Did you try adding the ruler marks to your files? Nice quick sanity check, just lay the printed film on top of a ruler and you'll immediately see if it's a feed issue.
Thanks for the tip jonkeefe!
We've been struggling with this same issue the last few months, and have not solved it. Just output a LOT of extra film. I do believe its software, printer driver or opperating system related. It began when we updated to windows 8 with Adobe CS6. At that time we were printing to a Epson 9600. 1-4 films from every 2-3 dozen we output would be off vertically on the far left or right, distorted. We decided to upgrade the epson to a 9880 thinking it may be a driver issue since we were using a 'hack' driver to run the 9600 on windows 8 since its no longer supported by epson, they didn't make a windows 8 driver for it. But now 2 weeks in with the brand new 9880 and 1 of every 3-5 films we output is off.
I NEVER had an off film while running the 9600 with windows XP & CS3. I'm considering going backwards if we can't figure out a fix soon. But it just seems silly that all the trouble is coming from the 'updated', one would think, better system....
Anyone running a 9880 with windows 8 & CS6 with a RIP? Any problems? That was going to be our next possible fix attempt.
I was struggling with this BIG TIME. Got some great advice from Jason at Delicious Design League:
Print blank films at the size you want, then use them sheet-fed.
Besides negating any issues related to rollback tension you'll discharge static buildup when you handle the film.
I was as much as 1/8" off printing off my roll and nothing (including all tips from this thread and PMing a few kind folks) worked until this. I would have been in a heap of trouble to printing 16 screens 36" x 24" with really right reg.
They still don't come out absolutely "perfect" but we're talking within a millimeter. I think at that point the material itself (it being sort of kind pliable) is the culprit.
FYI I don't use a RIP and usually print from Illustrator, even when doing bitmap stuff, just to stay consistent. I'm printing with an Epson 7900, 24" Chromaline Accujet film, Photo or Matte black depending on what's loaded up (both work really great).
@PedalPrinting: I don't any RIP and I print files directly from Illustrator and YES, I've started to have this bad registration between films when I switched from Windows XP to Windows 7.
If the issue was given from the printer feeding the error couldn't be replicable, and I can PERFECTLY replicate the error printing the same file in two printing session. This makes me think the problem is given by the driver (or better between Windows and the Epson 7880).
The only way I've partially solved is printing the film with the same direction: printing all the colors horizontally or vertically. I said partially because the bad registration sometimes still is there.
Hope this helps!
Last edited by NeroInferno; 12-18-2013 at 03:06 AM. Reason: epson, stylus, pro, bad, registration, off, film
You always have to print your films in the same direction regardless of whether your printer is acting up. So if you start printing your films for a print horizontally then stick with that through out.
The polycarbonate expands and contracts differently given length and orientation to the roll and your basically putting water onto it which affects it as well.
In a similar vein, I once thought I could cheat while outputting some CMYK films for a small sized job. Rather than running each channel through the rip with the proper angles, I took each channel and rotated the image by the angle I wanted the dots. I put each rotated image into one file and ran them once through the halftone rip at 90 degrees. While I succeeded in getting the film outputted quickly and with the proper angles, none of the films registered the way they were supposed to. So I never tried that again.
I agree, it's a good manner to print the artwork in the same direction but at least for my printing size (35x50cm) I've never had that issue until I switched from Windows XP (with CS2) to Windows 7 (with CS6). PedalPrinting had a very simila situation too. There is something wrong in the Epson driver, or both our feeding mechanisms are too old (I don't think so however for the new 9880). I believe the step motor of the feeding mechanism receives wrong infos from the driver, or from Illustrator.
I'm thinking to update the firmware of the printer too.
My old sheet-fed Epson 3000 makes films that register absolutely perfectly. Every. Fucking. Time.
But it's not big enough, and I'm awaiting the arrival of a new 7890 at the Crosshair HQ.
Part of the problem could be blank space on films...when the printer gets to a part of the image where there is no information, it feeds the media quickly until it gets to the next thing it actually needs to print. It would make sense that the feed mechanism and brake would have a greater margin for error when moving quickly and braking suddenly, than when moving in tiny steps.
IF that's the issue, then a solution would be to print a continuous line down the sides of the film in the direction of feed, outside the image area. This would force the head to do a complete traverse and the feeder to advance the same interval, every time, at the same speed.
I am certified by Lexmark for my day job and have access to their service manuals. But all printers that use friction feed are the same. If you have inconstant feed the first step is to replace the feed wheels. Those wheels are the only thing that touch the media and if they slip, the stepper motor won't know it.. it just wants to see the index pulse from the driven shaft. It never REALLY knows where the media is.. it just counts the pulses. On very cheap printers they don't even do that.. they just advance the stepper X counts and that's it... there is no feedback to ever tell the CPU that the thing even moved... there is just a timer waiting for an end of media flag to trip within a certain amount of time to tell it the media is through.
If you can't get new wheels, some tricks are:
Take off the rubber or wheel and reverse it. They do wear directionally and 'flipping them' can restore the friction.
Clean them with isoproypol alcohol. This will soften the rubber and remove dust dirt.
Scuff them with a green 3M pad. IF they wear smooth they have less friction.
Also, if you have a manual paper thickness guide set it properly. To tight is almost as bad as to loose.