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Welcome to the DT&G Design and Creative Department - Design Topic: Paper

Choosing The Right Paper for Ink Jet Printing, Benjamin Frank,

__ In ink jet printing both the paper/media chosen for printings and the print settings chosen on the printer are critical in the production of the best output. If the wrong paper or settings are used, ink can flow away from where it initially lands, causing the image to appear blurry or washed out. If not properly controlled, the ink can wick along paper fibers much like water wicks into a paper towel or wax climbs the wick of a candle.
__ This can make the drops look "hairy". If the dots are fuzzy, the text will appear less sharp and detail may be lost in pictures or photographs. If, instead of absorbing properly, the ink does not absorb fast enough, it can pool on the surface. This can cause adjacent colors to bleed together. Again, the image will be blurred. Both of these problems are due to improper paper/printer interactions, and can be fixed by choosing the right paper. (see the photo again)
__ There are many attributes of a good ink jet paper. First, for the reasons stated above it should reduce the wicking and color bleed in the print. Additionally, a good paper should be bright. Artists paint on bright papers to get good contrast and accurate colors, and the same principle applies to ink jet printing. Further, your eye only perceives the color that is near the surface of the paper. If the ink goes through to the back of the sheet and carries the dyes there, the color will not be seen when you look at the front. Thus, a good paper should keep as much of the color as possible on the surface to provide good "print density". Finally, since the dyes come from a water based solution, they have a tendency to move around on the page when if the sheet gets wet. A good paper should provide some water resistance to the image and should also keep the image from fading. All of these attributes, reduced wicking and bleed, intense colors, good contrast, and waterfast and lightfast prints, depend strongly on the paper you use for printing.
__ With that in mind, we can examine the different types of paper and understand why they result in the images they produce.
Multipurpose/Dual Use Paper:
This kind of paper is not the best choice for ink jet printing because it is not optimized to accept the ink. The ink may bead up or run during printing because it is not well absorbed, or it may be absorbed too quickly or spread too much. The former may lead to wicking and bleed; the latter will dilute the image since the dyes are carried away from the surface where you want them.

Plain (Uncoated) Ink Jet Paper:
Plain ink jet paper is specially designed to absorb ink properly and reduce wicking and bleed. However, the paper still absorbs all the ink and the color goes everywhere the liquid goes. Thus, some of the dye is absorbed into the body of the sheet and is not near the surface. While the image is clear and crisp, the colors may not be as bold or bright as possible since you lose some of the color during the absorption of the ink.
Coated Ink Jet Paper:
Coated ink jet paper is structured just like plain ink jet paper, with the addition of a coating layer on top of the paper. This layer traps the dye as the ink is absorbed. Since the coating is on the surface, this keeps most of the color on the surface, resulting in a bolder, more vibrant image.
Additionally, a good coating has the ability to fix the dyes in place, so that they do not fade as rapidly and will not run or bleed if the paper is lightly rewet.

Glossy Ink Jet Paper:
Glossy ink jet paper is also coated. However, between the coating and the paper is usually a layer (often plastic) which prevents the ink from penetrating through to the paper. All the ink (and all the color) stays on the surface where your eye can see it.
This also increases the time it takes for the print to dry, and so most printers will slow down when set the printer to glossy paper. (The same is true for transparencies which do not absorb the ink.)

Next: Matching Papers, Resources. . .


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