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Thursday, May 24, 2007

High-End Printers For Your Studio

The current generation of professional-level inkjet printers can give your studio a steady stream of lucrative print business

Ink Choices
Inkjet printing today comes in two flavors—dye-based, which is the more traditional method, and pigment-based, which has numerous advantages in use, but still trails dye in some areas. Depending on your printing needs, this is the first choice to make when choosing a large-format printer.

Until this year, there really were no choices in large-format printing—if you wanted pigment ink, you went with Epson. If you wanted dye inks, you had your choice of a wide field, including Canon, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Roland and others.

At their most basic, inkjet printers are CMYK devices, even though the data we send to them is RGB. They all use cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink. Photo printers typically add a light cyan and light magenta to the mix to extend the color reproduction range. In an effort to improve the quality of prints, many manufacturers are extending these color sets to include primary colors and additional shades of black or gray.

It's not a simple question of just buying dye or pigment inks for your printer either. Each type requires a different print method and delivery system. Dye-based printers from Canon and HP use thermal transfer to blast a drop of ink onto the page. The print head quickly heats and cools, which forces a bubble of ink out of each nozzle (hence the term “BubbleJet”). Epson uses a different method, Piezo, to accomplish the same thing. By sending an electric charge to a small crystal, the crystal flexes and ejects a drop of ink. Each print head, regardless of the technology, contains hundreds of nozzles, providing fast prints. Thermal heads are user-replaceable, in theory giving the printer a longer usable life and fewer problems with ink clogging than Piezo-based printers.




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