Getting To Know Your Printer

Before printing your baby announcements or invitations, make sure you get to know your personal printer especially if the only action it has seen is the typical office print jobs. Today’s desktop printers are sophisticated machines designed to handle a number of different media including card stocks of various weight. Getting to know your printer’s capabilities can help you avoid some frustrations down the road.

Top-feed vs. bottom-feed vs. back-feed printer
First, determine whether your printer is a top-feed where the paper sits upright above your printer or a bottom-feed where the paper lays in a tray beneath your printer. Epson, Canon, and Lexmark printers are typically top-feed while Hewlett Packard printers are usually bottom-feed. Some printers also offer the option to feed paper from the back of the printer.

All things being equal, the best results for home printing come from printers that offer top feeding or back feeding. These two types of feeding mechanism pull the paper through a straighter path resulting in less paper wrinkles, ink smudges, and paper jams.

Laser vs. inkjet printer
Many personal printers today belong to one of two categories: laser or inkjet. A laser printer and an inkjet printer have some key differences that you should be aware of when printing your own baby stationery. Among the most important distinguishing characteristics are printing process, print quality, and speed.

The printing process for a laser printer and an inkjet printer differs in ink types and ink delivery technology. In an inkjet printer liquid ink is sprayed out in droplets from tiny nozzles onto the paper. In a laser printer, the ink is a powdery substance called “toner” and is made of individual carbon particles mixed in a polymer. The toner is electrostatically transferred onto the paper then heat and pressure are applied via rollers to melt the toner and fuse it onto the paper to form a durable image.

Although inkjet technology has made some significant advances in terms of print quality in recent years, laser printers are still known to produce clearer and more precise text and graphics, particularly in black and white. Laser printers can also create halftone effect, which cannot be duplicated by inkjet printers because they spray small droplets of ink rather than produce a discrete dot. On the other hand, inkjet printers are better when it comes to printing solid color photos. Keep these strengths and weaknesses in mind when you are contemplating whether or not to include color, clipart, or photos to your announcement or invite. Unfortunately with inkjet printers, higher photo quality is usually achieved at the expense of print speed, as they can be noticeably slower than laser printers. This is a consideration if you plan to print large quantities of cards.

So what kind of printer do you have? Your printer manual should tell you whether you have a laser or inkjet printer, but a quick way to tell is by looking at the printout. If the paper coming from the printer is warm, it is likely a laser printer. If the ink on the paper is wet to the touch, it is probably an inkjet printer.

Regardless of printer type, one thing to bear in mind is not all laser printers and inkjet printers are created equally. Some high-end inkjet printers can outperform many laser printers and some inexpensive laser printers can perform significantly below many inkjet printers.
Laser or inkjet compatible paper

Once you’ve determine whether you have a laser or inkjet printer, make sure that the Baby Cachet printable invitation and announcement you’d like to use is compatible with your printer type.

Not all paper is compatible with both inkjet and laser printers. Certain types of paper, especially some coated paper, cause ink smudges when used with inkjet printers because they do not readily absorb ink. Conversely, if the paper is highly absorbent, ink will penetrate quickly, resulting in low print density. Glossy, slick paper can be difficult for any printer to feed and is often not compatible with laser printers because the paper can warp under the heat used in laser printing. Likewise, rough or textured paper including those with a lot of embossing or debossing is also not suitable for most laser printers because the toner cannot be properly pressed onto the paper.

Compatibility with laser printers also depends on the ink used in the preprinted design of the card. Any preprinted ink must withstand the high temperatures and pressure used in laser printing and must be abrasion resistant to reduce ink dust and ink contamination in the printer. Invitations preprinted with thermography inks are usually not recommended for laser printers for these reasons. Paper with metallics in inks or other materials are not recommended for laser printers because of their conductivity and ability to bleed the electrostatic charge required for proper toner adhesion.

To assist our customers, Baby Cachet designates if a printable invitation is generally compatible with a laser printer, inkjet printer, or both. Simply look for the “Laser Friendly” and “Inkjet Friendly” designations at the bottom of the card’s detail product description page. Because each printer is different, we cannot guarantee that a particular invite will work with every inkjet and/or laser printer. Before committing to printing or purchasing a large quantity of invitations, it is highly recommended that you test out samples. It is also a good idea to consult your specific printer manuals since each printer model has unique specifications, especially those regarding acceptable paper weight, thickness, size, etc.

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