Some digital printing systems offer awesome color. Suggestions for color at 11 x 17 full bleed


How can you obtain color prints at 11x17" size? Color laser printers offered only letter size until last summer. So, before tabloid color laser printers were readily available, we began going to trade shows and here are the findings. Xerox, Savin, Ricoh, and Minolta, among others, offer fabulous color at 11x17 inch size. We attended the Gutenberg Festival at the Long Beach Convention Center as well as the AIIM trade show in Anaheim.



Until recently desktop laser printers only went up to 8x5x11 inches in color (most cannot even do legal size in color). So where can you do your short-run catalogs in full color?


We got lulled in by Epson inkjet ads and got their model 1520. It was a disaster. Their color printer was super cheap, but the ink cost more than the printer and quickly the ink costs became excessive. Color was so-so, with banding. Paper costs were unreasonable as well.


Short-run and print-on-demand digital printing systems are taking over many jobs from the old fashioned print shop with their even more old fashioned printing presses. But how to decide which new equipment to use? Curiously, the answer comes from color copiers.


The absolute Rolls Royce color printer for Futura Laser paper is the Xerox DocuColor model 40. Two years ago this was one of the few color machines (other than a dye sub or other color proofer) which can handle 11x17" size. No desktop color laser could handle 11x17 until last year . Most color laser machines cannot even do legal size in color (only in black-and-white). Consolidated Paper has a set of test prints which reveal the professional quality color reproduction of Futura Laser paper when run through a Xerox DocuColor 40 color printer/copier.


One thing I was surprised to learn from speaking with executives from several different paper companies is that certain paper types clearly work better in specific printers. And for ink-jet papers, you have to be sure to use the activated side of the paper. Many ink-jet papers are intended to be printed only on one side.


Futura Laser paper, as far as we can tell, is coated equally on both sides. The instruction manual of the Lexmark color laser says not to used coated paper, but they really mean not to use erasable bond. Futura Laser paper feeds perfectly well, indeed it is an outstanding selection for color laser.


Futura Laser papers are acid-free and hence archival quality.

By summer 1999 you could get color in 11x17 inch size, with a color laser printer, at super fast speeds, from Lexmark, their model Optra Color 1200 and 1200n color laser printer. QMS and other companies now offer tabloid color laser printers as well. We will test tabloid size color laser printers this summer or autumn and post the results. At the CeBIT trade show in Hannover Germany we saw impressive results from the Tektronix Phaser 780 in A3 size (and also 11x17, up to 33 x 48 cm large). The Tektronix even has Adobe PostScript 3. Among the few other oversize lasers with PostScript 3 are the models from Xante (B+W). In the meantime color copiers use PostScript RIP to improvie quality, but recently several color laser copiers added EFI color controllers to their hardware. So now is a good time to go shopping.


Today (May 2000) 1200 dpi is what you need to get better renditions of photographs.


New page format posted November 16, 2009
page updated March 29, 1999; links added July 7, 1999; last updated July 16, 1999