Whose Responsibility Is It?
In working with many traditional printers moving to inkjet, I hear the same comment over and over. “So what, it’s just paper...Right? I spent millions of dollars on inkjet, why do I have to waste ink and time testing all of these papers?”
This comment is a perfectly valid one.
Inkjet is a new and wonderful “disruptive technology” that is ever-changing to adapt to customer and market needs. Speed requirements are pushing print head jetting capabilities which, in turn, is requiring changes in inkjet fluid chemistry. All of these changes are being done to ensure ink and print head compatibility.
Once the inks are developed, the paper mills modify and develop paper and surface treatments, as well as coatings, to ensure these new ink fluids and paper surfaces are compatible.
Inkjet printing on uncoated, treated, or coated papers requires compatibility between the substrate surface and the ink chemistry, as well as understanding the proper amount of ink to apply to the surface. A change to any of these elements will cause gamut and density loss, drying or curing issues, show through, cockle, mottling, as well as cutting, folding and inserting issues.
With print heads, inkjet fluids and paper continually changing, who is responsible to ensure the inkjet customer has the proper, compatible substrates ready to use upon a multimillion-dollar inkjet installation?
Is it the OEM? Since ensuring runnability and compatibility with many papers is crucial to the sale. This requires OEM warehousing logistics and analysis of hundreds of paper grades and weights.
Is it the paper mills? Since they need a portfolio of substrates, which are consistently manufactured, to stay compatible with changing fluids. This requires OEM inks to be integrated into the paper manufacturing/testing process, as well as having the proper jetting devices for testing.