The commercial printing industry relies on a number of different machines to produce everything from books to billboards. Printing equipment includes screen printers, offset printers, digital printers, laser printers, and more. Good printing results depend on operators selecting the right papers and inks for their jobs. Printers, regardless of their type and function, are designed to work with a specific range of papers and inks. Deviation from a machine’s specifications for ink and paper threatens the quality of print output and can cause mechanical failures.
Printer Ink Formulations
Except for laser printers that use toner, printers create text and images with ink. Printing presses have requirements about what type of inks can be used successfully with the machines.
Different formulations of ink are needed for papers depending on whether they are porous or nonporous. Matching the right ink to the paper is necessary to avoid smudges and smears and reproduce colors correctly.
Ink formulations determine the rate of drying after application to paper or cardboard. As an example, quick-set inks are made from a mix of resins, oil, and solvent. The solvent enters the paper quickly in a process that leaves the pigment to adhere to the surface.
The speed of printing influences ink formulation as well. Faster speeds require thinner inks that can flow at a high rate of application.
Commercial Printer Sanitation
Keeping industrial printing equipment clean is also important for maintaining quality print results. Failure to clean printing equipment will reduce color quality. Grime on equipment also increases friction among moving parts, which accelerates wear and tear.
Commercial printers require routine cleaning to remove ink residues that build up. Workers use solvents to strip off old ink and grime. Solvent formulas vary in accordance with the types of inks that need to be cleaned off.
Paper Weight Printer Specifications
The paper manufacturing and printing industries categorize paper according to its weight. In general, thinner papers have lower weights and thicker papers have higher weights.
Paper weight is measured in pounds in the United States. People in office environments are most familiar with the bond weight of paper, which refers to the weight of 500 sheets of paper. For example, paper used most often in standard inkjet or laser office printers is 20 pounds for 500 sheets.
Globally, paper is measured with the metric system and comes with ratings that describe grams per square meter of paper or GSM. Printing equipment will come with a booklet from the manufacturer explaining the range of paper weights that a machine can run effectively. Manufacturer information may present weights in one or both units of measurement.
Weight measurements inform printing professionals about the density of the paper. A paper with low density absorbs ink in a different way than a high-density paper. People designing marketing materials must be well-informed about how to select paper for different purposes. A low-density newsprint works for an advertising insert, but a higher-density paper is needed to print a poster that needs to be more durable. The paper selected will influence the type of printing equipment needed for the job.
Problems Associated With The Wrong Paper Or Ink
Printers perform under rigorous conditions and create thousands of copies per hour. Operators who ignore the paper and ink specifications for a piece of equipment are bound to experience problems with precision equipment moving at high speeds. The wrong paper in the machine is likely to result in torn paper. The printer may shred the paper and eventually jam up.
An error in ink formulation will cause smudges and smears. The ink either does not get a chance to stick to the paper due to speed, or it cannot properly adhere to the paper because of a mismatch between paper type and ink.