Tips for Printing with digital Paper
A familiar process in the business world, digital printing has moved at a slower pace across the commercial printing world. But, while it still has its limitations in this market, it also has its appeal, namely a result of the current interest in variable data printing and speed at short-run, quality production. Marketing and circulation departments are certainly exploring its benefits, and a number of catalogs and even magazines are putting it to use.
Because digital printing and digital paper are still relatively new phenomena in the industry, many production managers aren't familiar with the characteristics of digital paper and how to use it, factors that can significantly affect the finished product.
Not only is it important to carefully select the best digital paper for each job, but you must adhere to proper storage and usage techniques to produce the highest-quality work possible. PrintMedia contacted suppliers of digital paper to obtain their most valuable tips for working with and getting the most out of digital paper.
SELECTING THE DIGITAL PAPER THAT'S RIGHT FOR YOUR JOB
1 Digital color printing puts different demands on paper than digital black-and-white printing and therefore calls for a different paper stock. Color printing requires a heavier paper to support the larger amount of toner or ink. If the paper is too light, rippling and show-through can be issues. Heavier sheets (such as 24-32 bond or 60-80 lb. text) are more opaque and help minimize show-through. Coated or uncoated stock may be used.
- Tamara Pope, manager, worldwide product planning and marketing strategy, Xerox Supplies
2 When printing with digital equipment on cover-weight papers in sizes that will be folded, choose a short grain sheet. The fold will be in the direction of the sheet fibers, and you will avoid print-piece cracking.
- Ted Nielsen, group product manager, business papers, Domtar
3 Use paper designed specifically for digital printing … to maximize the image quality, toner adhesion and overall productivity of a digital piece. This is particularly the case with coated papers. What some people don't realize is that the use of offset coated sheets in a toner-based digital machine can
cause the paper to blister, crack and bubble, due to the high-heat fusing environment of a digital press.
- Tamara Pope
4 Avoid metallic inks as the metallic flakes can build up on the fuser rollers. Fluorescent inks are also not recommended. Minimizing ink and water on press should help reduce the possibility of wavy paper.
- Chris Harrold, manager of business development, digital papers, Mohawk Paper
5 When it comes to paper, the smoother, the better. The rougher it is, the poorer the image quality in solids and halftones. Extremely rough paper will not properly accept fused dry ink: It will rub or flake off. Using textured paper, for example, can lead to missing images. Mottle (light patches in solid color areas) occurs on rough papers, and on papers with poor or uneven formation.
- Tamara Pope
6 Toner does not adhere well to heavily preprinted areas. The digital image should print directly onto the paper, avoiding an overlap of offset ink. If the job specifies an overprint of a preprinted solid area, use a halftone screen to achieve the desired color.
- Chris Harrold
7 Precision sheeting is important to eliminate slitter dust (particles from sheeting) and sheet size variation, which can both affect the runnability and performance of the product. If ordering from a paper converter, select a reputable company.
- Kris Morrow, product manager, digital imaging, MeadWestvaco Papers Group
8 For digital color laser printing, best results are achieved with a premium digital or business paper. For example, this sort of paper should be whiter for better color contrast, smoother with better formation (to prevent 'mottling') and have better opacity for duplex print jobs.
- Ted Nielsen
9 Paper for high-speed copiers needs to be selected carefully. High-speed copiers produce large volumes of work in a short amount of time. A reliable copy paper must have excellent surface formulation to provide clear images and just the right smoothness to ensure jam-free runnability.
- Pam Roueche, manager, CRSC-media evaluation, International Paper
10 Once you select the proper paper for your job, make sure you store the paper properly to ensure that the quality of the paper will remain high. For example, stack individual cartons of paper carefully on top of one another to avoid crushing the edges or causing any other damage. To avoid page-curling moisture absorption, always store cartons on shelves or in cabinets rather than directly on the floor.
- Tamara Pope
11 The ideal storage temperature is 70-72 degrees Fahrenheit with relative humidity of 45 percent. If possible, condition the paper in the pressroom one to three days prior to running the paper.
- Ted Nielsen
12 Do not open the wrapper until you are ready to load the paper into the copier or printer. The wrapper has an inner lining that guards against moisture absorption, and once opened, the protective barrier is gone. After you open the ream, reseal the wrapper with tape if you will not be using all the paper immediately, or store it in a plastic bag.
- Tamara Pope
13 To prevent paper misfeeds, do not overload the paper tray. A slight curl is built into the paper to assist the transport through the copier. When you are opening the ream of paper, take note which side of the sheet is against the belly seam of the ream wrapper. Load sheets so that this side is imaged first.
- Pam Roueche
14 When running heavier-weight sheets in a digital press, adjust the setting on your equipment. Check with your digital equipment manufacturer for your make and model specifics.
- Ted Nielsen
15 Although digital sheets are more expensive than standard sheets, think about digital paper in terms of the quantity typically used in digital jobs, guaranteed performance and price. For example, an average digital job might total 5,000 sheets (143.8 lbs.) of 80-lb., 81⁄2˝ x 11˝ gloss cover. One option could be to select a non-guaranteed digital sheet (for instance, a folio product cut to 81⁄2˝ x 11˝ or a non-digital import). However, using a sheet already produced in sizes and quantities desirable for digital printers, and manufactured to meet the demand of digital print technologies, will provide a better sheet with a minimal cost increase. The difference in price may not be significant when you consider the guaranteed performance, possible damage caused to the machine should the substrate not perform properly, and the time, energy, waste and efficiencies saved in cutting and trimming larger sized sheets.
- Kris Morrow
Compiled by Heather Minauro, PrintMedia Group editorial assistant.