FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


 
ABOUT PROLAB DIGITAL
 

Q: How long has Prolab Digital been in business, and how did it develop as a company?
A: Prolab Digital began in 1989 as a conventional commercial photo lab that dealt with the “wet” processing of films and photographs. In 1993 we became one of the first photo labs in Los Angeles to venture into large format digital printing. Over the years we have evolved into a fully digital print company and have put into place the equipment and personnel to handle a myriad of production jobs. We are able to produce printing in virtually any size, and on a wide variety of flexible and rigid materials. We also have the ability to handle complex projects for retail stores and corporate marketing.

2. Q: Many printing companies have gone out of business because of the economy. How has Prolab Digital been able to survive?
A: Customer service is the key to our success, as well as producing quality products at a fair price. We maintain close relationships with many of our clients and strive to surpass their expectations. We also have decades of experience that we can call upon to properly advise customers as to the most economical and efficient ways to produce their projects. We are constantly upgrading and acquiring equipment in order to offer new services and products. We are continually growing and evolving as a company.

3. Q: What sets Prolab Digital apart from other printing companies?
A: We are always looking out for the needs of our clients and trying to keep on the cutting edge of what is popular. A good example is the line of wall art products that we developed to meet the needs of artists and commercial interior designers. In addition to printing on metal, canvas, wood, and acrylic
we offer custom finishing services to enhance the appearance of and add value to artwork. Our infusion lamination and liquid acrylic processes are exclusive to Prolab and unique to the entire industry.


SUBMITTING DIGITAL FILES FOR PRINTING

1. Q: What format files does Prolab Digital accept for printing?
A: We accept JPEG, TIFF, and Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and PDF files. If you use a file format that is not listed, please call us and we will let you know whether we can use it or not.

2. Q: Are there minimum resolution requirements for digital files?
A: Minimum resolution requirements for files will vary depending upon the size of the reproduction and the printing material. While 300 dpi at 100% size is optimal, we are able to accept smaller file sizes and still get good results. For example, we can use files between 100–150 dpi at 100% size when printing on aluminum, wood, acrylic, and canvas, though 300 dpi will give you superior results.

3. Q: What is the minimum resolution required for billboards and very large graphics?
A: Minimum resolution will depend upon the size of the finished graphic. We have an upper limit of 1.5 Gb file size for printing Photoshop, TIFF, and JPG files. Please call us at (310) 846-4496 so we can help you out with the requirements for large format graphics.


ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PRINTING

1. Q: What is ecofriendly printing and how does Prolab Digital participate in protecting the environment?
A: Prolab Digital is dedicated to being an environmentally-friendly company and reducing its carbon footprint. To this end, we offer many products that are recycled and renewable such as kirei board, bamboo, and biodegradable vinyl. BIOflex is a banner material manufactured to break down in landfills without any toxic emissions. We are also shifting away from using solvent-based ink printers, and migrating toward UV and latex ink printers which are more environmentally friendly.


PRINTING ON ACRYLIC

1. Q: What is acrylic printing?
A: We have two ways of making acrylic prints. 
First, we can reproduce the image on photographic paper using our Oce Lightjet digital printer. While the Lightjet has a resolution of 300 dpi, this is a continuous tone resolution rating which is effectively equivalent to 4000 dpi when compared to an inkjet printer. The photograph is then mounted onto acrylic plexiglas using optically clear adhesive so that the image is viewed through the plexiglas.The second way we make acrylic prints is by printing directly onto the plexiglas using our Oce Arizona 550 XT flatbed printer, eliminating the need to laminate the print to the acrylic. While this process is more economical than Lightjet printing, the image quality will not be as sharp or as saturated. This difference will only be apparent if one is looking at the product from a close distance.&nbsp2. Q: What are the differences between mounting a Lightjet print to acrylic and printing directly on to acrylic?

A: In general the image quality of a Lightjet print will be significantly superior to that of printing on acrylic. It is also more expensive because of the additional labor and materials involved in laminating the print to the plexiglass. There is one compelling advantage in a direct-to-acrylic print in that it can be viewed as either a front-lit or back-lit display. This is because we lay down three coats of ink on top of the acrylic—a layer of color ink, a layer of white ink, and a second “hit” or layer of color ink. This enables the photo to be viewed as a transparency while retaining the color and saturation of a regular print. 3. Q: Is there a difference between acrylic and plexiglas?
A: Acrylic is the nontrademarked name for Plexiglas. They are the same material, just different names.

4. Q: What is the difference between Fuji Crystal Gloss and Crystal Super Gloss papers?
A: The Fuji Crystal Super Gloss is a polyester-based paper that has better color fidelity and saturation than Crystal Gloss paper. When mounted to acrylic, it has a richer and more sophisticated look. Both papers are archival and are rated for 70+ years.

5. Q: What is metallic photo paper?
A: We offer the Fuji Pearl Metallic paper for artists desiring a distinctive and rich look to their photographs. The paper contains mica crystals that reflect lighting and give images a luminous and metallic reflective effect.


PRINTING ON ALUMINUM

1. Q: Why are aluminum prints so popular, and what can they be used for?
A: Aluminum prints are popular because they give images an unusually vibrant appearance. The brushed textured surface shows through in areas with little or no ink coverage. The image itself takes on a luminescent appearance and seems to change as you move past the art. 
This medium has become very popular with artists, photographers, and interior design professionals. Because it has a high tech appearance, metal prints have become popular for decorating lobbies, boardrooms, offices, and home interiors.

2. Q: What is Aluminum Dibond material?
A: Dibond is an aluminum composite material made up of two sheets of .012” aluminum with a solid polyethylene core. A sheet of this material is approximately one half the weight of solid aluminum. The surface finish of this material has a brushed aluminum look. When ink is laid down on it, the textured surface can be seen through areas of lesser ink density. In addition, the metallic surface gives images the luminous and three-dimensional look that gives aluminum prints its distinctive appearance.

3. Q: What is White Poly Nudo Aluminum and what is it used for?
A: This material is made by Nudo and is an aluminum composite similar to Dibond. A recycled composite core is sandwiched between two sheets of aluminum, and finished in white baked enamel. We use Poly Nudo when the client does not want the look of brushed aluminum showing through the image. Printing on Poly Nudo also gives images a saturated and rich look, and is an ideal material for both outdoor and indoor signage.

4. Q: What is the longevity of aluminum printing?
A: Printing on Dibond aluminum is good for one to two years in direct sunlight, and indefinitely in indoor situations with no exposure to sunlight. Dibond is warranted against moisture and is resistant to a wide range of chemicals and fire hazards.


CANVAS GICLEE PRINTS

1. Q: What is a canvas giclee print?
A: “Giclee” is a name that was coined to describe high resolution inkjet prints using fade-resistant archival inks. A canvas giclee print is an inkjet print reproduced on canvas material.

2. Q: What is the quality of canvas giclee prints, and how do they compare with regular photographs?
A: If we are given a good digital file to work with, a canvas giclee reproduction will have excellent quality. Because we are printing on canvas, the image will not be as sharp as a high resolution inkjet photograph. The canvas surface will simulate the look of a painting and will have its own unique look.

3. Q: How does Prolab control quality and color reproduction in a canvas giclee?
A: We have three levels of quality for reproducing art. For general purpose reproduction, our Standard quality will give excellent results but is not meant for critical color matching. Our Artist quality provides a proof print and one color adjustment. For the highest fidelity in color, the Museum quality provides two proof prints and two color adjustments. We work with the client to achieve an exacting color match that is reproducible within the color gamut of the printer. 
Note: There are limitations in what colors can be reproduced by the inks of a printer, so a 100% color match in a reproduction may not be possible.

4. Q: Do you offer framing or finishing services for canvas giclees?
A: Yes, we have a number of options available. The “gallery wrap” is a trendy way to present canvas giclee prints because it has a clean, contemporary look and doesn’t require additional framing. The canvas is wrapped around a .75” or 1.4” wood frame so that the canvas covers the sides of the frame. This is a very popular way to show paintings in art galleries. We also have options for finishing the surface of canvas giclees. We can apply a thick oil finish to the print in order to simulate the look of an oil painting complete with brush strokes. For the ultimate in presentation, we laminate the canvas to a 2” deep wooden box frame and then pour our exclusive liquid acrylic formulation over it. After being allowed to harden for almost two weeks, the coating encases the art in a high gloss, moisture-proof finish that has a highly attractive appearance.
 
WALL MURAL OR WALLPAPER PRINTING

1. Q: How large can an image be printed in order to make a wall mural?
A: Depending upon the resolution of the image, we can make a mural that would cover the side of a building. Wall murals are normally printed on 54” wide adhesive vinyl for easy installation. The strips are tiled together with a 1” overlap to cover walls of any size.

2. Q: How are wall murals used?
A: Murals are used to decorate walls in corporate, medical, institutional, and residential settings, and to make a visual impact in interior spaces. We can print on adhesive vinyl for easy application, or on standard wallpaper materials for conventional installation.

3. Q: Is installing a wall mural difficult? 
A: Wall murals are made from an adhesive vinyl that are easy to install. The material comes with a silicone backing release liner which must be peeled off before installing. If the size of the image is larger than the width of the adhesive vinyl roll, we provide a 1” overlap between the image segments so that they can be lined up accurately.

4. Q: Is there anything special that must be done to prepare walls for mural installation?
A: We recommend painting the wall with semigloss latex enamel before installing an adhesive vinyl mural. Walls already painted with semigloss or eggshell finish paint will also accept adhesive vinyl. Installing adhesive vinyl to a wall painted with gloss enamel may make later removal difficult. It is best to consult us before ordering wall murals. Do not use paints with low or no VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) because adhesive vinyl will not stick to them.

5: Q: Can printing be done on wallpaper?
A: Yes, we print on several brands of wallpaper material that can be installed just like conventional wallpaper.

5: Q: How long will printed wallpaper last?
A: The longevity of this material is equivalent to regular wallpaper or longer.

6. Q: Are there file resolution considerations when printing wall murals?
A: Please see “Submitting Digital Files for Printing” above.


SUPERGRAPHICS DISPLAYS


1. Q: What is the largest size outdoor print you can make?
A: We have the capability of making vinyl banner prints that are virtually any size. This is because we have a Scitex Grand Format printer that will print on rolls 16.5 feet wide by 150 feet long. Very large graphics can be printed in tiled segments that are welded together on our 54-foot long Miller heat welding system.

2. Q: How long will outdoor graphics last?
A: Generally five years would be an accurate lifetime, but we have installed vinyl banners that have lasted 7 years and longer.


TRADE SHOW DISPLAYS

1. Q: What kinds of trade show products do you offer?
A: We offer an extensive line of products to fill most trade show needs including booths, popup booths and displays, backwall displays, display walls, banner stands, frame and sign holders, and vinyl banners. 

2. Q: Are you able to print on fabric?
A: Yes, we can print on specially treated fabric using our Oce Arizona printer. We can produce printing on curtains, backdrops, retail store displays, fabric coverings, tablecloths, and many other products using cloth.

3. Q: What is a step-and-repeat backdrop?
A: Step-and-repeat backdrops usually have one or more sponsor logos repeated in a step or diagonal alternating pattern. They are popularly used for the purposes of advertising and as a background for taking photos of celebrities or noteworthy people in press conferences, interviews, red carpet and special events, and photo opportunities.

 

STUDIO, GALLERY AND MUSEUM QUALITIES

1. Q: What is Studio Quality?
A: High grade print directly with no color adjustments.  We always strives for minimum specks in the mounting process, but expect a few small pin pricks and a very minor natural defects.

2. Q: What is Gallery Quality?
A: High quality prints with one color adjustment and a proof print. Photos are printed and mounted twice if necessary to minimize mounting defects.

3. Q: What is Museum Quality?
A: Highest quality offered for museums, galleries and corporate use. We work with the artists to achieve exacting color match reproducible within the color gamut of the printer. Two proof prints are included. Mounting is flawless and free of any natural defects.



GENERAL QUESTIONS

1. Q: What is the standard turnaround time on orders?
A: Generally 5 to 7 working days. Expedited rush services are available at additional charge and depending upon our production schedule.

2. Q: What kind of shipping and delivery services does Prolab Digital offer?
A: Messenger delivery within Los Angeles is available. We also pack and ship for nationwide and international delivery. 

3. Q: Do you offer discounts on your pricing?
A: Yes, students get a 10% discount. Resellers, trade professionals, manufacturers reps, governments, and institutions can qualify for a 20% discount. Please contact us for more information.