I’ve been getting fine art Giclée prints done for a while now, for special orders, whereby my customer needs a true mat archive print. Giclée prints are not cheap so these are only specialist orders. Giclée means “sprayed”, in effect it means fancy inkjet prints. The machines often have extra blacks and tones you don’t get in home printers and the inks are pigment based. This means light-fast and long life prints. Couple this with Acid-Free archive papers and you get a quality product.
I’ve noted a high degree or variation in the Giclée printing market.
Wikipedia sums it up:-
It is often used by artists, galleries, and print shops to denote high quality printing but since it is an unregulated word it has no associated warranty of quality.
Depending on the size of the organisation and what printers they have available and what paper is available the products and services will differ.
One company explained that the printing process for a fixed A4 sheet meant you could only get 280mm x 204mm of the 297mm x 210mm area printed? That means you don’t get prints edge to edge. In contrast, another company I spoke to didn’t use fixed sheet sizes and printed from a roll. Thus printing to the size you required that was not limited by the sheet size and printing area. If you required An A4 they just supplied a slice from the roll.
Trying to get double sided prints also has its headaches too. You can only get a certain paper in double-sided and not necessarily on a roll. This will limit your size or print again and cost goes up for double-sided alignment and double the ink.
I would guess anyone who offers this service could explain what they do very easily but don’t assume all the companies that do offer Giclée printing work the same way.
It is a good way to get long life, quality images, that look mat and authentic to those old fashioned wet processed prints.