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By Tom Hauenstein
As mentioned in last month’s installment of Prints without Borders, the successful studio looks to maximize efficiency in all of its processes. This is particularly true with in-house printing, which is why the ability to print borderless, and eliminate a lot of needless trimming, is so important.
Before printing borderless, examine the common output sizes and buy rolls that fit those sizes. For example, if the majority of your business is selling 8x10 units, then buy 10-inch rolls. If the majority of your sales are 24x20s and 24x30s, buy 24-inch rolls.
Once you have the proper rolls in-house, you simply need to set up your workflow to execute the prints properly. Keep in mind that most printers cannot print borderless on sheets (the Epson 3800 and R2400 are the only two really designed for this). Also, keep in mind that most printers can’t print borderless on all roll sizes. Check your owner’s manual to see which roll sizes your printer can print to successfully in borderless mode.
Cropping on the Canon is different than the Epson. There is no option to retain size or auto-expand. It will simply expand and clip your image automatically. Because of that, you should just crop your image to a true 8x10.
When you select borderless in the Print Plug-In, it will automatically expand and gray out page size so you will not need to do a special crop for this printer. However, keep in mind that the printer will clip about an eighth of an inch on all sides but will still create a true 8x10.
Using the Print Plug-In
All Canon imagePROGRAF printers allow you to print through a standard driver or though a Print Plug-In from Photoshop. If you own a Canon and are not using the Plug-In, you should seriously consider it because of the many benefits it offers. The two most important benefits are increased image quality and ease of use.
You will experience increased image quality with the Plug-In because it offers 16-bit image rendering, whereas the driver offers only 8-bit. Therefore, using the Plug-In, transitions and gradients will be smoother, and shadows, midtones, and highlights will have more detail. Moreover, it’s much more efficient and easy to use because there are a lot less clicks involved to execute a print.
It also eliminates the possibility of double color correction (when you have color management enabled in both Photoshop and the driver, causing horrible color results) by automatically disabling the printer’s color management.
Finally, it gives you up-to-date print previews, enabling the user to know exactly how changing layout features such as image size and layout (portrait vs. landscape) will affect how the image will ultimately print out.
If you need help finding where to download the Plug-In, please see this article on updating firmware and drivers for Canon printers. The Plug-In looks identical in both the Mac and PC interfaces.
Borderless Printing: Canon Instructions
For this example, I’m printing an 8x10 image on a 10-in. roll of LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper on an imagePROGRAF 5100 through Canon’s Print Plug-In. In Figure 1, the image is properly cropped to 8x10 in Photoshop.
Next, go to File -> Export -> iPF5100 Print Plug-In to open the Plug-In (see Figure 2).
In the Main Tab, select the correct Media Type, Output Profile, and other selections as described in the article about printing through the Canon driver. To execute a borderless print properly you will need to go into the Page Setup tab (see Figure 3).
Select Roll Paper Options and a new dialog box will appear (see Figure 4).
Here, select the roll width you are printing to, which in this case is 10 inches. Make sure that Automatic Cutting is set to Available if you want the printer to cut. Finally, check the box for No Spaces at Top or Bottom (Conserve Paper). Then hit OK to close this dialog box.
Back in the Page Setup window, check the Borderless Printing box. When you do, a dialog box will show up to confirm the roll size (see Figure 5).
Select Roll Paper Preview in the Preview drop-down menu. Switch Orientation to Landscape. You will see the preview is now showing the image rotated on the roll. This is exactly how it should appear (see Figure 3 again). Hit Print and you will get a perfectly trimmed 8x10 from your printer.
Borderless printing through a Canon when compared to the Epson is better for two reasons… It does not require a special crop in order to do so, and the paper wasted between prints is only about .5 inches, as compared to the 3 or so with an Epson. Keep in mind that the Canon Plug-In also renders images at a higher bit depth (16 vs. 8) and prints significantly faster.