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Cadlink VS EKprint VS Acrorip V9.03


johnson4
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So, While I have been working on color management, I decided to do a little testing.

I have three of the main programs installed on my computer. 

1. Cadlink

2. Ekprint

3. AcroRip 9.03

 

Now, I'm seeing photo's of peoples success, some people with fantastic colors, some people with lines in their prints( no i'm not talking about clogged nozzles). As well, Some people complaining about how long it takes for the final print. 

 

Within this thread, I will be documenting the differences between the three programs, the main advantages and disadvantages to me, which and why I prefer one over the other two. 

 

I will break down each program for my pro's and con's, with photos and possibly a video later on for proof. 

 

But, A little preview:

1 of these programs Prints Slow for the quality and leaves visible lines in the prints, at a distance, it isn't noticeable. 

1 of these programs is very easily profiled and produces PERFECT colored prints at the same speed as the other, just much higher quality without the lines in the prints, while being the most color accurate. 

1 of these programs processes and prints faster than the other two, at the same or better quality ( no lines) a bit harder to profile for colors, to the point some colors are just a shade off when the other is perfect. Still fantastic colors, just not as accurate as the other two. 

 

And my absolute favorite, comparing 2 of these programs at the exact same resolution settings, printing the exact same results to the point you couldn't tell which came from which program, Prints over 4X faster than the other. 

 

Yep, That's right. If you have used any of these three programs you could probably guess it. But I will break it down with:

1.Processing times ( how long the program takes to process the image to print)

2.How long the print after the job has been sent

3. Photo's, including up close of the results and possibly video of each print.

All programs will be printing everything identical, resolution, image size, ink percentages, you name it- it'll be the same across all of them, printed on the same printer under the same conditions.

 

What it boils down to for me, is Quality, Speed, color correctness. After today, My opinion has changed drastically on all three of these programs. 

 

I am baffled at the results, shocked. I will also include some ICC profiles( RGB and CMYK) for those that would like to try it, just in-case it helps. I'm profiling the DTF superstore Chinese inks. I have found it really helps, and depending on your setup, you'll only really need to change the ink density to find that sweet spot. Or, If it's 2 out of 3 of these programs, I could just tell you :)

Stay Tuned. 

Edited by johnson4
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For a 10x10 color\white image this is what happened, exactly the same across all 3:

 

Acro 9 1440x1440:

rip- 1 minute 9 seconds

prinr- 7 minutes 2 seconds

total: 8.21 minutes

color accuracy 7.5/10

overall quality- 8/10

cadlink: 

rip- 11 seconds

print 6 minutes 25 seconds

total: 6.36 minutes

overall color accuracy- 9/10

Overall quality - 7/10

 

ekprint- 1440x1440:

rip- 13 seconds

print- 3 minutes 42 seconds.

total: 3.55 minutes 

overall color accuracy- 6/10

overall quality- 8/10

Edited by johnson4
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I'll add photos a bit later, But overall this is what I'm getting:

 

Basically each rip performs differently in the "resolution" factor. For example, CADlink printing at 1440X720, prints slow as hell for the resolution. For every single print, if you look up close it has lines it, noticeable on darker colors for sure.. No its not me, I'm running a perfect nozzle check, and it's only when I print with cadlink. In 1440x720 mode, the prints take the same amount of time as acrorip in 1440x1440 mode, almost anyway, except in Acro, Your getting double the Color resolution- so no banding and overall better quality transfer. 

 

Ekprint, clearly prints the fastest, without any banding at all. It's the fastest, cutting down print times by at least 50 percent over the other two. the problem with Ekprint is in the color department. The guy who made it doesn't care to help you with it, doesn't make detailed instructions and honestly, I don't feel like cares overall. He's in his 60's now and has been dealing with EKprint since back in 2005-ish. Support over the years has for sure trailed downhill. 

I was told With EKprint, You can load a custom color profile, but the image must be in TIFF format and use the custom settings. Doesn't work for me. Ek fails to load, and to top this off, It's a PITA, and doesn't work for me. That's as far as I got, Even loading the profile into the image doesn't work, since EK doesn't have an option to disable it's color management.

 

AcroRip has a very simple method, Enable/Disable color management. I used an X-rite and made a color profile within minutes on Acro. Very easy. Colors are almost perfect, except for greens. I will later on do spot color's of greens and such to try and make the profile better so Acro has a chance against Cadlink. The rest of the colors I have printed, all look great, almost exact to the calibrated screen. The downfall to Acro to me, Is how long it takes to process. 

 

*****OVERALL*****

 Acro Prints the same speed as Cadlink, but at twice the resolution. If you print Acro the same ( 1440x720) speed as Cadlink, It literally prints twice as fast( as fast as EK in 1440x1440 mode), with the same up close banding. If I printed them side by side, you probably couldn't tell a difference, as long as the image didn't have greens in it. So your looking at a 50 percent speed increase in production time in comparison, as long as you don't need to achieve bright green colors. 

 

Ekprint prints insanely fast in comparison to the two other programs. The colors are not as good as Acro ( profiled) or Cadlink. Some colors are spot on, while others are shades off. Adjusting the program can achieve good greens, but then that makes other colors off. The built in Color management in EK is the issue. So unless the EK owner decides to make color management better, or allow better profiling for different inks, It's last on my list for color reproduction. 

 

Cadlink mainly focuses on the editing of the images, instead of printing them. I think their print engine could be better( how it makes the printer print), while the software blows both ACRO and EKprint out of the water, the print resolution for the speed is sub-par. Cadlink has this awesome ability to process images in a way to make all the colors pop, and be as accurate as possible, while retaining crisp edges and separations for the most part. My HUGE downfall for cadlink is the resolution it's printing at, and the banding ( now this is small banding), if your 5-8 inches away from the print, you can't see it AT ALL. But up close, you can see it plain as day, depending on the colors. This is a big negative for me, When I'm printing full color images, I want the colors to be good AND the quality. 

 



With that said, I personally feel not one of these programs is perfect for " real world" printing. 

 

BUT, If you want the best colors for the sacrifice of speed, and can deal with miniscule banding, Cadlink is the way to go. This banding isn't visible unless you really look, and isn't noticeable on a shirt. However, for slightly less "color pop" I can increase my print speed by 50% by using Acro. 

 

If you are cool with miniscule banding( same as cadlink), and cool with a bit less color accuracy and pop instead, Acro-rip is the way to go, at nearly 4 times the speed of cadlink ( 1440X720). If you don't want the banding, then print in 1440x1440 mode, at the same speed as cadlink, without the banding. 

 

If your cool with NO banding at all, and want the fastest RIP available with small variations in colors, Use ekprint. It is by far the fastest, but the worst for color accuracy.

 

Ekprint- $350 ( for single computer/printer model use) can handle many instances running, so I can print on as many P800's as I want with this one copy. Non-transferable. However, If I switch printer models I have to buy it again.  

Cadlink- $400- Works only on ONE printer at a time, Can only open it ONCE, Dongle can be moved from PC to PC, I'm not sure about dongle-free versions. Works on many models, not limited to one.

Acrorip 9.03- dongle free versions are all over the net at 0 cost- I'm not really sure what a genuine version costs, but whatever that is. It Will only run one printer at a time, but works for many different models, and of course can be installed and moved around as you please. 

 

I want to Also mention, From what I have read, Acro-rip 10.3 is not from the same people who made acrorip 9.03. From reading, It looks like a company took AcroRip, modified it and resold it as 10 and is claiming the program. That is why the program looks identical, except it has a few added features. I feel like this program was ripped off by a company( because the original owner didn't claim it, or couldn't) , modifying it a bit, and claiming it is theirs. Even the "new" features pop up windows are different than the original programs. Unless it supports a new printer 9 doesn't, I don't see it worth what they want for 10. No free trials, No video's on how slow it processes, just another " sly" way to take advantage of people. Acro 10 HAS ALREADY been "compromised" and being sold by Chinese sellers for less than half the asking price. Give it a little time, and I'm sure that price will go down as well, unless you just want to spend the $395 for support reasons. 

 

So, I will Use EKprint for my daily printing to save over 50 percent of my time and cost. For premium images, I will use Cadlink, since it does indeed make the colors pop, at nearly the same speed as acro. If this very light banding turns into an issue at any point, I will use Acro instead. If I didn't already own Cadlink, I would be using Acro instead and wouldn't even consider cadlink. 

If my printing needs relied on ONLY ONE of these RIPS, It would be EKprint. I can't afford to stand around and watch something take 6-10 minutes to print for slightly better colors. Some people might, but I'd rather turn out 30-35 prints an hour instead of 10. 

My opinions on the support:

While cadlinks support is decent, you get a different overwhelmed person each time. Many times, there isn't a solution, unless it's a basic issue with installation, or operation. Many time's I have been told " it is what it is". Many times, All I hear is bragging about the programs features, instead of it's function as a RIP program and how the issue is my fault. Basically, If I have an " advanced" problem and it isn't documented or doesn't work as their "self help" feature claims, your on your own. I will say, they do listen to their customers and I expect this program to get better with time. 

 

Ekprint support used to be amazing, but I'm assuming with a large workload of people, it has been degrading ever since last year. I don't feel the maker has any real interest in making the colors any better, relying on you to figure that out. a small " how-to" or simple ICC profile integration override button would be sufficient to make this the best rip software out there, while also being the most expensive in it's class. 

Obviously, Acro 9 has no support, and I don't think it needs it. It's as basic as it gets, and as simple as it gets. I have never ran into one single question, knowing nothing about Acro that I couldn't figure out within a few minutes of looking. 

 

Edited by johnson4
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38 minutes ago, uhim said:

In my opinion, not a good photo for the test, the test must be done on a test photo, for example ( Hakamada_test_sRGB.tif ) so that everyone can compare with the original and test it at home.

I agree, this is just one of a few I printed. I can test print this file as well though :) . the different rips also process image quality differently, even if it is a high quality file. This one would definitely show how bad EKprint and acrorip are with greens. 

Edited by johnson4
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Acrorip usually struggles with purple and light tones.

For ek i did not get any correct color.

Kothari with Dupont inks are best result for me without any color adjustment. It also have supported profilini devices on its manual and setup wizard. So i think best one is kothari. However they support reseller so if your reseller dont want to spend time on you you are supportless. It is important to have it from a good seller.

Dont know the cadlink.

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3 hours ago, anum11 said:

Acrorip usually struggles with purple and light tones.

For ek i did not get any correct color.

Kothari with Dupont inks are best result for me without any color adjustment. It also have supported profilini devices on its manual and setup wizard. So i think best one is kothari. However they support reseller so if your reseller dont want to spend time on you you are supportless. It is important to have it from a good seller.

Dont know the cadlink.

I trialed kothari once- but I had no idea what I was doing and got hit with orders so I didn’t mess with it much. Since the trial takes a dongle unfortunately I’ll probably never try it again. Thanks for your input!  

 

i genuinely think knowing all the rip options, actual print times and quality would be awesome. 

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On 9/19/2021 at 10:00 AM, johnson4 said:

For a 10x10 color\white image this is what happened, exactly the same across all 3:

cadlink: 

rip- 11 seconds

print 6 minutes 25 seconds

total: 6.36 minutes

overall color accuracy- 9/10

Overall quality - 7/10

 

Something weird there...I just printed a 11.25 x 15 image with my P400 and it finished in exactly 5:02 with Cadlink. Is the P400 faster than the P800 or could something else be causing that?

Personally, I like Cadink the best for a few reasons:

1. Color adjustments...I don't know if Acrorip can do it but EKPrint can't. I guess it SOMEWHAT can in the gamma adjustments but it throws a lot of things off when I do it that way. With the color profile that Cadlink has loaded, it didn't work perfectly out the box but I was able to adjust the CMYK individually until I got it looking accurate. I've noticed different inks from different manufacturers have their own optimal CMYK levels in Cadlink and the ability to adjust it is real nice.

2. The ability to just drag multiple files on there and hit print. The way my business is laid out, I print items to order so it's extremely efficient to be able to do it this way. The nesting feature is also great if I have smaller images that would fit on the sheet/width of the roll that I'm using.

CADlink DOES have some editing capabilities, but I stay away from them. I just don't like them at all and I'm a photoshop person so I like to do things on there, save the file and load in CADlink and hit print.

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1 hour ago, Mdrake2016 said:

Something weird there...I just printed a 11.25 x 15 image with my P400 and it finished in exactly 5:02 with Cadlink. Is the P400 faster than the P800 or could something else be causing that?

Personally, I like Cadink the best for a few reasons:

1. Color adjustments...I don't know if Acrorip can do it but EKPrint can't. I guess it SOMEWHAT can in the gamma adjustments but it throws a lot of things off when I do it that way. With the color profile that Cadlink has loaded, it didn't work perfectly out the box but I was able to adjust the CMYK individually until I got it looking accurate. I've noticed different inks from different manufacturers have their own optimal CMYK levels in Cadlink and the ability to adjust it is real nice.

2. The ability to just drag multiple files on there and hit print. The way my business is laid out, I print items to order so it's extremely efficient to be able to do it this way. The nesting feature is also great if I have smaller images that would fit on the sheet/width of the roll that I'm using.

CADlink DOES have some editing capabilities, but I stay away from them. I just don't like them at all and I'm a photoshop person so I like to do things on there, save the file and load in CADlink and hit print.

I’m not sure. That’s the thing, I’m certain each printer they support is individually tested/modified before being added. So I feel like each printer is going to be different with them. It prints insanely slow though, with Cadlinks standard 1440x720 mode. I’m not sure how that print time is acceptable, it’s not to me. 
 

I agree 100% that sucks with EKprint. Color adjustment is something that guy needs to work on, at least before I ever recommend it for color prints again. I mean, what kind of RIP doesn’t allow you to add your own profile? I was able to easily add mine into acro and Cadlink. If acro wasn’t so slow, I’d definitely use it instead.  
 

I do the same thing, I think most of us do business wise. 
 

Like your drag and drop feature, I click open- type the file name partially-press enter. Type my width, and it’s automatically centered in the film for easily alignment in press ( for me). Takes me about 10 seconds per print, since they all need their size adjusted. 

with EK I print 39 12x12 prints an hour normally, when I do black or white in the p800. The p400 gave me around 35, so not much of a difference in my opinion. I think it’s all RIP related. 

 

 

Edited by johnson4
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19 hours ago, johnson4 said:

I do the same thing, I think most of us do business wise. 
 

Like your drag and drop feature, I click open- type the file name partially-press enter. Type my width, and it’s automatically centered in the film for easily alignment in press ( for me). Takes me about 10 seconds per print, since they all need their size adjusted. 

with EK I print 39 12x12 prints an hour normally, when I do black or white in the p800. The p400 gave me around 35, so not much of a difference in my opinion. I think it’s all RIP related. 

 

 

Can I ask if you’ve tested Acrorip enough to know if it has the ability to queue prints? I know EKPrint just used the main windows queue which was simple enough. Might be able to automate the whole process so I wouldn’t consider the fact that I have to handle each print individually a problem. 
 

As far as the speed...would you say the 1440x720 with Acrorip is as fast as EKPrint’s 1440x1440? 

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1 minute ago, Mdrake2016 said:

Can I ask if you’ve tested Acrorip enough to know if it has the ability to queue prints? I know EKPrint just used the main windows queue which was simple enough. Might be able to automate the whole process so I wouldn’t consider the fact that I have to handle each print individually a problem as long as I don’t have to see wait for each print to finish before going to the next one.
 

As far as the speed...would you say the 1440x720 with Acrorip is as fast as EKPrint’s 1440x1440? 

Double post. Can’t delete this for some reason

Edited by Mdrake2016
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  • 2 weeks later...

Did you post the ICC profile for the ink, I couldn't seem to find it. I have noticed I get slight banding with acro at 1440x720 and ink runs at 1440x1440 so I need to play with my ink levels as well as adjust for my colors but it was far better than cadlink out of the box. I have an r1800 and they suggest using the r2000 driver but color order is all wrong with cadlink and kept printing a cyan base. I'm hopefully working with them to resolve it, but in the meantime tweaking acro. Thanks!

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On 9/21/2021 at 12:05 PM, Mdrake2016 said:

Can I ask if you’ve tested Acrorip enough to know if it has the ability to queue prints? I know EKPrint just used the main windows queue which was simple enough. Might be able to automate the whole process so I wouldn’t consider the fact that I have to handle each print individually a problem. 
 

As far as the speed...would you say the 1440x720 with Acrorip is as fast as EKPrint’s 1440x1440? 

I didn’t see this at all. 
 

acro Doesn’t have a queue and is very slow.  Actually, Cadlink and the expensive ones are the only ones with a queue that I am aware of.

ekprint has a barcode system, where you scan a barcode- everything you saved associated with it is ready to roll- literal just sends it to the printer, it’s nifty and better than a queue in my book. 
 

Acro 1440x720 vs ek 1440x1440 Is very similar if not the same actual printing speed. But, I get light banding with acro on those settings, just like Cadlink. Nozzles perfect before and after the print, so it’s not likely my printers. 

Edited by johnson4
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1 hour ago, Vintagevibes said:

Did you post the ICC profile for the ink, I couldn't seem to find it. I have noticed I get slight banding with acro at 1440x720 and ink runs at 1440x1440 so I need to play with my ink levels as well as adjust for my colors but it was far better than cadlink out of the box. I have an r1800 and they suggest using the r2000 driver but color order is all wrong with cadlink and kept printing a cyan base. I'm hopefully working with them to resolve it, but in the meantime tweaking acro. Thanks!

I didn’t, it’s specific to my printer setup. 
 

cadlink- honestly it’s just not there yet. The way they make their printer drivers and how inconsistent it is printer to printer is just a hell no from me. You see, the Cadlink we see is only part of the original program that was modified for DTF and sold $800 cheaper to be on par with other prices so they could be in the market. 
 

the original $1,300 Program gave you the ability to fully customize your printer and settings, including print modes, making your own ICC profiles and all that, at least From my findings. I don’t know this first hand. Simply look up Cadlink DTG, a few videos show us having many more Printer options with the “full” version of Cadlink. But, to their defense, it is much easier “out of the box” experience for 90 percent of the new customer base they have obtained with a basic pre made print setting with only basic adjustments. I just don’t have the money to buy and test these things, though I would love to, heck, I’d love to even have a go at the p700/p900 and figuring that out, lol. 
 

they are helpful- until you tell them what they just said didn’t pertain to your question or just have a cookie cutter answer. I had to pry for things that ultimately are available in only the full program. Also, don’t forget, you only get 180 days of support from Cadlink- after that its More Money or you are in your own. 

Edited by johnson4
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  • 2 months later...

I'm also using a P800 with CADlink. My black colors recently began coming out sort of brown or a burnt red. I haven't made any changes. I've performed many nozzle cleanings and print head cleanings to no avail. Any advice? I also have a new issue with my roll film. It will begin printing then suddenly stop and proceed to spit out the film without error until I cancel the print.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, JOxKxER said:

I'm also using a P800 with CADlink. My black colors recently began coming out sort of brown or a burnt red. I haven't made any changes. I've performed many nozzle cleanings and print head cleanings to no avail. Any advice? I also have a new issue with my roll film. It will begin printing then suddenly stop and proceed to spit out the film without error until I cancel the print.

If you don’t have good nozzle checks that can be part if not all of the issue. As for the film randomly spitting out, are you using WiFi or usb? I print a lot, so WiFi, even with a gaming router just wasn’t enough to prevent this from happening. After awhile the WiFi module overheats. 

 

as for the USB, I’ve had this only happen when the usb cable was too long, or crap quality. 
 

so 1. Stop using wifi

2. use a usb connection and make sure it’s 15 ft or less with a good quality cable. 
 

I don’t know about your prints, but mine are around 60-100mb per print. It’s a desktop printer printing around 35-40 those an hour, for me at least. That’s 3-4GB of data through a cheap desktop WiFi module. Any hiccup in the connection, if even for a split second will spit the film out. 
 

same with USB. A good quality cable, with quality end connections. I went through 4 brands before I found one that was of quality and worked well. One little nudge and the pc end would disconnect, or, low quality wiring/shielding would cause print errors after 10-15 prints- if that. This isn’t limited to the p800, the same cables did the same on my p400. 

Edited by johnson4
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