There are a few details that can cause your Lumii print not to look its best. These fall into three categories.

  1. The top and bottom layers are misaligned
  2. The print was blurred, smudged, not dark enough, or otherwise doesn't faithfully reflect the content in the PDF
  3. The spacing between the layers is wrong

Here are some tips for figuring out what the problem is, and solving it.

The top and bottom layers are misaligned

It can be hard to know what you're looking for the first time you align a Lumii display. The short answer is, "you'll just know" when it's aligned. If there are no other problems with your print, there should be a remarkable difference between a properly aligned print and a misaligned print. Make sure your print can be properly aligned, and practice it a few times before you apply any glue.

Here are a couple shots of a card with the layers aligned (left) and misaligned (right). Notice how even when viewed up close, the patterns in the aligned card seem to look smoother and more regular.

You should also see some realistic changes as you move your head back and forth in front of the card. For example, the dark sides of the letters on the right should be visible when you move your head to the right. If the patterns look smooth but the letters seem to pop in instead of out, you have the top layer on the bottom and vice-versa.

Bad Prints

They say 

"It's the poor artist who blames his tools."

But also

"An artist is only as good as his tools."

So maybe it is the printer's fault, after all? The patterns on your holiday card encode all the information necessary to create a high-res 3D scene. If the patterns aren't represented faithfully in the document that comes out of the printer, then the 3D effect will be reduced or destroyed.

First, make sure you're following all the guidelines in the Printer Settings Tips section. Second, some printers are finicky about settings or just poorly made. It's one thing to print "1200dpi" on the side of a printer box, its a whole other thing to actually be able to print at 1200dpi, or even 300dpi on real media. There are quite a few ways to get it wrong, and we've seen most of them while trying to print on transparent media. That's why we included a little tool to help diagnose problems with your print. Many of the issues below can be improved by tweaking the settings in your print driver, or installing the print driver tools provided by your printer manufacturer. However, not every printer is up to the task. If you can't make it work on your home or office printer (try a couple different ones), you can always take a trip to FedEx to have them print your Lumii holiday cheer for you. You'll probably be the first person to print out a light field display at your local FedEx location!

Perfect! This is taken right out of the holiday card PDF. If your print looks like this, you have an amazing printer! The D and P have stripes at 300dpi, and the I has stripes at 600dpi.

Good. This is a low-end laser printer looking pretty great. The 300dpi stripes are visible and clean. The 600dpi stripes are blurred, but no aliasing has occurred. 95% sparkle power!

OK. This is an office copy machine. The vertical 300dpi stripes are pretty faint, and the vertical 600dpi stripes were aliased away. Lazy! But your Lumii print should still look fine. 90% sparkle power!

OK. This is a low-end inkjet at the highest quality. The 300dpi lines are resolvable with only a little ink bleed, and a few artifacts are visible. Perhaps the paper feeder is wearing out. It mixed in green ink, even though we told it not to — a trick to eek out more resolution — so the contrast is low. Bummer.

Marginal. This inkjet is using too much toner for the medium. Even the 300dpi lines are mostly blurred out. See if you can reduce the toner density, or change the media type (sometimes the best results aren't on the transparency setting). You'll probably still see something happen on the card but it will be less. 30% sparkle power.

Poor. The toner is not fusing properly to the transparency material. Rarely, but occasionally we have found that some laser printers will not cooperate with some transparency materials. Try changing materials. Depending on how badly this printed, you may or may not see any 3D effects.

Poor. This inkjet is dumping out too much ink for this transparency material. Or maybe you printed on the wrong side. Make sure the rough side is printed on, and try different material and resolution settings until you find one that looks more like the inkjet photo above. Again with the green ink... yeesh. This is a total fail.

Are you even serious. Believe it or not this was printed on the same printer as above with different settings (the printer default). The settings matter! Here we got only black ink, but the resolution is so poor that its a lost cause. Don't despair! You should be able to find some settings that dramatically improve performance on most inkjets.

Poor. The image is scaled improperly. Check that you are printing the correct resolution file (600dpi vs 720dpi) and that your printer is set to scale at 100%, crop to fit, or scale None.

And another thing... We also placed a ruler in the document. If the document is scaled properly, the 1in and 1cm rules will be exactly one inch and 1cm. If they're off, there's a problem.
 

Marginal. This print was made by FedEx. It's good in the vertical direction but marginal in the horizontal direction. FedEx prints are very cheap (75¢/page) and you definitely see a 3D effect. Don't let them scale the document, they really really want to!

Marginal. This print was made by FedEx. It's good in the vertical direction but marginal in the horizontal direction. FedEx prints are very cheap (75¢/page) and you definitely see a 3D effect. Don't let them scale the document, they really really want to!

Great! This was printed at Staples. The quality is great, and the price was $2.38+tax for us. The 3D effect looks wonderful. The transparency sheets are very thin, so be sure to put extra spacers in there. Get extra (letter, A4) spacer sheets or just cut blanks.

Layer Spacing

Not every transparency sheet is the same thickness. We've seen quite a range from just two or three thousandths of an inch to about ten thousandths. While your Lumii holiday printout has room for two spacer rectangles, in practice thinner transparency material will need more than two spacers.

If your 3D card is looking pretty flat even though your print quality looks good, then try adding one or two more layers of transparency material to your stack between the top and bottom patterns. We've prepared a handy sheet for you to print out if you want to be neat. Get the letter version here and the A4 version here. Otherwise, feel free to cut out some appropriately sized spacers free-hand.

If instead your card looks really 3D, but the image goes away when you move the card just a little, you can trade in some of that shiny pop-out effect for a wider viewing zone (called field-of-view, or FOV). You can do this by taking one spacer out (take-one-out, or TOO).

Still can't get it?

If you're at your wit's end, give us a holler at help@lumiidisplay.com. We can't promise we can solve your problem, but we know a good therapist.