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Some inkjet papers are made from high quality deinked pulp or chemical pulps. Quality inkjet paper requires good dimensional stability, no curling or cockling, and good surface strength. For most purposes surface smoothness is required. Sufficient and even porosity is required to counteract spreading of the ink. For lower quality printing, uncoated copy paper will suffice, but higher grades require coating. The traditional coatings are not widely used for inkjet papers. For matte inkjet papers, it is common to use silica as pigment together with polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH). Glossy inkjet papers can be made by multicoating, resin coating, or cast coating on a lamination paper.
There also exist a wide variety of fine art papers which meet the needs of professional photographers and artists. These papers share many characteristics with traditional watercolor, printmaking, and photographic papers. Fine art inkjet papers are designed to meet similar standards for longevity as traditional fine art papers: they should have a neutral pH, be lignin-free, and not include optical brighteners. Fine art inkjet papers differ from traditional fine art papers, in that they include coatings which are designed to receive and hold inks. Fine art papers are usually made of rag pulp (100% cotton being the most common) but may also be have an alpha-cellulose base. Some descriptions and comparisons of fine art inkjet papers are here, here, here, and here. Some fine art papers are mold made, while others are machine made, and may vary considerably in surface texture. Many fine art papers are available in pre-cut sheets or in rolls.
Comparison to standard office paper
Standard office paper has traditionally been designed for use with typewriters and copy machines, where the paper usually does not get wet. With these types of paper, moisture tends to wick through the fibers away from the point of contact to form a disk. For an inkjet paper, this spreading results in the ink spreading out in the fibers to form a large smudge which lacks pigment intensity.
High-quality inkjet printing with dark, crisp lines requires the paper to have exactly the right degree of absorbency to accept the ink but prevent its sideways spread. Many general-purpose office papers of weights around 21 to 27 lb (80–100 g/m²) have been reformulated so that they can be used equally well with both inkjet and laser printers. However, this category of paper is only suitable for printing text, because the ink load is light.
When paper is manufactured, it is formed from a fiber mat that collects on an open mesh screen, which is then dried and pressed flat and smooth. Large areas of inkjet color, such as found in graphics and photographs, soak the paper fibers with so much moisture that they swell and return to their original shape from before pressing, resulting in a wavy buckling of the paper surface.
Double-sided inkjet printing is usually not possible with inexpensive low-weight copy paper because of bleed-through from one side to the other. Heavier weight paper works better due to the thickness of the fibers limiting bleed-through.
These papers are also unsuitable for photographic work because standard office paper is usually not "white" enough. This results in a poor color gamut and leads to colors being described as "muddy".
For all types of paper, the settings in the printer driver must be adjusted to suit the paper, so that the right amount of ink is delivered.
Inkjet photo paper
Photo paper is a category of inkjet paper designed specifically for reproduction of photographs, which is extremely bright white due to bleaching or substances such as titanium dioxide, and has been coated with a highly absorbent material that limits diffusion of the ink away from the point of contact. Highly refined clay is a common coating to prevent ink spread.
The best of these papers, with suitable pigment-based ink systems, can match or exceed the image quality and longevity of photographic gelatin-based silver halide continuous tone printing methods used for color photographs, such as Fuji CrystalArchive (for color prints from negatives) and Cibachrome/Ilfochrome (for color prints from positive transparencies). For printing monochrome photographs, traditional silver-based papers are widely felt[by whom?] to retain some advantage over inkjet prints.
Photo paper is usually divided into glossy, semi-matte, semi-gloss, "satin" or "silk", and matte finishes. The thickness of photo paper varies over a wide range. The lighter weights are not much different from general-purpose office papers as described above, and can be used for all types of printing, although these are the least expensive lowest-quality photo paper.
Photo papers for more critical work are thicker and have advanced coatings, sometimes with quick-drying properties. They can normally be printed only on the one specially coated side. A few papers are coated for double-sided printing.
Glossy photo paper, which is generally the most popular, has a shiny finish that gives photos a vivid look. It will generally be smooth to the touch and will have some glare to it. Matte photo paper is less shiny and has less of a glare than glossy paper. It is often used to produce superior text results. Matte and glossy prints will typically feel different to the touch, but when displayed under glass their results will often look quite similar. To increase the resemblance to oil paintings, papers with an imitation canvas texture are available. Photo papers are usually high-brightness neutral white papers, but a few off-white papers are made.
As in offset litho printing and traditional photographic printing, glossy papers give the highest color density (or Dmax), and therefore the widest color gamut. Photo papers vary in their longevity and their color gamut. Ink suppliers often provide color profiles for their ink systems when used with specific papers. Longevity depends on the specific combination of inks and paper. For maximum life, the paper substrate will be "woodfree" (i.e. wood-based but without lignin), or cotton-based, or a combination of the two. Plastic substrates also exist.
No official paper industry definition exists for glossy, semi-matte, etcetera, although an objective scale is available for the glossiness of papers used in offset litho printing. Such paper suppliers as Hewlett-Packard, Epson and Kodak all use their own terms to describe their paper, such as Everyday (HP), Premium High Gloss and Luster (Epson) and Ultima (Kodak). ECI (www.eci.org) has categorized papers for proofing simulation of litho papers (type1/2 etc.)
- Types of Paper
- A type of paper that shines by nature. When light falls on such paper it is either reflected parallelly or at an angle. One has to be very careful while handling a glossy paper as it may get spots of fingers on it.
- Luster papers are like glossy papers but they do not have a reflection problem that glossy paper has when a glossy paper photo is seen at an angle.
- With metallic paper a sheet of mylar is kept between the printing paper and the emulsion.
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- Proofing guide (ECI homepage)