• Twitter Updates

    The Forgotten Printing Variable: Paper | Cartridge Save Blog

    The Forgotten Printing Variable: Paper | Cartridge Save Blog.

    By: James Murray in How To

    Paper coming out of printerThe type of paper you use can have a big effect on your printing results

    Of all the factors that define the quality of your printer’s output, the one that is most often overlooked is probably paper.

    There is a vast array of paper out there — specialist, photo paper, textured paper, glossy paper, and all at different quality levels. There are papers marketed for individual uses and specific printers. Some will fade in a few weeks while others will last for decades. How do you decide?

    The first part of your decision is easy; are you buying paper for a laser printer, or an inkjet?

    Laser printers

    Laser printers are not fussy. They are capable, in theory at least, of printing on just about any surface that will make it through the machine’s paper path. The office standard, photocopier paper that you find in convenience stores and supermarkets is perfectly fine for a laser printer.

    Lasers do have problems with thicker paper, though. At grades (or weights) over about one hundred and sixty grams per square meter, heavier papers are going to cause more jams in a laser printer’s tortuous paper path. There is also paper on the market that carries a layer of plastic on its surface, and you can just imagine what the plastic is likely to do inside a laser printer: melt. Let’s not even think about it, shall we?

    There is special paper on the market for laser printers. It is just a little thicker than photocopier paper, with a slightly glossy surface. While the printer’s output will be exactly the same, it will look and feel of a higher quality.

    Inkjet printers

    Inkjets are different. Paper can and will make an enormous difference in the appearance and durability of the printouts that emerge from your inkjet printer. If you have been using an inkjet for years, then you have undoubtedly observed this yourself. A lot of inkjet users have no idea why this happens.

    Consider first the type of ink you’re using. Check the packaging. The dye-based ink designed for most photo printers isn’t meant to stay on the surface, but instead to get absorbed into the paper. That keeps colours from mingling and maintains images pricisely the way they were intended, with the different elements sharply defined. Dye-based ink, printed on normal paper, tends to pool and run, with the result that images will look fuzzy and letterforms sloppy. They will also look dull because dried ink is not as shiney as the paper’s glossy surface.

    The other type of inkjet ink, pigmented, avoids this problem, but the colours will be less vivid. This type of ink will also produce more of a matted look. The general rule is this: Use pigmented ink for printing text on normal paper and dye-based ink for printing photographs on special paper.

    The next decision to make is about the grade of the paper, or its weight. If you just want to archive some forms or routine business correspondence, then you can get away with standard copier paper, which has a grade of seventy-five to eighty grams per square metre. If on the other hand you are printing ads or greeting cards with an inkjet printer, then you will want to consider inkjet paper, which has a weight of niney to one hundred grams per square metre. That will include some brighteners, but also special layers to keep the ink from running.

    If you are printing display advertising or brochures with high-definition colour photographs, then you need glossy, photo paper. If you want even higher quality, then there is fine art paper, which you can expect to endure for decades. Of course, one thing it is not going to be is cheap. Expect to pay a pound per sheet of standard, A3-size paper and more.

    Considering the planet

    There are those among us who want to consider the environment as well as the appearance of their printer’s product. For these people there are products like recycled paper and “virgin fibre” paper, whose pulp comes from sustainable forestry. These environmentally-sound papers also have no bleach, which in turn means lower contrast than what you will see from mainstream paper.

    Finally, consider the advice given by your printer’s manufacturer. (On the other hand, you can safely ignore that manufacturer’s branded paper — you don’t really believe HP and Canon make paper, do you?)

    Finding the best paper for your printer and your work means reading labels, keeping a few of these pointers in mind and then experimenting on your own.

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google photo

    You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s

    %d bloggers like this: