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Get the Most from Your Digital Paper

Getting the best quaility on your digital print jobs means using paper designed for digital printing. Here, several paper experts offer their suggestions to help you pick the right papers and get the best results.

January 2011 By Bob Neubauer
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TIMES ARE tough. To save money, you might be tempted to load less expensive sheets into your digital printers, rather than those developed specifically for digital printing.

But don't do it, the experts warn. Digital papers will save you money (and headaches) in the end by yielding better ink transfer and adhesion, fewer jams, increased uptime and less waste. Also, says Glatfelter's Melissa Klug, using the wrong paper could ultimately harm your equipment.

"You will end up with increased service costs with your extremely expensive and valuable digital equipment," she says. "Digital papers are specially manufactured to meet the exacting specifications of today's digital equipment; it is not the same paper in a different wrapper."

There's also the curl factor, adds Cindy Hamrick, of Hammermill Paper. Offset papers contain about 6 percent moisture, she says, while digital papers have 4.5 percent.

"In general, papers with a high moisture content (over 5 percent) show a high propensity for curl in digital equipment and produce more print mottle."

Adds Boise's Kirk Krahn, "Digital papers generally have a smoother surface to allow for better print quality [i.e. toner adhesion] in comparison to less expensive sheets."

How about using papers designed for inkjet on your toner device, or vice versa?

"There is a huge difference in inkjet and toner papers," notes Molly Rosenthal, of Mohawk Fine Papers, Inc. "Inkjet papers are designed to fix the ink and absorb moisture."

"A sheet designed for toner-based printing may not have the proper holdout necessary for the water-based, low viscosity of inkjet applications," adds Russ Leone, of Boise.

"Problems can arise with substitutions," agrees Appleton's Jason Morgan. "Inkjet papers do not contain enough resin to bind toners well, while papers that work well with toner are not absorbent enough to give good inkjet print quality."

That said, multi-purpose papers may seem like a good solution. Observers say these sheets may work well for simple black-and-white prints, but...

"In cases where there is more color applied, that is where you will see the largest differences between multi-purpose and digital-specific papers," points out Glatfelter's Klug, adding that on digital paper, moisture specifications are tighter to prevent paper jams.

"Anything involving screens, gradations, solids, color builds and process color will do dramatically better on a true digital sheet," adds Leone, of Boise.



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