Epson Printers - Borderless Printing problem

  Gary 10:10 14 Nov 2003

I am using an Epson Stylus Photo 900 and am trying to use the borderless printing feature. However, what I didn't realise before I bought the printer is that this works by enlarging the page so it is slightly bigger than A4 and the printing off the edges of the page. This isn't too much of a problem for photos (assuming you don't mind it cropping a section off each edge), but if you want to use the feature to design full-bleed pages, it's useless because you can't position anything properly on screen - the enlargement that occurs when you send it to print causes everything to get slightly bigger and move so it isn't in the precise location you put it.

I contacted Epson to ask if it was possible to work in a style more like that used by professional printers. When they design, they, in effect, purposely have the page slightly bigger on the screen than it will be in print, by about 3mm. This 3mm is called the bleed margin. Anything that needs to go to the very edge of the printed page is positioned so that it extends right to the very edge of this margin (i.e. the edge of the page on screen). But - anything that you don't want to go to the edge is positioned inside of the margin line, as if it were the edge of the page. In professional print, this is then output on a larger sheet of paper than the finished article needs to be, and the edges trimmed off so that the page is the correct size and the elements that need to go to the edge do.

What I would like to be able to do is deliberatly work on a bigger page in the same way and make things I want to be full bleed (i.e. borderless) go right to the edge. Then, the printer driver would not need to do any enlargement because I would be providing the extra information it needed to print off the edge of the page. The advantage, obviously, with this, is that if I wanted to have a box at exactly X: 10cm Y: 10cm on the page, I could line it up at X: 10.3cm Y: 10.3cm on the screen and it would be at the right place on the printed page because there wouldn't be any enlargement involved.

Having looked on the internet, there are many users complaining that such a feature should be available.

Epson advised that I email them, which I did, but did not get a reply. I have this morning phoned them again to check progress and have been advised to email them again, including if possible, details of websites where other users have expressed an interest in such a feature.

I'm just wondering, therefore, if anyone else has had problems with the Epson borderless printing feature, like those which I describe above? In that case, do you think my idea would be useful to you?

I'm hoping that lots of people will say yes and will recognise why this feature would be useful. Then, I can send a link to this posting to Epson and hopefully they will implement such a feature next time a driver is released.

Thanks in advance


  pj123 10:44 14 Nov 2003

Have you tried printing using Photoquicker which should have come with your printer. I use Photoquicker 3.4 which has a facility to move the picture vertically and horizontally using a thumbnail, so you can see what is actually going to print.

  Kudu 10:51 14 Nov 2003

Don't know what a fill bleed page is so i've never used it.Quite happy with the way fotos are produced using the borderless printing function.I thought PCA was going off the air again because of the time your epistle took to

  Gary 12:53 14 Nov 2003

Thanks for you replies. Sorry the message was so long - it was quite difficult to describe what I meant succinctly! :-)

Firstly, Kudu - to clear up any confusion surrounding "full bleed" - this is a printing term which just means that any design you print onto a piece of paper has elements which extend right the the physical edge of the finished page.

Yes, I have used PhotoQuicker and successfully printed photographs that fill the page. However, even there, you'll notice that you don't actually get the full photo printed - a small amount around all the edges is lost. You can test this out to see what I mean if you like - open a photograph in your image editing program and draw a coloured line all the way around the edge of a photo, say 2 pixels wide. Now print that photo using photoquicker and you'll notice that the red line is gone! The way the Epson driver works is that it expands your image so that it is bigger than A4 and then still prints that image onto the A4 paper. This means that ink is squirted into the inside of the printer (that's what the absorbant foam pad below the paper path is there for - to soak up the waste ink). Printing off the edge is the only way of making sure that your image is full bleed because it would be impossibe to make sure the ink stopped exactly at the page edges without leaving a very fine white line.

What I am really concerned with is not printing photographs, though - although I do use the printer for that. The results for borderless photos are fine and it doesn't really matter too much that bits get cut off. What matters more is if you are doing any DTP type work. If you want to have, say, a square box - 10cm by 10cm and 3cm in from top and left, you can align this perfectly in your program on the computer. However, because of the way the printer enlarges what it prints, you'll find that the box is slightly bigger than 10cm square when it prints and will be closer to the page edges than you really wanted.

This is why I would like to see a manual full-bleed option. That way, you can see which bits of your page will print off the page and control what moves. I.e. if you want a full-bleeed (i.e. full page) background, then you can do this by putting your background right up to the page edges on screen. Then, if you want the same 10cm box described above, you can position this relative to the bleed guides (see my original post) rather than the page edge, and when it prints, the printer is happy because it has something to print off the page edges to give you borderless colour and the user is happy too because things don't move around on the page.

I did point out to Epson that this is a more involved way of printing full bleed and suggested that they implement this as an option only - not instead of the existing feature.

I hope that this has made things a little clearer - and apologise that this too is very long!

Please post here if you would be interested in this feature,


  pj123 14:21 14 Nov 2003

Gary, never knew about the "foam pad" so have just inspected my printer (Epson 915). Now that begs the question "What happens when that foam pad is saturated? Where does the excess ink go then?" Can it be replaced easily and cheaply?

Don't want to seem thick but would an A3 (1290) printer work? Using A3 paper but printing to oversize A4 and then trimming? Actually, having said that I might try that myself.

  Gary 17:29 14 Nov 2003

Thank you for your replies.

I think it it unlikely that the foam pad would ever become completely saturated. Epson have always been using foam pads as part of the head cleaning/charging process - waste ink is squirted into a foam pad below where the cartridges are when the printer is off. It is very rare that this would get filled up, and, whilst I'm not sure where from, from reading other posts on the internet, I know it is possible to get replacements cheaply.

Printing on A3 would work - the problem with this is that paying for an A3 glossy sheet to get A4 output is wasteful! The system they have now of waste ink being collected by the foam pad should work - if only more thought could have been put into driver development. The way they have done it suits users who only want photographs or beginners, but is very restrictive for more advanced users. The way you describe doing it with A3 is very similar to the way professional print services work - except that they would still print the design 3mm bigger in every dimension than A4 so that they could cut into the design (i.e. there is some of the design cut away). This avoids having any white borders left after cutting, and also means that the trimming can be less precise.

Basically, to sum up again - sorry to those who keep reading these lengthy posts, but I'm trying to find clearer ways to describe what I mean without being too technical:
I want to set my page setup in the program I'm using to width = A4+3mm and height = A4+3mm. Then using margin guides, create a non-printing line around the page that is 3mm in from the edge (which will be A4 in size, because the page is 6mm wider and longer than A4). Then, anything I want to print to the edge of the page I will put position so that it touches the edge of the page on screen. Things which don't need to touch the page edges (e.g. text in a text box) can be positioned inside the margin guide as if the margin guide represented the page edge. Then, when I come to print, if the printer could recognise what I was doing (this is the option I want them to implement) and say, "OK, right, the page already has 3mm bleed around the edge, so I don't need to enlarge" and print the design so that the bits outside of the margin guides are off the edges of the page. (Note here that this is the way it is printing now - off the edges of the page by 3mm each side - but to create the bit that is off the page it just enlarges your original to be slightly bigger than A4).

I hope this is clearer now for anyone who has been confused by what I've been saying so far. Please post back if you don't understand me or if you agree!



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