In our introduction to the PrismJET VJ24 24" eco-solvent printer, we mentioned the unique benefit of the bundled Windows print driver. Since this is a new feature not found in the rest of the PrismJET line, we felt it would be good to add some information as to how it works and how it can help you optimize your print quality.

The printer driver is pretty simple, especially for those familiar with CorelDRAW, Photoshop, or Illustrator. But beyond File/Print, you'll also find some nice printer management tools in there, so don't ignore them. Since it's also vital to getting the print and cut process right with LXI Master Plus, we'll present this in two parts. Next week, we'll cover the LXI print and cut setup. Part one covers sending and managing print jobs from CorelDRAW. Let's get to it.

Basic Setup: Size and Orientation

Fig 1: Use the Page Setup Area to place your graphic on the media with the correct orientation and position.

Let's start with a quick disclaimer. It is important to realize that each graphic design application has unique elements in its Windows print driver. The interface seen in here in our CorelDRAW X3 example won't exactly match that in Photoshop or LXI. So you may have to adapt this information to your graphic application's features.

The first step in the Windows driver requires choosing a page size. Since the standard page sizes may not fit your image, it's best to select a custom page size that fits the actual size of the print. Choosing a size much larger than the image area will add unnecessary white space around the print. This isn't a problem for a single print, but if you're printing multiple copies it can result in excess white space and wasted media. So step one happens in your design before the File/Print command.

Since the PrismJET VJ24 /MUTOH ValueJet 628 printer was developed in Japan, the driver's settings are all metric. Change the default measurement in your graphic application to mm so it will be easier to match it up with the User Size in the print driver. In our example, I have a 23" x 17" graphic. That converts to just over 609 x 457mm.

After resizing your image to mm, select File/Print and, from the list of installed print devices, select MUTOH VJ-628. Click the Properties button to access all the digital goodies. There are four tabs in the Properties window: Basic , Option, Color Adjustment, and Utility. Start with the Basic tab and click the User Size button to enter a custom print area. This allows you to set the width and height to match your image.

While you're in the Page Setup area, make sure you take note of the Orientation. Here you can choose Portrait or Landscape, rotate the image to print along the edge of the roll, or flip it if you need to print a mirror image of the original graphic. The preview icon on the left responds to these settings to give you an idea of how your image will be placed on the media (Fig 1). Pay close attention to the width and height settings and make sure those line up with the dimensions in your software. If they don't, switch from Portrait to Landscape (or vice versa) or rotate the image.

Quality Control

Fig 2: Use the Advanced Tab to fine tune your print quality.
Fig 2: Use the Advanced Tab to fine tune your print quality.

Just below the Page Setup area of the Basic Tab, you'll find the Print Quality area. Here, you can select the kind of media you're using, and choose specific wave print options to fine tune the print quality. These settings are based on custom ICC Profiles created for PrismJET media. So if you're using PrismJET 201, 203, or similar products, you should get excellent print quality.

The Default is Type One. To see the detailed information about resolution, number of passes and other criteria, click the Advanced Tab. This opens a complete menu that allows you to select your desired resolution, number of passes and "intelligent interweave" wave print pattern (Fig2). If you're not familiar with these options, it can be a little like going to a Mongolian grill. How do you know what the tastiest combinations are? Fortunately we have a guide from MUTOH that breaks down the output speeds and purposes behind various wave print settings.

The best choice for a decal that's going to be viewed very closely may be overkill for something that will be seen from a great distance. Use this to give you some idea of which options are best suited to your customer's intentions. In addition to the resolution and interweave patterns, the printer's heater settings can be controlled from the Advanced window.

The PrismJET VJ24 is built with an integrated platen heater that warms the media during printing. This is an essential element of all eco-solvent or mild solvent inkjet printers and should not be ignored. The heater setting can affect print quality and drying times. These can also be set from the bundled VSM software, but as long as you're in the Windows driver, you might as well take care of it there.

ICC Profiles have specific heater settings, so if you're happy with the print quality, drying time and dot gain, leave this setting as you find it. If however, you need to reduce dot gain or speed up drying, trying kicking it up a notch. Once you have your size, orientation and media options set, you're ready to print.

You can close the Advanced and Properties Windows, return to the Print window and hit Send. If you're using CorelDRAW, it's not a bad idea to take a quick detour into the Print Preview. This will give you a chance to make sure the size and orientation are correct. The Corel print window also has an Issues tab that will display a yellow caution icon if the software detects any potential problems. The most common are bitmap elements with native resolution lower than 96dpi and gradient fills with too few steps. If you see either of these caution flags, now's your chance to fix it before committing your image to ink and media.

Printer Control and Maintenance

Speaking of pre-flight, you might also want to take a moment to run a nozzle check to make sure all nozzles are firing. This too can be done in the Printer driver. Remember those three other tabs on the VJ-628 Properties window? The Utilities tab contains the same basic printer maintenance and control functions found in the VSM. So you can click Utilities and send a nozzle check. If the nozzle check isn't ideal, you can also do a head cleaning from here. And after the nozzle check has been printed, you can use the Printer Control tab to advance the media before you start printing. Or use the Media Cut function to cut off the nozzle check completely and start with a clean, fresh edge.

Seven Step Summary

So how do you put all of this together to send a print job from CorelDRAW or Photoshop? Here's a quick seven step summary. Click here for a pictorial version of this with full sized screen shots from CorelDRAW X3.

  1. If you've designed your graphic in inches, change the size settings to millimeters.
  2. Click File/Print, select MUTOH VJ628. Click Properties button.
  3. Select User Size, enter dimensions in the width and height windows. Select portrait or landscape depending on your layout. Rotate as needed.
  4. Click Media Type, Advanced if you want to change the resolution or wave pattern.
  5. Check the heater temperature setting.
  6. Click Utilities tab and run a nozzle check if you haven't already printed one before preparing to print your image. Then use Printer Control tab to advance media or the Media Cut function to start printing with a clean edge.
  7. Finish and return to the Print Driver. Check on any issues flagged by your graphic design software and click the Print Preview as a final pre-flight check. If it all looks good, click send and you're done.

So that's a quick overview of the PrismJET VJ24 - MUTOH VJ-628 print driver. Believe it or not, there are even more goodies in there, including color adjustment tools to help fine tune saturation, contrast and other RGB color levels. But this article should be enough to get you started in productive printing. Next week, we'll cover the basics of setting up the print driver for print and cut decals using LXI Master Plus.

PS: You can view the videos from our recent Webinar on the PrismJET VJ24, below...