Pebble Paper Is Here! This Is What It Means for Inkjet Printing
A while ago, I wrote an article about some tests I had done on an experimental version of stone paper. This material was the first stone paper material that I could use with my household, water-based inkjet printer. Since then, I have had the privilege of working with an innovative Chinese team in making it commercially viable. I’m excited to announce that the official product, our very own Pebble Paper, is ready to use for commercial applications. Here are the key points about this development:
Pebble Paper is an updated version of what we have called stone paper material, made of 80% calcium carbonate and 20% high-density polyethylene (HDPE). It’s a sustainable alternative to traditional paper, requiring dramatically fewer resources in production than traditional paper.
The biggest difference between stone paper and Pebble Paper is the printability. Our paper is now compatible with water-based inkjet printing inks. This opens up exciting new possibilities for a material that previously was neck-and-neck with offset paper. In production cost and sustainability, Pebble Paper is head and shoulders above coated inkjet papers.
Compared to photo paper, Pebble Paper comes in at a whopping 90% cheaper per sheet. Compared to typical coated inkjet papers, it comes in around 70% cheaper per sheet. Compared to wide format inkjet paper rolls, we come in around 80% cheaper per square foot of material (coated inkjet). Pebble Paper can save at least 10% of the ink consumption compared to traditional paper due to its waterproof structure. It also saves on 100% of the trees and water necessary for traditional paper production.
This might sound too good to be true, but it’s not. This has been a development coming for over two decades since the invention of this unique material, and was brought to life by $3 million USD in development over the last year. I am excited to have my company’s name on this material and to be the exclusive representative for foreign markets. Most of our team works in a remote village that not even most Chinese people have heard about, so developing this project has required every ounce of my Chinese language and cultural skills.
Another reason this is not silly is because coated inkjet papers also use sophisticated coatings to optimize inkjet printing performance. In the case of photo papers, these coatings are often plastic, which means high prices and low recyclability. Pebble Paper eliminates the need for a paper core between two layers of plastic emulsion, and enhances recyclability while lowering the price.
The very first sheets were released recently, after which I raced to my local print shop to test the performance on an Epson L1800. The results of that test can be found here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1sJ2ZJqKFmd-akz_hMnRLmhgfo2IqF-pr?usp=sharing There are a few notes to make for interested printers.
The stiffness of Pebble Paper is lower than traditional paper or cardstock, while the density is higher. The samples shown from the first test were done on a 192 GSM stone paper, which is in the middle range of available thicknesses. The opacity is also slightly lower. At a basic level, I think these are the main two compromises that should be mentioned in Printing Impressions. It’s hard to quantify them exactly, so I recommend people check out this material themselves and see what I mean. Regardless, the excellent printing performance makes Pebble Paper a serious contender for inkjet applications.
There is still a long way to go for this paper, with further commercial tests coming up next week, a webcast interview the week after that, and a factory tour for an investment project at the end of November 2021. I will be returning home to South Carolina for a two-month vacation in December for anyone who would like to personally speak with me. I welcome any questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, the first production samples have just begun shipping internationally . Please contact me if you would like to be added to the list of recipients.
Hunter Bliss is the founder and CEO of Pebble Printing Group, a printer specializing in sustainable innovation. Pebble Printing Group is a leading innovator in stone paper material, as well other circular solutions for traditional publishing and packaging print. Hunter is from South Carolina, was educated as a printer in Germany, and founded his company in Shenzhen, China.