Choose the correct roll width
HP DesignJets come in many different sizes. As a general rule of thumb if you know that you have an A1 printer then you should only purchase paper 24 inches wide (or smaller) – anything larger just won’t fit in your printer.
If you have an A0 printer then this can be a little more tricky. Traditional A0 is 33.1 inches wide, but different A0 printers are designed to use roll widths of 36 inch, 42 inch, 44 inch or 60 inch. All of these are called ‘A0 printers’ but they’re actually larger than A0. If you have a 44 inch printer then you’ll be able to use 24 inch, 33 inch, 36 inch, 42 inch and 44 inch paper. Paper which is 60 inches wide obviously won’t fit. Often people are unsure of the width and try to measure the width of their printer – and end up buying a roll which is the approximate width of their machine, forgetting that the paper path of the printer is less than it’s width. If you’re not sure, you just need to check the specification of your printer to find out the maximum paper width and if you’re still unsure, just ask us!
Choose the correct roll length
Most CAD/Plain rolls of paper are around 45.7 metres long – and rolls of this length are suitable for all HP DesignJet models. However rolls are also manufactured in longer lengths e.g. 91.7 metres long. While it’s tempting to purchase these larger rolls on the basis of ‘the longer the length the cheaper the cost’, the fact remains that only certain DesignJets can be fitted with long length rolls- these are usually the more expensive A0 printers designed for high print volumes or unattended printing (not the low end or entry-level printers). Usually when you attempt to fit a 91.7 metre roll into a printer not built for that size, it simply just won’t fit into your printer.
Check the paper works well with your ink type
The paper/media you use has to be compatible with the type of ink used by your printer. DesignJets use either Pigment-based inks or Dye-based inks (or a combination of both). Some papers or medias are designed to work best with a particular ink type. Often you will see the word “Universal” – e.g. in the case of “Universal Bond” – this indicates it is ‘universally’ suitable for both Pigment and Dye-based inks but it won’t be suitable for Latex inks.
Check your printer capabilities with the paper weight (gsm)
Graphic Arts printers are designed to work with far heavier media weights than technical printers – so if you’re going for canvas or super heavyweight paper which is higher than 220gsm then check your printer specification first to ensure that your printer supports the weight. For example, if you use a printer which has not been designed for canvas printing, then you are unable to select ‘Canvas’ as the paper type. Graphics printers will have this option and the cutter is automatically switched off to stop it from becoming blunt. So, while you can use Canvas on your technical printer, you’d have to remember to manually disengage the cutter otherwise after a few passes it will quickly becomes blunt and requires replacement – and the additional stress on the motor may mean you’ll be faced with an unwelcome repair bill as well. (The other to be aware of is that when you use a technical printer to print graphics, the dye-based inks won’t give you the UV stabilisation and water-resistance of pigment inks and will be prone to fading.
Check the Core Size of paper
The core size of different paper rolls can vary (the core is what your paper wraps around and what you push your spindle through). Core sizes are usually either 2-inches or 3-inches wide. HP DesignJet printers tend to use 2-inch core rolls. This means you’d have to fit a (relatively inexpensive) core adaptor if you preferred to use paper with a 3-inch core.
Not all Paper is made equally
Coated paper has a coating which makes your prints “POP”. This is because the ink sits on top of the special coating rather than sinking down into the paper fibres. Coated paper costs more but it also uses less ink. When you tell your printer you’re using coated paper, it knows to tell your printer to lay less ink down. The increased cost of the paper is offset by the reduced cost of ink.
When manufacturer’s put their name to paper, it doesn’t mean that they ‘made’ the paper. They’ve purchased the paper from a large paper mill and tested it with their machines. Cheap paper has a lot of paper dust which affects the internal workings of printers and causes more wear and tear on components. Printer manufacturer’s choose paper with a low dust content. They also spend millions on special ‘recipes’ to create different specialist coatings using expensive ingredients but compete in a market where others use less expensive ingredients. You don’t necessarily see the difference visually immediately – sometimes years later you’ll suddenly find your paper has turned brown or yellow or broken down with cheaper paper. The general rule of thumb in this industry is that you get what you pay for.