Printing with Duratrans
Duratrans Printing is a substrate of Kodak which stands for “Durable Transparency”. It is most often used as a generic term for Backlit display prints. In other words, overlays that are lit from behind. It’s used for custom light boxes and backlit film printing for projections. More specifically, it’s a clear polyester photographic print medium. It's flushed with a translucent milky layer to diffuse light evenly throughout a back-lit image. Sounds fancy, huh? It’s actually more common than you think.
For example, the backlit film posters at movie theaters are a form of lightbox Duratrans. Another example would be the backlit printing on menu boards in drive-thrus. Lit up bus stop ads, retail window displays; you name it every backlit print you see is most likely a Duratrans lightbox. Basically, these prints are perfect for when you need your message to be seen day or night and with vibrant crystal clarity.
Kodak Professional Duratrans Display Material
Kodak Professional Duratrans Display Material is a translucent-based color transparency material designed for producing large transparencies for backlit displays on illuminators without built-in diffusers. The white- pigmented coating provides its own diffusion and its 7-mil ESTAR Thickness provides resistance to tearing, making it especially suitable for large displays that require a suspension system with hooks, grommets, and springs. Because Professional Duratrans Display Material has a thicker emulsion, it also requires longer processing times than the standard Process RA-4 cycle.
The reputation of Duratrans as the gold standard for quality backlit graphic film. In fact, Duratrans is known to virtually everyone in the Graphics, Signage and Advertising industries. Best-of-class color bandwidth, tone resolution, and the highest available black opacity are the hallmark. These have catapulted Duratrans from a laboratory idea in the late 1970’s into the industry-wide benchmark for backlit signage that it is today. Kodak Professional Duratrans Display Material is designed for making brilliant displays from color negatives or internegatives. It is available in a variety of sheet and roll sizes for applications that call for great durability.
Duratrans printing for superior quality images
Clients frequently use Duratrans Printing for their tradeshow and convention booths. Waterproof, scratch and warp resistant, Duratrans printing is suitable for indoor or outdoor displays. During Duratrans printing, the Duratrans print is processed like a photograph with a developer and stopper. This process gives the deepest, richest color saturation and sharpest image quality reproduction possible. It follows then, that this is the substrate of choice for large projects that require high resolution and stunning lucidity. That also means that Duratrans printing is one of the most expensive posters printing processes.
Digitally printed photographic quality backlit prints have incredible color depth. Basically, the solvent color print materials that you normally look at by reflected light are nothing like Duratrans prints, Duratrans prints are a semi-transparent color print material. Our Duratrans printing is frequently used in:
- Trade Show Graphics
- Backlit Signs
- POP Displays
- Menu Boards
- Airport Display Signs
- Window Display Signs
- Fine Art Display
- Public Advertisement
- Car Wash Advertising
- Snap Frame Advertising
- In-store Display
- Transparent Posters
- Illuminated Light Boxes For Backlit Signage
- Backlit Fabric
- Transparency Film
Duratrans Light Box and more
In contrast, consider clear styrene printing for a similar backlit printing effect at a fraction of the price. A thin, clear plastic (also with a milky white flush), this substrate is easy to digitally print any image onto. Like Duratrans, the user can store the film in a roll. For this economical option, please give us a call at 800.971.3021
What is Duratrans?
We get calls all the time from people asking “What is Duratrans”? Basically, Duratrans is a thin, flexible transparency film used for large backlit signs. For example, next time you walk through an airport or a mall and you see a backlit printing, chances are that is Duratrans backlit film. Of course, printing on backlit film can be tricky because you need to use a very specific laser printing process. The laser process gives your Duratrans lightbox the highest possible quality backlit printing. In contrast, if you use a traditional printer for backlit film printing, you will see lines and pixels in your printing.
We offer backlit vinyl as an alternative to Duratrans. However, our designers only recommend this for very large lightbox printing mounted at a distance. The benefit to printing on backlit vinyl is the vinyl has adhesive. In addition, you can also use this backlit vinyl as a large sticker for easy and long-term installation of your backlit printing. In fact, we can print backlit vinyl as large 4'x100′ for serious backlit graphics or backlit prints. We can also place a thin clear laminate over the backlit vinyl for protection from the elements or scratching your backlit prints.
In addition, Lambda is a very similar backlit film to Duratrans film. In fact, they are both a form of backlit transparency printing. Basically, Lambda printing is produced in the same way using laser printers to print photo quality posters. Lambda signs are great for museum printing or any other backlit lightbox printing. In addition, Lambda prints are about the same price as Duratrans prints. We use our Duratrans printer to print Lambda prints as well. Truthfully, most people will not see the difference between Lambda and Duratrans. Lambda printers are very large machines. Our Lambda printer takes up almost 1000 square feet and needs its own dark room for processing backlit prints.
What large-format printers do you use to produce backlit Duratrans?
We use an in-house production Oce large format printer for all Duratrans material printing and point-of-purchase displays. In contrast, this is not the same wide format printing process that we use for banners. Our digital printing for all printing services uses UV ink for long-term durability. Backlit printing can be a very sensitive process so it is important to use the correct printers. Duratrans material requires extremely careful handling so you do not get fingerprints on the translucent film.
What is the best way to travel with or ship backlit graphics?
We recommend shipping your backlit graphics in a cardboard roll case. In addition, consider wrapping in transfer paper such as tissue paper or foam padding. We recommend putting your shipping labels directly onto the cardboard roll.
What if I need my backlit prints in a rush?
Although backlist transparencies can take up to 2 weeks to produce, our team can rush your order. If you need your backlit printing rushed, just give us a call!
Are Duratran material, duratran printing, dura trans, and Duratran prints the same thing as Duratrans?
No, those common misspelling of the word Duratrans. Duratran is not singular for Duratrans.
What are the Duratrans material specifications?
To keep it simple, Duratrans thickness is about as thick as a normal poster or film. Duratrans paper is not a product because it would rip too easily. Clear Duratrans and translucent Duratrans are the 2 most common products.
- STORAGE AND HANDLING
- Handling Duratrans
- White-Light Exposure Method
- Tricolor Exposure Method
- Filter Times for an Aperture Setting of f/8
- LATENT-IMAGE KEEPING
- Spotting and Retouching
- Is Duratrans Better than Inkjet?
Store unexposed Duratrans printing material at 13°C (55°F) or lower in the original sealed package. High temperatures or high humidity may produce unwanted quality changes. Remove the package from cold storage the day before storage. This will eliminate moisture condensation on Duratrans printing material.
Handle material in total darkness. Be sure that your darkroom is completely light-tight. Eliminate stray light from enlarger heads, timers, LEDs, etc. Note: Using a safelight will affect your results. If absolutely necessary, you can use a safelight equipped with a KODAK Duratrans 13 Safelight Filter (amber) with a 7 1/2-watt bulb. Keep the safelight at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) from the material. Make tests determine that safelight use gives acceptable results for your application.
Expose Material with enlargers equipped with tungsten or tungsten-halogen light sources or photo enlarger lamps (e.g., No. 212 or 302). For best results with Duratrans printing, use a black base printing easel with easel blades to prevent reflections. Using a light-colored easel can affect color balance. Tape or any other material that can cause a reflection on the printing easel may form an image on the base of the Duratrans Print. Do not use fluorescent lamps to expose materials. Use a heat-absorbing glass to remove infrared radiation. Because voltage changes affect light output and color quality, use a voltage regulator. Keep negatives and the equipment optical system clean. Mask negatives to eliminate stray light. You can use the white-light or the tricolor exposure method.
Control color balance with dichroic filters built into the enlarger or printer, or with KODAK Color Printing (CP) Filters (Acetate) or KODAK Color Compensating (CC) Filters (Gelatin) placed between the lamp and the negative. You can also use CC filters between the negative and the material; however, use as few filters as possible — preferably not more than three. You can use any number of filters between the light source and the negative. If you use cyan filtration, use filters with the suffix “-2″ (e.g.,”CP10C-2”). To make a test print, start with the 40M + 25Y filter pack. Adjust the exposure to obtain satisfactory density; adjust the filtration, if necessary, to change color balance.
Use KODAK WRATTEN Gelatin Filters No. 25 (red), No. 99 (green), and No. 47B (blue) to give the material three separate, consecutive exposures, one through each of the filters. Be careful not to move the material or the enlarger until you have made all three exposures. Typical exposure times at f/8 for making a 6X enlargement for PROFESSIONAL DURATRANS PRINTING Display Material from a normally exposed negative are given in the table below.
Red 2 seconds
Green 11.2 seconds
Blue 17.8 seconds
*For an enlarger equipped with a photo enlarger lamp No. 212 or No. 302; the aperture setting may vary with other types of lamps.
You should not notice shifts in the latent image with keeping times from 1 minute to 24 hours. Therefore, you do not need to change your printing procedures to compensate for latent-image shifts under normal temperature and handling conditions. (If shifts do occur, you can minimize them by keeping the time between exposure and processing the same for all material.)
Use KODAK EKTACOLOR RA Chemicals for Process RA-4 to process these materials. Your processor must be capable of handling the ESTAR Thick Base of PROFESSIONAL DURATRANS PRINTING Display Materials. For information on processing material in continuous or roller-transport processors, see KODAK Publication No. Z-130, Using KODAK EKTACOLOR RA Chemicals. For processing material in trays or rotary-tube and drum processors, see KODAK Publication No. J-39, Tray, Drum, and Rotary-Tube Processing with KODAK EKTACOLOR RA Chemicals.
The image is intended for viewing by transmitted light. When the Duratrans Print is viewed by reflected light, it should appear darker than a normal reflection print. The conditions under which you view color transparencies have a marked effect on the apparent color quality. For a critical evaluation of display transparencies on Duratrans Prints, place them on an illuminator that meets ANSI standard PH2.30-1989, Viewing Conditions — Photographic Prints, Transparencies, and Photomechanical Repro
Retouching: You can spot or retouch these materials with KODAK Liquid Retouching Colors; do not use opaque retouching materials. Spotting & Splicing: Splicing Transparencies For large display transparencies, you can join two or more sheets of processed PROFESSIONAL DURATRANS PRINTING Display Material with KODAK Splicing Tape and KODAK Display Material Cement.
By Greg D’Haenens from SimpleTruthTherapeutic.com When it comes to the discussion of which backlit material and processes result in the “BEST” photographic image, frequently the argument is simply stated that “DURATRANS is better than INKJET” or vice versa. Here at SimpleTruthTherapeutic.com we have been producing high-quality backlit images for 25 years. We are a commercial photo lab and have seen up close the evolution of traditional photographic processes to the new digital technologies. We feel a careful examination of the two printing processes can help determine which is better “DURATRANS or INKJET”.The backlit photograph is not like a standard photo print. One is made to have light bounce off the front while the backlit trans photo has the light come from behind which travels through the image and is then perceived by one’s eye. This very basic difference separates backlit photos from front lit reflective prints. It is this difference which determines the best printing process to use.When we analyze the printing processes we find inkjet pigmented inks being used as if they were translucent dyes. Inkjet inks get their color from extremely fine granules of colored materials. (pigments) Visualized up close these granules can be described as colored grains of sand. These grains of sand reflect color very well but transmit none since they are opaque. This is not to suggest that a backlit inkjet print looks like a monochromatic silhouette, it simply illustrates that when compared to the translucent dyes used in a Duratrans, inkjet pigmented inks cannot transmit light as accurately. This is part of the reason that backlit inkjet prints have a muted color gamut. The dyes which color the light traveling through a Duratrans have been engineered for this type of image viewing situation. (backlit) Inkjet pigmented inks have their strengths when printing reflective photo images but the backlit media are simply an afterthought, a limited imitation.Since backlit inkjet images are printed by spraying ink onto a very absorbent coated media, dark areas will receive more ink than lighter highlight areas. This makes it difficult to maintain fine detail in these shadowed areas. Duratrans is exposed to light. Shadows and highlights will be exposed to their respective amounts of light but there is no chance for inks to bleed due to excessive buildup. Inkjet media can absorb only so much ink. This limitation helps explain why the shadow areas (Dmax) of an inkjet image will always appear dark grayish when viewed backlit. Add the grayish shadows with the muted color gamut and anyone could easily see a marked difference between a Duratrans and a backlit inkjet image.The inkjet printer industry has not been able to engineer a solution to the inherent limitations of the inkjet process when it comes to the backlit photo image. The traditional photographic Duratrans outperforms backlit inkjet in regards to image color saturation, shadow detail and overall dynamic range in the final image. In order to produce the “BEST” looking backlit photograph, it is important to use the right materials. “DURATRANS is better than INKJET” when printing a photograph which is meant to be viewed backlit.