Paper was invented in China sometime around 105 AD, and its amazing staying power can be attributed in large part to its ability to continually adapt to changing communication styles. This is extremely evident in the advancements related to color digital inkjet paper.
New Innovations are Improving Inkjet Paper Performance
Perhaps the most exciting opportunities for digital inkjet paper may not even be paper advancements itself. Rather, new equipment technologies and new ink products are being designed to make the most of the current paper stocks. For example, there is inkjet equipment such as our ImageStream 3500 and TruePress HD520, that can run conventional papers along with inkjet treated stocks, which provides a distinct advantage for campaigns that run a combination of conventional and digital work.
As with any change, some products are more readily available than others. In the five or so years that IWCO Direct has been working with treated paper products for color inkjet, more mills and more mill products have entered the market. Of course, some products and mills are also no longer available.
Factors to Consider When Selecting Paper for Direct Mail
Selecting the right paper stock is extremely important when creating attractive, impactful and effective campaigns using color digital inkjet technology. In order to find the best match for your campaign, it’s important to consider what kind of content will be printed (people, animals, objects, etc.). It’s also important to think about the ink coverage―there may be a range in ink coverages to consider, so the substrate may need to accommodate all coverages. And don’t forget to take into account the processes the paper will go through after printing.
While the same categories of paper exist in both color inkjet and conventional varieties (book weight and cover weight; coated and uncoated), the biggest differentiator is that papers treated for inkjet production have limited options depending on the type of equipment it’s being run on. Papers can be treated for pigment-based inks or dye-based inks, and there are some hybrid options as well.
Testing is a Crucial Element with Any Production Change
The biggest challenge with any paper stock is how the color gamut can vary based on the substrate, and there is more variability with the inkjet grades. With any new substrate, we conduct detailed testing to ensure it will meet our clients’ expectations. Our purchasing team works closely with our suppliers to test new products as they become available. Our Color Technical team conducts extensive internal evaluations, and new testing is required whenever there is an ink upgrade. We also utilize the expertise of several Certified G7 Experts we have on staff, and our mill partners have made their resources available as well.
As I noted in the beginning of the article, paper continues to evolve. There are more caliper grades available today for digital inkjet, and more opportunities to use non-treated products. It’s exciting to think what will be available to us even a year from now.
If you have any questions about what inkjet paper is right for your direct mail campaigns, please let me know. Happy New Year!
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