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Massive Media

Sep 1, 2006 12:00 AM

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Substrates for wide-format inkjet printers include glossy photo-quality stock, adhesive-backed vinyl, watercolor paper and a multitude of printable fabrics. Both printer and RIP manufacturers offer media, as do some papermakers specializing in acid-free archival media for fine art reproductions.

Many users buy their inkjet printer and paper from the same vendor. Agfa, Canon, CGS, Creo, DuPont, Epson, Heidelberg, HP, Kodak, MacDermid ColorSpan, Océ, Pantone, Roland and 3M all offer a variety of substrates. Hahnemühle FineArt or Lyson are popular choices for fine art reproductions (giclée prints).

From proofing to vehicle graphics, inkjet media is among the most diverse set of substrates in the industry. We've collected a group of the latest to hit the market. Find more wide-format inkjet printing articles online at

Fine art and backlit displays

BF Inkjet Media, Inc., (Fayetteville, GA) offers a variety of wide-format inkjet papers for signs, banners, posters and fine art reproduction. BF's backlight-capable Digital Watercolor paper is a premium-quality synthetic watercolor paper with an exceptional spun web construction. Designed to look and feel like watercolor paper, it will not cockle and exhibits far less roll memory. The white eggshell finish of this product is reminiscent of silk, with a soft color palette and pearlescent finish. The paper has a polymeric nontoxic coating and a 92 brightness rating (105 whiteness). It is compatible with pigment or dye-based inks, with pigment showing a higher resistance to ultraviolet light. The 11.5-mil caliper paper (181.9 g/m2) comes in a range of roll sizes from 36 to 60 inches wide.
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Proof, print, profit

Canon (Lake Success, NY) offers a wide range of Branded Specialty Media for fine art and photo reproduction, including canvas, velvet, photo rag, and cobranded Hahnemuhle papers. All of Canon's large-format Branded Specialty Media are tested and qualified to work on the company's imagePROGRAF printers, including the new 12-color imagePROGRAF printers with LUCIA ink.
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Specialty substrates

DaVinci Technologies (East Windsor, CT), a division of High-Tech Conversions, is introducing a new line of wide-format print media. DaVinci Technologies focuses on specialized coated substrates such as Fine Art Giclee, Pressure Sensitive Vinyl, Photographic Paper and several banner materials that are available in 24-, 36-, 42-, 50- and 60-inch widths. DaVinci's specially formulated coating is designed to ensure a wide color gamut and is compatible with both dye and pigment ink.
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New proofing papers

Fujifilm has made a new line of media for inkjet proofing devices available in the United States through Enovation Graphic Systems, Inc. (Valhalla, NY). The Fujifilm media includes a glossy and a satin finish, both of which have been thoroughly tested with the full line of Fujifilm Epson Stylus Pro inkjet proofing devices, reportedly resulting in an excellent match to both commercial and publication standards. The paper is available in widths from 17 inches to 44 inches, to accommodate two-, four- and eight-page proofing.


  • Micro-porous ink receptive.
  • Single-side ink receptive.
  • 240 micron/9.4 mil (ISO 0534).
  • Glossy/satin finish on a resin-coated paper.
  • Immediate curing time.
    Circle 173 or visit

Media for color-critical proofing

GMG Media (Tuebingen, Germany) is a range of proofing-specific media for most popular inkjet printers. They are manufactured to high tolerances for color-critical applications, available in a range of sizes for both pigment- and dye-based ink types, and are guaranteed to less than 1 delta E color difference between rolls, boxes and batches.
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Photo, proofing and more

Hewlett-Packard (Palo Alto, CA) offers a full range of wide-format inkjet substrates for graphic arts applications. HP film includes erasable, polyester, high-gloss, matte, clear or transparent film. HP photographic papers include high-gloss, semi-gloss, matte, durable image gloss UV and productivity instant dry. The company offers a variety of proofing choices with gloss, semi-gloss, matte and satin finishes. HP also offers backlit materials and a variety of self-adhesive products including coated paper, vinyl, polypropylene and polyester film. HP banner and sign substrate comes in scrim, Tyvek, polypropylene and other materials. The company offers fabrics as well as fine art papers and canvas.
Circle 175 or visit

Fine art, photo paper

InteliCoat Technologies (South Hadley, MA) introduces Magiclée Torino 21M, a matte finish, pH neutral artist stretch canvas designed for long-term, fade-resistant fine art or photo reproductions when imaged with pigmented inks. It is a premium heavyweight, 21-mil poly/cotton canvas with universal matte inkjet coating, for production art and photo printing with aqueous pigment and piezo printers. The coating provides the added bonus of water resistance when printed with UV inks. Torino 21M is compatible with most dye-based inks for short-term indoor reproductions. It is available in a range from 24 to 50 inches wide.
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Full range of wide-format papers

Kodak's Graphic Communications Group (Rochester, NY) offers a portfolio of photographic paper, photographic film, coated media, vinyl and canvas for wide-format printing. Kodak products are compatible with printers including HP, Epson, Canon, Kodak and Encad. The substrates accept UV or dye-based inks and are backed by a performance guarantee. Kodak media is guaranteed against fading, cracking and bleeding when used with specified wide-format printer and ink combinations.
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Photo papers

LexJet's (Sarasota, FL) line of photo papers now includes the 11-mil Sunset Photo eSatin 300g and Sunset Photo Gloss 300g. Both products feature instant dry coating, scratch resistance, expansive color gamut and outstanding ink retention characteristics, according to LexJet product manager Alex Ried. Sunset Photo eSatin has a traditional E surface finish. The papers are compatible with dye- and pigment-based inks. They are available in sheet sizes from 8.5 × 11 inches to 17 × 22 inches, and standard and custom sizes from 17 to 60 inches wide in 100-ft. rolls (three-inch cores).

Lexjet has announced plans to offer its customers the full line of MacDermid ColorSpan printers, expanding Lexjet's UV curable printer offering. MacDermid ColorSpan offers UV-curable, solvent and aqueous solutions, as well as grand-format, flatbed and hybrid printing platforms.
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All-purpose inkjet media

The MACtac (Stow, OH) IMAGin line of wide-format digital media is available in widths from 24 to 79 inches in matte or gloss finishes, as well as permanent or removable adhesive. MACtac has issued a new sell sheet and swatch book for the series, detailing the features and benefits of the JT5000 series solvent/UV inkjet media and the JT 1000 series water-based inkjet media. A chart of products, roll sizes, durability and material details is included. MACtac recently partnered with TUNEDColor Inc. (Philadelphia) to provide MACtac customers with ICC profiling of MACtac's IMAGin wide-format digital media. Additionally, MACtac and TUNEDColor Inc. will work together to provide on-site color management and workflow support to qualified customers.
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Semigloss proofing paper

Mitsubishi Imaging (MPM), Inc., (Rye, NY) has expanded its inkjet media product line with GF6, a new semigloss proofing paper designed to be used with Epson's UltraChrome inks. GF6 has a semigloss surface similar to the most popular offset printing papers, enabling it to more accurately represent the printed press sheet. It has an instant-dry coating and is available in 13 × 19-inch cut sheets as well as in rolls 17, 24, 36 and 44 inches wide. With 92 percent brightness and thickness of 7.5 mil, GF6 offers water resistance so proofs can be handled as soon as they are printed.
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Instant-dry media

Océ's (Chicago) Pro-Select line of instant-dry media is designed for 17- to 60-inch photo and proofing printers, including models from Océ, Epson, Canon and HP. The line includes four films, three photo papers and one proofing paper. The media include: Océ Pro-Select 7 mil Pop-Up Film with Grayback, Océ Pro-Select 5 mil PET White Film, Océ Pro-Select 5 mil Premium Backlit Film, Océ Pro-Select 5 mil Premium Clear Film, Océ Pro-Select 9 mil Proofing Paper, Océ Pro-Select 10 mil Satin Photopaper, Océ Pro-Select 10 mil Glossy Photopaper and Océ Pro-Select 9 mil Portrait Surface Photopaper. Océ Pro-Select Pop-Up Film and Océ Pro-Select Premium Clear Film are available now.
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Proofing paper

Pictorico's DCP4 is a premium glossy bright white sheet, and DCM is a coated matte finish, publication-grade sheet. Both reportedly have excellent color stability and are compatible with dye- and pigment-based inks. Additionally, the papers feature low metamerism for reduced color misinterpretation in varying lighting conditions while still delivering the look and feel of actual press-printed material. The line is available from Enovation Graphic Systems, Inc. (Valhalla, NY).
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Maximize print quality

Xerox (Stamford, CT) offers a line of wide-format paper and specialty media specifically designed to maximize print quality on wide-format color inkjet printers including the Xerox 8160 and 8142. The line consists of more than 30 products including photo papers, films, banners, canvas, and presentation and poster papers used by graphic arts professionals to create materials such as posters, signs, banners and point-of-purchase displays.
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Contract and imposition proofing

Xitron (Ann Arbor, MI) is entering the inkjet media market with TotalProof Media in a variety of roll sizes from 17 to 44 inches wide. Targeted to meet the proofing needs of commercial printers, X1 Proofing Media is high-quality stock for press and contract proofs, while X2 General Purpose Media, a matte stock, will be used primarily for imposition or non-color-critical jobs. The company also will provide profiles for a variety of proofing engines driven by Xitron RIPs and workflow solutions, including Navigator GPS and Xenith, initially focusing on Epson's Ultrachrome and Ultrachrome K3 printers.
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One-year anniversary

Pitman Co. launched its (Totowa, NJ) Wide Format Graphics Division in September 2005. Headed by Barry Budwit, it is focused on supporting companies producing indoor/outdoor signage, display graphics, banners, fleet graphic, and exhibit graphics. The company has developed a portfolio of products from top manufacturers that includes banner, laminate, mounting board, paper, vinyl, scrim vinyl and textile substrates for wide-format inkjet printing.
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Everything sounds better in French

“Giclée” often is used when referring to high-end digital inkjet prints. Artist Jack Duganne is credited with coining the term in 1991.

According to Harald Johnson, author of “Mastering Digital Printing,” Duganne was writing copy for a mailing piece promoting California artist Diane Bartz' work.

Duganne turned to a French dictionary for inspiration. “He focused on the nozzle,” writes Johnson. “In French, that was le gicleur. What inkjet nozzles do is spray ink, so looking up French verbs for ‘to spray’ he found gicler, which literally means ‘to squirt, spurt, or spray.’ The feminine noun version of the verb is (la) giclée, or ‘that which is sprayed or squirted.’”

Duganne has established his own studio, Duganne Ateliers. See

Inkjet 101

If all inkjet engines were identical, you could simply evaluate them based on price and output dimensions. But distinguishing features include inksets, dye/pigment and ink delivery systems.

Inksets traditionally have been cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK), but many newer printers utilize six-color inksets, featuring light cyan and light magenta in addition to the standard process colors. Light black (gray) is the defining characteristic of most seven-color inksets, which often are described using the acronym CcMmYKk; the lower-case letters denoting the lighter colors. Including the lighter shades allows the device to extend its tonal range further into the highlight range, for more pleasing pastel colors. (Because yellow is such a difficult color for the human eye to distinguish, no manufacturer supplements its inkset with light yellow.) Roland and MacDermid ColorSpan both offer inksets that include orange and green; the DisplayMaker printers from ColorSpan are even available with 12-color inksets that include red and blue.

Dye vs. pigment remains a hotly debated topic. While dyes have a longer legacy within the proofing marketplace and are typically less expensive, many buyers are intrigued by new pigmented inks.

Continuous flow, thermal drop-on-demand and piezoelectric drop-on-demand are the three main types of inkjet delivery systems.

Nearly 20 years ago, Scitex IRIS proofers introduced the graphic arts world to continuous-flow imaging, pumping a nonstop stream of ink through a specially shaped nozzle that turned the stream into a series of droplets. These droplets could then be selectively aimed at the substrate or into a waste gutter by use of a charging tunnel.

A more recent introduction, the drop-on-demand concept, forces small droplets of ink through a tiny slot in a nozzle plate. Piezoelectric devices physically squeeze the chamber to force release of the ink, while thermal devices heat the chamber until the resulting expansion produces a droplet from the nozzle.

Regardless of how the droplet is produced, eventually it will land on the paper's surface. How much (or how little) ink can be addressed to each specific location plays a significant role in determining the apparent resolution of the printer. When comparing the specifications for two devices, remember that an increase in the addressability (resolution number) should be accompanied by a corresponding decrease in the droplet volume.
— Hal Hinderliter, “Inkjet proofing update,” October 2003

Dye vs. pigment inks

What's the difference between dye and pigment inkjet inks? Dye inks are completely dissolved colorants in an aqueous or solvent carrier. (Think of Tang dissolved in water.) Pigment inks are suspended crystalline solids in an aqueous or solvent carrier. (Think of sand stirred in water.)

Dye inks are water-soluble. They penetrate the paper's surface and chemically bond with swellable polymers. Dye inks are compatible with a wide range of substrates but, unlike pigment inks, aren't water resistant.

Pigment inks aren't water soluble — they sit on a paper's surface. Pigment inks offer greater stability than dye inks but generally have a smaller gamut and narrower range of media compatibility.
— Troy Buccini, director of color and media graphics, Mid-State Graphics (

The IRIS 3047 rocks on

Many printers made proofs on IRIS printers, but few people made history with them. Graham Nash did.

Nash, best known as a founding member of the rock group Crosby Stills & Nash, has been a serious photographer since childhood. In 1989, Tokyo's Parco Gallery invited him to exhibit 35 photos in groups of 34 × 46-inch prints.

At the time, IRIS printers were used strictly for proofing. Working with a team of photographers and artists, Nash experimented with the printer and ultimately used it to create 1,750 large-scale photos for the exhibit.

Several years later, Nash joined with Mac Holbert to launch Nash Editions (Manhattan Beach, CA) a fine art digital printmaking studio. In 1989 Nash Editions bought an IRIS 3047 and used it until December 31, 2004. Current output equipment includes an Epson 9800.

In 2005, Nash Editions donated its IRIS printer to the National Museum of American History's photographic collection.

“The IRIS printer will stand as a symbol of change within the world of professional digital photography,” said the museum's director, Brent D. Glass. “Nash Editions' contributions, as well as an earlier acquisition from photographer John Paul Caponigro, are excellent examples of where art, science and technology meet to produce wonderful objects and influence a whole medium.”

The photographic history collection, begun by the Smithsonian in 1896, is the first collection of photography in a U.S. museum, and holds 12,000 pieces of photographic equipment and 200,000 images. See

Graph Expo features free wide-format seminars

Visitors to this GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO, October 13-15 in Chicago, will be able to take advantage of free educational sessions designed to help them assess market opportunities and new technologies for wide-format digital output.

The free sessions will take place in the show floor's Wide Format Pavilion, which holds a 60-seat theater for exhibitor-hosted sessions. “Our goal is to offer, side by side, the latest technologies and the knowledge attendees need to make use of those technologies,” Ralph Nappi, president, Graphic Arts Show Co. (Reston, VA). The Mailing & Fulfillment pavilion also will feature educational sessions.

In the Wide Format Pavilion, the sessions will cover:

  • Using digital die cutting to finish irregularly shaped short-run graphics, Steve Aranoff, business development director, Mikkelsen Graphic Engineering.
  • Optimizing your RIP to optimize business efficiencies, Walter Noot, president and CEO, ONYX Graphics.
  • Digital tools for delivering quality prints, Kimberly Brown-Azzarello, large format application specialist, HP, Large-Format Printing.
  • Commercial print applications for solvent printing and packaging proofing using UV inkjet, Steve Urmano, marketing manager, Mimaki.
  • Finding the right RIP for your wide-format printer and workflow, Kent J. Villarreal, director of workflow and wide-format analysis, Bertl.
  • Printing on wood, stone, metal, tiles and other 3D surfaces, Dr. Nicholas Hellmuth, FLAAR, director, Large Format Digital Imaging Division, Center for Applied Technology, Bowling Green State University.
  • Profitable color relationships: creating a collaborative work environment using the World-Wide Web, Mark Blundell, CEO, SA Intl.
  • New markets and specialty applications for digital printing, Laura Wilson, product manager, Roland DGA.
  • Understanding digital textiles, Dwight Bessette and David Conrad, product managers, Neschen Americas.
  • Color management for the real world of large-format printing, Tony Miller, product manager, Roland DGA.
  • Superwide-format digital printing: a big opportunity for print providers, Michael Wozny, product marketing manager, EFI-VUTEk.
  • Wide-format inkjet printing for the offset commercial printer, Heather Willovit, wide-format graphics technical manager, Pitman.

The 45-minute sessions are intended to offer practical, specific information that goes beyond the hype and gets to the issues that affect everyday operations in these areas.