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How to calibrate printer distortion

Some printers produce a small amount of image distortion on print out. It may be neglible when printing a single page but may hinder an alignment of multiple pages.

Print To Scale comes with a distortion correction utility that allows to correct some of the frequently occurring printer distortions — width and height scaling and trapezoid distortion. Obviously the correction can properly work only if your printer has this type of distortion and it repeats from page to page. The correction works by scaling an output image before printing to compensate the distortion.

The calibration procedure depends on how the paper is fed to printer. A large format printer with a regular size paper usually consumes paper sideways, this case is referred below as long edge feed printing.

Create a calibration page.

Start by creating an empty page with menu File->New with Blank Page.

Open Page Setup panel and check paper size corresponds to paper you are using. Set the orientation the same way the paper is fed to printer — for a regular printer and paper select the portrait orientation, for long edge feed select the landscape orientation.

Open Layout Setup panel. Make sure that the printer calibration is disabled and this section is grayed out. Then setup a grid that will be used to measure distortion: check Show grid, uncheck Show diagonal grid, and check Custom grid size. The size should be set so the grid covers as much of the page printable area as possible and is easy to measure with a ruler. For example, for A4 paper and metric units 1 cm is a appropriate and convenient value. Finally check Show scale arrow on print.

On the layout drag the scale arrow to the right side of the page so once it is printed it is easy to tell where is the right and where is the left page side.

The calibration page is now ready to be printed.

Measure distortion

After the calibration page is printed go to Layout Setup panel and check Enable printer scale calibration. For a long edge feed also check Long edge feed. W, L, R fields now can be measured and filled. Image at the left of the fields is a hint what page sides need to be measured. Each value W, L, R is calculated by the formula:

Value =
Ideal measurement
× 100%
Actual measurement

Where Actual measurement is what is measured on the paper by the ruler and Ideal measurement is the value expected from the selected grid size step. For example, …

Once the W, L, R values are entered check that the correction is working by printing the calibration page again and measuring the sides again. If everything is correct now the measurement should be close to their expected values.

The final step is to check whether the calibration is applied properly for the orientation alternate to that of a calibration page. It can be applied incorrectly because when an image is printed in the orientation other than the paper is fed to printer, the image rotated clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on printer or its configuration. To check the calibration is applied correctly, go to Page Setup and change the orientation. Now print and measure calibration page once again. If the measurements are wrong, change the value of the Flip L/R for alternate orientation check. Now the correction should work properly in both orientations.

Copyright 2010-2016 Alexander Boltnev, Olga Kacher.

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