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The Power of Paper: What the Right Paper Can Do for You
Many assume that purchasing specialty inkjet paper will naturally increase production costs.
While the cost of the paper is a factor, it needs to be evaluated within the entire production process. Other factors, like the potential ink usage, the print platform, operational efficiency, and the requirements of the finished print project, will often have a greater influence on the final project cost and ROI.
By strategically evaluating your choice of paper as well as the other project elements, you can better predict and control your results.
A Look at Inkjet Papers
As paper companies have specialized their offerings to meet the needs of the market, there is now a wide variety of papers to choose from. Options for paper include:
- Untreated: Multipurpose substrates designed to print and postprocess, without unique additives to augment print performance.
- Treated: Designed to affix specific ink sets to uncoated paper, utilizing chemistry to optimize the printed image of an uncoated substrate.
- Surface treated: Engineered blends of proprietary additives that boost the synergy of the ink and paper interface, elevating print performance.
- Fully coated: Deploys a technical engineered coating to impart desired surface characteristics, quality of image and durability, while expanding the range of surface finish options from matte to silk and gloss.
The paper chosen for a project can enhance functionality, optimize image quality, and boost end-to-end performance. It’s important to evaluate the needs of the entire print project alongside the capabilities of the paper and the production process.
Considerations When Selecting Inkjet Paper
There are several additional factors that should be considered when selecting inkjet paper:
- Print platform: Each platform will perform differently depending on the paper selected.
- OEM pre-screening of media: OEM experience with a specific product may offer a custom profile as a starting point, helping to optimize the output.
- Post processing and converting: The demands of the post printing processes are a fundamental criteria. The paper must be robust enough to convert. Printing is the first hurdle, but papers have to be robust enough to convert.
- Paper and ink interaction: The physical and functional properties of the paper will influence the ink-paper interface. The chemical reaction with the ink impacts the overall image quality and durability. Papers are interchangeable, but no two are exactly alike. Testing and ongoing runnability are the best practice.
- Smoothness: Surface topography of the paper will affect printing results and downstream handling.
- Shade: Ink color on the paper is influenced by the color, or shade, of the paper.
- Ancillary production sites: Does the paper manufacturer have the capability to produce the product on more than one asset.
There are benefits to recognizing and incorporating the special features and functional properties of the paper selected for an inkjet project. Not all papers are created equal. With an understanding of the fundamental properties of the paper, the chemistry of the printing process, the requirements of the print platform, and the demands of the final converting processes you can deliver higher-quality results, with optimized efficiencies, while minimizing exorbitant and unnecessary costs.
When you leverage the science of paper with inkjet technology, you’ll see dynamic print with outstanding results. Contact your paper supplier to discuss the paper properties, print platform and ink set before making a final paper selection.
Tina Moylan is the Director, Specialty Inkjet Products, at Pixelle Specialty Solutions, the largest and fastest-growing manufacturer of specialty papers in North America. Tina leads Pixelle's product portfolio development and growth strategies for inkjet printable substrates.