Beware Of Cheap Acrylic Prints
Ok maybe beware is a bit strong, but the old adage holds true in print just like any other industry. You generally get what you pay for. We’ve heard all the horror stories from customers that have come to us over the years of missed deadlines, inferior quality and awful customer support. If you’re looking for cheap acrylic prints, you won’t find them here, but what you will get are quite a few resources (including this post), to help navigate the waters of the printing industry (and in particular the acrylic prints industry). Our focus at Bumblejax isn’t racing to the bottom of cheapest and fastest, but producing a high quality product and experience every single time.
We get it .. face-mounted gallery quality acrylic prints aren’t cheap and may not fit into a budget so a cheaper version may be a better option. Just know that the cheaper you go in this industry, the more due diligence you should do and hopefully this guide provides a starting point for researching the print house that will be doing the work. If the due diligence isn’t done, you might find it far more expensive to go cheap than paying a bit more on the first go.
It’s no secret that the economy is increasingly global with a race to see who can produce it faster and cheaper, albeit with sacrificing some quality along the way. The print industry, once immune to that, continues to evolve into one that is based on outsourcing in volume (aka faster, cheaper) as shipping delivery times begin to drop for worldwide shipping. Print on demand is slowly (although there will always be a market for high end local printing) leaving the US just like many manufacturing jobs have. More companies are mass producing prints in China & India and shipping to the US market and this is NEVER obvious and may not even be revealed if asked. This is why it’s important to look at ALL online reviews (see below) and consult the photography and print forums.
We’re all for competition as it keeps us on our toes! The challenge becomes getting in front of customers who may not fully understand the differences in how acrylic prints are made and to educate them so they can make an informed decision on what company to use. Frankly, it can get exhausting explaining the reasons for dramatic price differences not only between companies, but variations of acrylic prints within companies (so many ways to produce these).
While you can get a look at our detailed acrylic prints buyers guide here which details questions to ask about how the acrylic print is made, we’d like to review a few key starter questions to ask the company before you dig into how their acrylic print is made.
- Do you produce your prints in-house? If not, where are they produced?
Making beautiful prints without a doubt requires ongoing quality control and this is difficult if outsourced .. even more difficult if outsourced outside the USA and shipped back to the USA. They may not reveal where they are made but it’s worth asking.
- Look at ALL company reviews online.
Be wary of any reviews that aren’t gathered by a 3rd party review service. For example, you will see canvas companies selling acrylic prints with many thousands of great reviews. Check reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Google & the BBB for confirmation as these tend to be more reflective of the company and can either confirm or contradict the other reviews. Dig a little deeper into reviews and you’ll find the true story. It’s also important to see if they respond to bad customer reviews which shows a willingness to resolve issues.
- What is average shipping time?
Keep in mind that companies shipping from overseas facilities into the US can be hung up in customs for weeks. We have seen this many times from customers that can come to us and it’s a nightmare for those that need quality prints on time for important shows, as gifts, client meetings, etc.
- Prices often tell the story.
If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Any company offering rock bottom prices can do so because inferior components are used, cheap China and India labor is used and/or proper file preparation and quality checks aren’t implemented. It’s really as simple as that. Again, that’s not to say you can’t luck out and get a decent product here and there, but eventually, it could come back to bite you. Generally, in terms of pricing you will see acrylic prints in three price tiers – the gallery quality face mounted acrylic prints at the top, followed by direct to acrylic printing (ink infused into acrylic) by reputable labs producing them in the USA and then the rock bottom direct to acrylic pricing.
- Call them, email them, live chat with them.
Does someone respond within a few hours max? Are they knowledgeable about printing and how the products are produced? Simply ask the company what printers they use, what color profiles are accepted, if they color calibrate and how often, what kind of acrylic is used, etc. A good print lab should be able to answer those questions quickly and thoroughly.
- What is the TRUE satisfaction guaranteed policy?
In other words, every company touts their 100% happy or satisfaction guarantee and then when something happens you have to jump through hoops, accept store credit, or return the product with expensive shipping charges. This happens a lot in this industry. So how to know? It goes back to the online reviews. Look at all review sources not just the ones listed on the website and single out the bad reviews. Does the company respond to those? Is there a theme to those reviews?
- How long have they been in business and how long have you been producing the acrylic prints?
This is another important question to ask. We’ve been in the acrylic prints industry for nearly a decade now so have seen it all. We have seen companies come and go, seen big companies discontinue the product, etc.
Hopefully, this guide for vetting a print company to produce your acrylic prints along with our detailed guide on what to look for in the manufacturing of these prints provide you all you need to get a great product and great experience (we hope you’ll consider us!). It’s sad to say, but unfortunately, there are far more print labs out there focused on fast and cheap rather than viewing it as an art form to be perfected where the customer is truly valued. For more info on Bumblejax created acrylic prints.