The honest truth about whether it’s worth it to try and make DIY Engineering Prints for your craft and home decor projects!
This post is not sponsored, all opinions are my own! Cute photo by Cadence & Eli photography
DIY Engineering Prints for crafts and home decor are one of the biggest Pinterest trends of the last few years. I’m sure you’ve seen the pins where bloggers print giant black and white pictures of their children or a beautiful abstract landscape for only a couple dollars. Then they frame or hang these huge images and they look SO amazing in their perfectly designed living room. It seems like a great idea…but is it?
What is the truth about DIY Engineering Prints?
The truth is…you guys…they’re on to us.
Like any good money saving hack or trendy secret craft/home decor supply workaround, when too many people start using it, well, it stops being a super secret, I-can’t-believe-I-didn’t-think-of-that great idea and businesses get wise to the trend.
And once business are wise to the trend…well, it’s not going to be easy anymore.
While there are still tons and tons of articles on how to print engineering print photos floating around, the truth is, many print shops won’t let you do it anymore. More and more people are reporting back that when they took their photo to be printed on the large format engineering print/ blueprint printer, the print shop refused.
Most of the time they say it’s because these printers are only intended for line drawings or blueprints and photos use up too much toner and cost them too much money. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s really the truth?
Or maybe the truth is that they’d much rather that you use their large format photo printer which they can charge the big bucks for. I kind of suspect it’s the latter. Which of course is their prerogative.
Either way, there’s a chance that if you try to print your own DIY engineering prints, they might say no.
In fact, I was recently testing this out and tried to upload my own images to make engineering prints on the OfficeDepot website and I discovered that they have added a feature that automatically looks at the ratio of black to white in the file that you upload to the engineering print section. If there’s too much black in the image, they will not allow you to even to order the print. They redirect you right over to “Posters”.
I told you, they’re on to us.
My prints did upload on the Staples website though, and my local store called me a few hours later to let me know they were ready to pick up. I think they look great.
So some people say Staples will still do it and some people say they won’t. It seems to vary by location.
In the meantime, if you still want DIY engineering prints for cheap, I have some advice…
Tips and Tricks for Getting Good DIY Engineering Prints for Cheap
- Be nice. You know that saying, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”? Yeah, that applies to people and businesses who you want to do things for you too.
- Upload your photos online and choose the “pick up in store” option rather than bringing your files in to the store on a flash drive. Anecdotally, many people are saying this ups the likelihood of your prints being printed without a problem. Maybe they’re less likely to be manually reviewed by an employee?
- Make sure your image is bright and light and has as much white space as possible. Seriously, don’t push your luck by trying to print a dark image.
- Make sure your image is high resolution. By nature, large format engineering print printers don’t have a very high dpi (that means the resolution or the number of dots of ink per inch of the print isn’t as good as a photo printer) but you still need to make sure the resolution of your image is high enough to get the best possible result (aim for at least 200 ppi on your computer). Don’t try and blow up a 3″ x 5″ photo to 18″ x 24″.
- Manage your expectations. Engineering prints are approximately the quality of a photocopy, they really look best from across the room. Bloggers who are using them in craft and home decor projects are using them as a kind of minimalist, modern, artsy kind of image. They are also printed on regular, lightweight paper. If you’re expecting a photo quality print on a nice stiff paper stock, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re looking for bright, light, artistic and a little abstract, well then you’ll be ok!
What to do if the print shop refuses to print my DIY engineering print?
If you try and print a DIY engineering print at Staples, for example, and they say no, your first option is to try another store location. That might work, it might not.
You can also try your local print/copy shop. Sometimes small business owners are more accommodating to local customers because they care if you come back.
If neither of those options work, then you can have your engineering print printed at Parabo Press. They’ll do it for sure. But be aware, you’ll have to pay shipping AND well, to be honest, this company is totally on to us too.
They’re charging trendy Pinterest-influenced prices for engineering prints (again, smart business strategy and their prerogative). So you won’t get a screaming deal, but you WILL get your print printed, so it’s a good option to have if someone else says no or you don’t live near a Staples store. They also sell framing and hanging accessories just for this kind of print which is pretty cool.
How do you frame a DIY engineering print?
- Start out with your print and a thin piece of wood trim from the home improvement store.
- Measure, mark, and cut the trim to be about 1/2″ longer than the width of your print. Stain is optional.
- Glue the top and bottom edges of the engineering print to the back of the trim pieces.
- Then glue a piece of twine to the top to hang your DIY engineering print.
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