Paper And Ink Choices Continue To Grow

While the latest generation of ink jet printers continue to astound us with their enhanced printing technologies, ink jet media--primarily papers--do not fail to grab our attention for one reason or another. While the industry still has not firmly established a uniform testing standard across international lines (British paper manufacturers, for instance, adhere to their own industry standards), Wilhelm Imaging Research (WIR) and a number of printer manufacturers are adding momentum to this endeavor with the new WIR Image Permanence Testing Program and WIR Test Certification Seal that will be emblazoned on qualifying papers, inks, and printers. To qualify, the media must be shown to exhibit permanence for 25 years and album/dark storage "at least equal to the display rating," according to a WIR release (through the use of accelerated fading/aging tests). Updated information, including ratings for ozone resistance, resistance to high humidity during display and storage, and water resistance will be posted on upon availability. So far, Epson, HP, and Lexmark have been awarded the first certification seals for use with selected products.

As for new products, there were enough to stimulate the senses, beginning with a product line new to these shores. ANW/Crestwood introduced Innova digital papers to the US market. Innova manufactures a range of papers in both smooth and textured surfaces in 100 percent cotton and fiber based. All products are acid/lignin-free, coated, and are said to feature excellent density and superior color gamut. Aside from the media itself, one outstanding feature, which is clearly innovative, is a clear plastic case to house and transport the paper--which means you don't have to buy a separate portfolio case. Available in 8.5x11 and larger sheet sizes, as well as rolls. More important still is the new Opti-coat technology being used on a full range of Innova papers to reduce dust that tends to clog print heads, while also preventing flaking and scuffing.

Bogen Imaging Inc., distributor of Legion Paper, presented the new Legion Premium Canvas, which is a matte-finish, water-resistant, coated ink jet canvas, giving prints the look and feel of an oil painting. It is made from a poly-cotton blend, and is stated to be archival, with a neutral pH that is compatible with both dye-based and pigment-based inks. The material is specially crafted to be flexible for stretching and framing while maintaining durability without cracking or tearing. The weight of the ink jet stock also produces instant drying and curl control. Availability: 81/2x11 ($35/25 sheets), 11x17, and 13x19" sizes; also in rolls.

In new papers, Ferrania Imaging Technologies introduced instant-drying, water-resistant PermaPix Advanced Archival ink jet photo paper. This paper features exclusive PerDura Technology, which protects color images by blocking ozone and preventing gas fading through the introduction of a catalytic element to neutralize ozone effects that typically degrade photo quality. Available in 15-sheet 8.5x11 and 50-sheet 4x6 retail packages (both $15), in glossy finish. The paper works with both dye-based and pigmented inks. This company also announced availability of OptiJet dye-based inks for popular consumer printers in cartridge (starting at $6) and bulk form. The bulk inks are only available for Epson and Canon printers, whereas the cartridges are available for these devices, along with HP and Lexmark. These inks are said to deliver crisp, clean, and accurate color reproduction and superior durability.

Hahnemühle USA, which now owns Lumijet, is expanding this product line with three new double-sided ink jet papers in the Portfolio Series, with pricing for 8.5x11" 20-sheet packs starting at $31. Designed to lighten the load on a photographer's portfolio by reducing the bulk, these double-sided papers also offer a cost advantage, while still retaining a fine art feel. Surfaces include: Art Two Sides, smooth matte surface with a natural warm tone; Velvet Two Sides, a lightweight natural media with a slight surface texture; and Silk Two Sides, with a more distinctive texture.

On the fun side, HP debuted HP Premium Photo Cards, which come 40 glossy-finish sheets to a pack, 4x8" in size. More than just paper, the package includes HP Design Studio software (Windows only), with over 100 American Greetings card designs. Templates encompass baby announcements, graduation, birthday, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, wedding invitations, and more. Envelopes are included in this $15 package.

Print Plus Fine Art is one of several new ink jet papers unveiled by Inkpress Paper. This paper has a fine art coating and an economical wood pulp paper base that makes it well suited for exhibition-quality prints. This archival paper is acid- and lignin-free. Velvet 20 mil is a 100 percent cotton, acid-free, satin-finish paper. Velvet 15 mil is 100 percent cotton and acid-free, with a velvet finish. It is designed to work equally well with both color and quad-tone black pigment ink sets. Proofing Matte is an economical proofing media for this company's Print Plus Matte 80 lb/44 lb media (same coating, same profiles). Inkpress Paper media are available in all popular sheet and roll sizes, and are manufactured in the U.S.A. Visit their website ( for some helpful hints on using profiles.

InteliCoat Technologies re-launched the Magiclée line of digital fine art and photo papers, and has given the different product lines uniquely identifying names: Verona for fine art and photo art papers, Torino for canvas, Siena for quick-drying photo papers, and Firenze for photo-realistic matte papers. These media are said to be archival and compatible with most water-based ink jet printers, offering superior imaging and durability resulting from value-added coatings matched to specialty substrates. Free ICC profiles are available online, along with color management support.