Inkjet Media; Papers And Inks

The obvious big news at this year's show was the "proliferation" of pigmented ink-based printers--and with that comes a new level of inks and print longevity. We used to think that pigmented inks could not deliver the color saturation and punch of dye-based inks, but that no longer appears to be the case with this new generation of inksets with expanded colors (including shades of black and gray). There were also new papers in abundance, and, in particular, new third-party/after-market (non-OEM) inks for Epson's K3 printers, especially for black and white museum-quality printing.

Argraph announced that they are now the distributors for Canson (not to be confused with Canon) inkjet media.

Mi-Teintes Digital White is a pastel paper with a signature honeycomb texture, comprised of 50 percent cotton, and free of optical brighteners. Montval Torchon is a heavyweight white, acid-free paper with a distinctive, cloud-shaped texture described as imparting motion to images. It is water- and scuff-resistant. Other papers include Canvas and Watercolor, as well as Glossy and Satin.

Canon made a big splash at PMA this year with the introduction of its wide-format, pigment-ink printers in the PIXMA Pro and imagePROGRAF product lines and, consequently, with pigment inksets and new papers to take advantage of these inks. As Chuck Westfall explained in his press presentation, "Prints made with our Lucia pigmented inks are rated to last longer than those produced by our competitors. In fact, Canon is proud to announce that we are working closely with Wilhelm Imaging Research for independent testing of print longevity. In addition to longevity, professional photographers insist on accurate, brilliant color. The imagePROGRAF iPF5000, with its 12-color Lucia pigmented-ink system, is the first full-spectrum color system in the inkjet industry, with both additive and subtractive color inks, plus a full complement of photo black, matte black, and photo gray inks for high-quality black and white prints. In the PIXMA Pro series, the new 9500 model features a 10-color Lucia pigmented-ink system."

Equally important, the gray ink also reduces the photo phenomenon known as metamerism, where composite gray inks (achieved with combinations of cyan, magenta, and yellow inks) make image areas look different under different lighting conditions (such as sunlight, fluorescent light, and incandescent light)--an aberration due to the differences in spectral reflectance properties of each of the composite colors. Westfall added: "The PIXMA Pro models support glossy, matte, and fine art paper stocks from both Canon and Hahnemühle," including rag-content media for impressive fine art reproductions. "The iPF5000 goes even further, with a tremendous range of roll-fed and cut-sheet media up to 17" in width." As with Canon's current printer line-up, the new inksets consist of individual tanks for each color.

Museo Silver Rag is a new fine art paper from Crane & Co. This 100 percent cotton media features a glossy finish, is internally buffered, and contains no optical brighteners, with a pH between 7.9 and 8.5. Designed to produce results similar to fiber-based black and white printing, this paper is made to be used with pigmented inks employing the photo black ink cartridge.

Eastman Kodak Company announced changes across its entire line of consumer inkjet papers with the incorporation of porous media technology. The new quicker-drying surface eliminates smudges and sticking that can ruin the printed picture. Kodak has also streamlined its portfolio of inkjet papers down to Ultra Premium Photo Paper, Premium Photo Paper, and Photo Paper. Each paper will be available in a glossy or non-glossy finish and will be packaged in three different sheet count options.

While not brand-new, UltraChrome K3 inks from Epson America did have a strong presence at this year's show as a key part of Epson's pigment ink-based inkjet technologies, and specifically the new Epson Stylus Photo R2400. This new eight-color inkset offers a wider color gamut, while three levels of black provide enhanced black and white output, with print permanence ratings extending beyond 100 years. By using a proprietary Microcrystal Encapsulation technology, Epson delivers improved pigment and resin chemistry to provide better scratch resistance and glossier prints.

Other enhancements ensure there are no color crossover or color casts.

Ferrania Technologies unveiled an expanded family of inkjet cartridges and papers. The OptiJet inkjet cartridges--for a variety of Epson, Canon, HP, and Lexmark desktop printers and multifunction machines--are said to be more economical than OEM inks and to be 100 percent compatible. The new media are part of the PermaPix Advanced Archival inkjet line-up featuring PerDura Technology, with several new grades of polymeric, microporous, cast-coated, matte photo papers and specialty media. PermaPix papers are instant drying and offer waterproof protection. PerDura Technology blocks ozone and prevents gas, thereby contributing to a lasting image.

Hahnemühle USA introduced several new papers for both dye and pigment inks. Photo Rag Satin 310 gsm has the unique ability to take on a satin or luster look where there is a printed image yet remain matte over the periphery. Photo Rag Bright White 310gsm is a 100 percent rag, acid-free paper designed to give extra brilliance to both color and monochrome images. The coating offers a very high level of water resistance. Another new rag paper is Museum Etching 350gsm (in the ArtLine series), which is free of optical brighteners, with a slight texture and a soft homogenous surface. This new paper is unique in that, while maintaining the desirable traditional surface structure of other etching papers, it also demonstrates the subtle velvety nuances found in 100 percent rag papers. Moving to another product group, this company has added six new papers to the Lumijet line, which has been rebranded as Lumijet Inkjet Media (including canvas and parchment media), to distinguish these papers from Hahnemühle's own Fine Art range, which includes several media formerly labeled Lumijet.

The new HP Photosmart Pro B9180 Photo Printer heralds a new age of pigment-based HP Vivera inks and instant-drying papers from Hewlett-Packard, with enhanced fade resistance and durability. HP claims permanence to exceed 200 years, owing to a proprietary pigment dispersion technology--Electrosteric Encapsulation Technology (EET). Each pigment particle is encapsulated in a resin layer that prevents clumping. The Photosmart Pro B9180 uses eight individual HP Vivera pigment inks, including new matte black and photo black inks, a new neutral gray ink, and new color inks in cyan, light cyan, magenta, light magenta, and yellow--all specially formulated to produce a broad color gamut, deep, rich blacks, and true, neutral grays on a variety of media, including fast-drying photo papers such as the new HP Advanced Photo Paper, fine art papers, watercolor, canvas, and textured art papers.