course :rolleyes: ) But I'm guessing you are needing to print larger than normal sized pages. You could test surfaces on smaller sized paper until you find the surface you like. Crop out a small section of your plan and print it at the same scale as the big page for a true test.
     
  11. NStocks thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #11
    The paper I use is Mondi Treotec Unique (link below, it's the green graphics with a conker on the pack ), apparantley a multifunctional paper http://www.mondigroup.com/products/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-80/

    I print colour quite a lot too and this is normally done on the same paper, unless it's a photo but I was looking at altering this. Maybe having a matte paper for Black lines etc. and semi-gloss for renderings/graphics and premium gloss for photos.

    The colormunki is indeed a color calibrator. It calibrates your screen, then you print out a test page, use the device to scan the colors then print a 2nd page and it will generate a profile for the ink and paper used ( so you need to do this for each paper type, but I don't have the device anymore)

    There is a company called Lyson who make high quality continious ink systems and paper for Epson printer (and others, but mainly Epson). They have a sample pack with a lot of different paper types for £2 http://www.marrutt.com/lyson-starter-media-pack.php but I would prefer to stick with Epson...

    Oh, A3 paper size is 11.7 × 16.5 inches:rolleyes:
     
  12. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    USA
    #12
    You are misinterpreting what ArchiCAD does. It is only possible to produce 72-9400 dpi raster graphic versions of an image by rendering a single set of vector data at the resolution of the user's choice.

    PDF is not the native format of ArchiCAD. It is just one of several supported formats. ArchiCAD also supports DWG, JPG, TIF, PSD, DGN, ... I gather that ArchiCAD targets architects who want to include architectural renderings in their publications. This application can directly output files that match the equipment used to print these publications.

    You should be able to print at the resolution of your printer. By printing to PDF, you should also get pure vector-based PDF files using ArchiCAD.
     
  13. NStocks thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #13
    I can print directly from ArchiCAD however, there will be a educational licsense printed in the top right corner of my page. This is something the University does not like to see...

    Why are you saying exactly ? Do I need to export my CAD file as a different format or higher resolution? I layout all my drawings in the 'Publish' section of the program so that they are all arranged how I want them (similar to InDesign), from there I can save as anything really but I still need to crop the top right of the page. (So I layout all my work on a A2 sheet, export that and then crop the A2 down to A3, knowing that all my content is in the lower left of the page, so that only the logo is cut off.

    Thank You
     
  14. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #14
    You just need to fancy label with your name, etc on it that you can stick on the printed page and cover the license bit..... It will be a good opportunity to play with what could become your professional logo or word-mark, eh? Then you can print directly, and save some time. :D :D Easy, eh?
     
  15. NStocks thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #15
    Haha, I also got told off for having my name on each page of work too :rolleyes:. But no, I don't mind cutting down the page in Adobe pro 9 it's just that I want to make sure I'm getting the best possible results I can.

    I should receive my replament Macbook Pro tomorrow so I can have a look what I can do there, after I have installed everything of course :p (I had a C2D 2009 that overheated, they repaired it but didn't fix the issue so Apple are giving me a brand new 2010 i5 17" to replace the broke 17", can't wait :D)
     
  16. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #16
    A) Boy they are difficult. Blank white label?
    B) Lucky you! :)
     
  17. NStocks thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #17
    A) Haha, I know. I joked about this on the CAD forum too, thing is most of the members on there are Americans and they are 'allowed' to do this. It could just be my University but hey. I guess they want use to look professional :rolleyes:

    B)I'm not lucky. It took the Apple Authorized Service providers 4 weeks to replace the logic board. It's now the 5th week without my Mac and Apple should have sent the new one to me on Monday... seriously pissed off at them right now regardless of the replacement (a replacement was made because of the time it took and because there wasn't really much room for repairs after the logic board replacement. If you get bored, checkout the thread 'My Macbook Pro reached 106C Degrees!' There are 10 pages but other members found it very interesting :p)
     
  18. NStocks thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #18
    Ok I've found some Epson samples that I had from another printer (2009). I hace printed the same file with the same settings on each page. Below are images of the prints.

    The files was created in ArchiCAD, then exported to PDF at 1200DPI (my printer is 1400DPI, the next option in ArchiCAD is 2800DPI...

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but are these prints 'almost' vectors because I'm printing near the maximum that my printer can output?

    Anyway, as you can see because the Epson paper is coated, the ink has not 'spread' resulting in a much cleaner line. Only thing is that the Epson paper is not as white as the other paper... At least now I have proof that a coated paper gives better results (as posted earlier).

    I also have a sample of Epson heavyweight matte paper, which is brigher than the semi-gloss but I have yet to test that out (I'm in the process, will post tonight)

    Let me know what you think.

    Thank You
     

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  19. Kwill macrumors 68000

    Kwill

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    #19
    Yes, coated paper will give better results. My point earlier is that "coated" does not always mean "glossy." Even the matte paper I use is coated so ink does not spread. (Don't print on copier paper.) I am happy you found something that offers satisfying results.
     
  20. NStocks thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #20
    Yep, the Semi-gloss is great, but it's slightly yellow. I'm going to try the heavyweight matte too. If that's not as good as Semi-gloss, I will try a different (premium) brand that offer semi-gloss in bright white.

    Thanks for your help.
     
  21. NStocks thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #21
    And here's a comparison of:
    Office Paper
    Epson Premium Semi-Glossy
    Epson Heavyweight Matte

    Overall the semi gloss is better but in real-life it doesn't look white enough. The matte is slightly cream but the semi-gloss is slightly grey looking... I guess I need choose which I prefer...

    Maybe if I can find a bright Semi-gloss, that will work but I prefer to stay with Epson brands, as it's an Epson printer therefor the profile work better etc.
     

    Attached Files:

  22. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #22
    There are profiles for every pro paper out there, and they aren't difficult to install. If you want bright white, find a coated paper in the whiteness you want, and the price you want. Often, you can just use one of the Epson profiles.... especially since you are not printing full colour photographs. Remember that the profiles are mostly concerned with faithfully putting the colour that you see on a calibrated monitor onto the paper. Line drawings are not such a priority. Glad that you are making progress in your efforts to find the perfect paper.
     
  23. NStocks thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #23
    I spoke to Epson (Online chat) and they said that the semi-gloss is the brightest. Whilst I can see that it seems brighter, because light reflects off it, I'm not sure the whiteness is quite what I want. The Matte is also fairly bright, however it's slightly yellow. Having said that it depends entirely on the lighting conditions i.e if I place the sheets on my window ledge, the semi-gloss is noticeably brighter...

    I've heard that HP bright white is used by Architects but again, I prefer to stay with Epson.
     
  24. jeremy h macrumors 6502

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    #24
    I think Kwill nailed it with the second post. In my experience (dealing with Architects plans as a designer) when CAD programs output to PDF they use vectors.

    (You can test this - open the PDF in Illustrator and view in artwork mode.)

    What appears to be a solid filled area (say an area of grass) can often be thousands of individual points or lines each with a small overlapping stroke (In say green) that build up to form an apparently solid area of colour.

    If this is the case then using a postscript enabled printer (as opposed to non PS printer) will make a much bigger difference than subtle differences in paper stocks.

    I nearly always 'clean up' the plan in Illustrator before printing (You can save as a PDF again once done) as depending on the enlargement or reduction of the image lines visible onscreen can drop out when printed and there can be all sorts of hidden nasties in there. Dozens of layers - embedded pixel graphics etc etc

    For example - sometimes I'll get an A1 plan with outlines (say inside pillars) that are specified at .25 of point - reduce this to A4 and they become invisible. Adding a bit of a thicker stroke can help.

    (As for paper - when I used Epson inkjets I tended to like their Photo Quality Matt)
     
  25. NStocks thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #25
    How do I view it in Artwork mode (the search tool doesn't show anything)

    What exactly is postscript printing? Does my printer have it (Epson R2880)?

    When you say 'clean up in illustrator' what does that mean exactly? If it's already a 2D plan, what cleaning up is there to do (unless you mean mis-aligned lines?)

    Also, when you use to use Epson, you said you use Photo Quality Matt, how long ago was this as Epson may have changed their names... Was is photo paper or Matt paper? (could have been called Archival matte )

    Thank You!
     

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