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  HiTi PhotoShuttle, dye sublimation printer 
  Jun 09, 2004, 09:30am EDT 

Dye sublimation printing

By: Sander Sassen

Many manufacturers have launched photoprinters over the years, most of which take a4 or letter size paper to print onto. Unfortunately the majority of these printers use ink and the inkjet process to transfer images to photo grade paper which means that printouts can be quite expensive due to the high cost of the ink cartridges and photo grade paper. Furthermore, not every image needs to be blown up to that size, normal 4x6 printouts are more than sufficient, especially if youíre just making a photoalbum. If youíre looking for small printouts such as these it is usually cheaper to have your images printed at a photostore, but for these smaller sized printouts there are also affordable alternatives you can use at home. When looking for just such an alternative we stumbled across HiTiís PhotoShuttle, an affordable dye sublimation printer thatíll produce regular 4x6 sized printouts.

HiTi PhotoShuttle

PhotoShuttle opening

PhotoShuttle dye-ribbon installation

Installing the dye-ribbon into the HiTi PhotoShuttle, these last exactly 50 print outs.

Dye sublimation is actually the keyword here, as this printing process enables a 310x310 dpi resolution for this printer, which, according to the manufacturer yields a resolution which is comparable to a 4800 dpi inkjet printer. The process developed by Hi-Ti enables the PhotoShuttle to print with 256 levels (8-bit) per color, because three colors are used, yellow, magneta and cyan, a total of 16.77 million colors can be printed. The most important benefit of the dye sublimation process is the fact that printing is fast, it takes the PhotoShuttle about 45 seconds to make a printout, regardless of color use. Another benefit is the fact the printout doesnít smear, thereís no ink that needs to dry. And last, but certainly not least, printouts are protected by an overcoat thatíll keep them looking fresh for a long time, HiTi claims for more than 25 years. Below you'll find a table with all the specs of the HiTi PhotoShuttle.

The dye sublimation process itself is based on heat diffusion, a dye-ribbon containing the three basic colors, yellow, magneta and cyan is heated and the vaporized dye is sublimated onto the paper. The color and its intensity is determined by what amount of heat the dye-ribbon is subjected to, this heat is generated by the thermal print head. The advantage of this process is the fact that a print is not made up of individual pixels, as with an inkjet printer, which makes the image appear far less pixelated, at least, in theory. Furthermore dye-sublimation printers print by continuous tone, whereas inkjet printers print by half tone, which means that pixels are stacked on top of each other to determine color density and different colors. Obviously we are wondering what kind of images the HiTi PhotoShuttle produces and whether these images are of similar quality as photostore or inkjet printouts.

1. Dye sublimation printing
2. HiTi PhotoShuttle photoprinter

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