DO NOT use Center on Media when doing a Print-Lam-Cut Workflow.
Issues with Crop/Cut alignment on Roland printers is often operator error and not something that needs a tech visit. The first line of defense can be adjustments to settings. The other issue of this blog entry that is often hard to identify from phone support is the dreaded [Center on Media] check box in the [Format Tab] in VersaWorks. This issue has been present since Roland print/cut devices were first rolled out – so those who complain it is a Roland problem should read on.
Let’s define terms: Print-Lam-Cut workflow is when operators – print a job using the Crop/Cut alignment marks; take the print off the printer and laminate it; put it back on the machine to cut the job. Crop/Cut alignment marks are the four black circles with one added black rectangle that identifies the forward right circle for realignment on the printer. This procedure is the standard workflow for operators looking for added UV durability and scratch resistance – predominantly for vehicle lettering, but often used in many projects.
First I want to bring up the Why. Why do operators check this box when doing a Print-Lam-Cut workflow? Out in the field, the most common reason for using center on media is a poorly tuned laminator. Operators are worried the laminator will walk sideways and off the printed job. They incorrectly click the center on media button to move the artwork away from the edges thus “solving” the problem. This is a great example where “common sense” leads to the wrong answer and difficult troubleshooting. Other than tuning your laminator (not always possible on cheaper models,) or buying a new laminator (buy once – cry once,) I can explain what is happening and help solve the problem.
The issue is in the way Crop/Cut marks are placed: Crop cut marks are placed is such a way that IF the pinch roller assemblies are shifted between printing and cutting – inaccuracies are introduced. How can this be? Well, to start, the artwork is centered by calculating the center of the artwork and adding space between the right edge of the media and the right edge of the artwork. This seems obvious and it is. What is missed is that the Crop/Cut marks are placed in such a way that moved assemblies can change the space and therefore the proper alignment.
How are the Crop/Cut marks set: In Print-lam-cut workflows? The crop cut marks are set just to the left of the right pinch roller and just to the left of the artwork (IMPORTANT: Not to the right of the left pinch roller assembly.) That is a mouthful, right? But this creates a variable space between the right crop cut mark and the right side of the artwork. That variable space changes when pinch roller position is changed. Many operators have used the Center on Media box for years without problems, they say. I would guess either that they are getting lucky, do not require precision, or have been complaining for years.
So how do I keep my artwork away from the edges? If you need an edge buffer because your laminator drifts – place the pinch rollers in from the edge (still located over the grit rollers,) but keep the media clamps over the edge of the media protecting the head. And NOW – Unclick center on media!!
I hope this establishes a “best practices” for Print-Lam-Cut workflows.