How Pebble Paper Stacks Up Against Competitors
Over the past two weeks, we have been building an exciting case for our new Pebble Paper inkjet printing material. Here in the U.S., I bought resin coated photo papers from almost every major brand on the market. Canon, Kodak, Epson, HP, Hahnemühle, and Office Depot. It ended up costing around $300 dollars for only a few packs of paper, which should tell you what kind of materials we are up against. Here is my honest retelling of what happened, and why it’s a big deal.
The first thing I discovered was that the definition of high gloss is much glossier than I was expecting. The high gloss papers were almost like a mirror. Back in Henan, China, when our papers came off of the machines, we thought we had achieved a high gloss. After seeing all of the papers from the big brands, it was clear we actually made a semi-gloss or luster finish. That’s when it became clear that our first target segment is matte and semi-gloss, where we have truly achieved a comparable finish.
So I took the matte papers from Canon, Epson, Kodak, and Office Depot to Bill Barley, a fine art photographer and printer in Lexington, South Carolina. We printed them all with the same template, a beautiful picture of the Columbia statehouse and a bar chart to show the tonal range of the papers.
I’m excited to say we can compete with the big boys. The traditional RC papers came out of the printer with a beautiful image, but they were seriously wrinkled. This was using Epson’s color profile for the printer, mind you. The wrinkling was an obvious drawback. Since Pebble Paper is based on stone particles instead of cellulose fibers, the inner structure of the paper isn’t compromised by the inks. The Pebble Paper came out warp-free.
But it gets better. We noticed the Pebble Paper was having a little trouble drying in the darkest parts of the image on the first print. This was due to the high ink coverage in those areas. To fix this, we slightly reduced the ink consumption compared to the other papers. To our surprise, it was even better than those papers. We were able to achieve a better tonal range and saturation than the other papers without any warping. And we didn’t even need a custom color profile!
When you consider the outstanding sustainability credentials of our material, the simplified manufacturing, the waterproofness, tear resistance, and stable whiteness of our papers, these findings conclusively prove that we have more to offer in the matte and semi-gloss arena than traditional RC photo papers.
So what does that mean? Well, I think it’s time to shift gears and get these big companies on board with these developments. In fact, a few of them have already expressed interest. On their end, it seems like testing is going similarly well.
This is the most exciting development yet for our material, a positive result in two years of international development. Stay tuned for our next goal: The first commercial rollout of Pebble Paper with a retail partner!
If you’d like to learn more, check out our in-depth technical article at pebbleprinting.com/publications.
Hunter Bliss is currently a strategic account executive for RR Donnelley Asia, based in New York City. Previously, during a four-year residence in China, he acted as the founder and CEO of Pebble Printing Group, a printer specializing in stone paper printing. Hunter is from South Carolina, was educated as a printer in Germany, and founded his company in Shenzhen, China.