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A digital printing paper guide

There is an astounding variety of paper available today. Choosing the correct paper for the printing job at hand ensures perfect results.
Read time 4min 10sec

When technology was in its infancy and printers and copiers were still being introduced to the market, little thought was put into the significant role consumables could play in the creation of quality prints.

Technology exploded, speeds increased, colour dawned, and just as we have moved from old, scratchy LP records to cassettes, CDs and now DVDs, each bringing with it new levels of capabilities and capacities, ink and paper developments continue to inject greater quality into the final printed image.

The result of this technology explosion is an astounding variety of paper available today. Here is a "what to use" guide for choosing the right paper for digital applications.

Document types

Consider the type of document that is being created and the technology that will be used. Overall document quality depends on using the correct paper for the document type that is to be produced and the equipment that will be used.

Also keep in mind that paper varieties include different shades and finishes, so select one that suits the desired application.

Digital design

Make sure the paper is designed for digital printing, which often calls for heavier base weights due to the feeding and fusing process. Lighter weight sheets tend to crease or become wavy.

Paper that has been manufactured for digital printing is specifically designed to respond to the high fusing heat of digital devices.

Adding colour

Each vendor`s machine accepts a different range of paper sizes and basis weights.

Ashley Groenendaal, sales and marketing support manager

Digital colour printing places different demands on the paper. When choosing the paper, remember that colour electro-photographic technology applies toner at a greater rate than monochrome printing.

Therefore, colour digital printing requires a heavier paper to support the layers of toner used. If the paper is too light, the multiple toner applications will cause the stock to ripple.

Standards

Whenever possible, choose a standard-size paper as this allows the shortest possible turnaround time, making the operation more cost-effective.

Trimmed to perfection

Choose paper that has been precision-trimmed to ensure image quality and proper printer maintenance. Good registration is critical for simplex and duplex jobs. A lack of precision trimming can result in misregistration and blurry images.

Also, the fibres on the edge of paper that has not been precision-cut can loosen and separate, creating paper dust in the machine.

Engine differences

Not all digital presses are the same; understand the print engine being used. Each vendor`s machine accepts a different range of paper sizes and basis weights. Also, each machine`s paper path, feeding mechanism and toner chemistry can be different.

Papers respond differently to all of these variations, so be sure to select a paper supplier with a successful history in digital printing technology and one that offers paper specifically designed to optimise performance in digital copier and printers.

Not created equal

Coated printing papers are not all created equal. Be more careful with coated papers than with uncoated papers. A stock`s coating chemistry must be designed to withstand the high-heat environment of the digital printing process.

Coated offset grades can blister, crack and bubble when exposed to a digital device`s fuser. Toner adhesion and image quality can also be an issue with offset coated papers.

Test runs

Always test-run a new paper before beginning a big job. Testing a paper stock will ensure it can provide the image quality and the expected look and feel.

Finishing

Take into consideration the type of finishing the job will require, such as binding or folding, and be sure to select short-grain paper for better image integrity on a fold. Always pre-score the paper or buy pre-scored paper for some types of applications, such as greeting cards and invitations.

Storage

Make sure the paper is stored properly to ensure the best possible results. After selecting the right paper for the job, it is important to ensure the quality of the paper remains high, job after job.

Get the most out of paper by:

* Carefully stacking individual cartons of paper on top of one another to avoid crushing the edges or causing other damage.
* Avoiding page-curling moisture absorption by always storing cartons on shelves or in cabinets rather than directly on the floor.
* Storing paper in areas that are protected from extreme temperatures and humidity.
* Not opening the ream wrapper until it is time to load the paper into the device. The wrapper has an inner lining that guards against moisture absorption, and once opened, this protective barrier is gone.

Ashley Groenendaal

Sales and marketing support manager at Bytes Document Solutions.

Ashley Groenendaal is sales and marketing support manager at Bytes Document Solutions. Hailing from England, Groenendaal has been a member of the Bytes Document Solutions fold since joining Xerox South Africa as key account sales executive in 1994. In the 11 years she has been with the company, she has held positions as district sales manager, concessionaire area manager, national concessionaire manager, and now national marketing and sales support manager. She is responsible for the company's marketing and sales strategy for sub-Saharan Africa. Groenendaal has won a number of awards within the company and was chosen by Xerox to complete the Xerox Leaders for the Future programme.

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