*NEWS*BEWARE OF PAPER TIGERS
*NEWS*BEWARE OF PAPER TIGERS
2006-02-27 at 10:35:00 am #14632
Beware of paper tigers
They might look the same as the genuine article, but they could let you down
feb06WHEN it comes to home photo printing, there’s a feeling among consumers that printer manufacturers recommend their own ink and paper because this is how they make more money out of the deal.
But the major photo-printer makers say the reality is simple: they’re acting in our best interests by matching their printers, inks and papers through the entire development and manufacturing process to give the best results, reliability and longevity possible.
Connect asked the big three in home-photo printing — HP, Canon and Epson — the question: “Why should consumers always use your paper and inks with your printers? And what happens if they don’t?”
These were their answers:
SOME photo-paper brands may claim compatibility with Canon printers, but they don’t usually deliver the same results or the simplicity of using Canon photo paper.
Canon has dedicated considerable resources to the research and development of Canon inks and photo paper to ensure Canon printer owners consistently and easily obtain best-quality photos.
The combination of Canon’s ChromaLife100 inks and selected Canon photo papers allows photos printed at home to last as long as, if not longer than, photos developed by labs.
INK and photo paper are more than just “consumables” — they function as key components of the printing engine.
Because HP carefully co-designs the printer, ink and photo paper together as a system, the net result of using HP inks and papers is maximum reliability and ease-of-use during the printing, and the best print quality in the full sense of the word “quality”.
Consider the reliability/use of the printer.
A non-HP ink can potentially cause a multitude of unforeseen problems (short term or long term) within the printhead/cartridge.
Glued areas can slowly delaminate because of chemical incompatibility. Tiny channels and orifices can get plugged because ink designs are not “torture tested” with the same rigour as HP inks — and after all, because only HP engineers truly know what is inside the printhead, only HP can design the full set of tests for predicting real-world behaviors.
A non-HP photo paper can have slight amounts of curl or friction behavior when grabbed by a printer roller that is just out of the allowable specification for that printer.
So 10 sheets may print fine, but the 11th might misfeed.
The result may be as benign as a slightly crooked print — or slight “banding” within the print — or may be as severe as a paper jam that may damage the printer or printhead.
Now, let’s consider the quality of the output.
A non-HP ink will, by definition, not use the exclusive colourants contained in genuine HP ink. So colours are different than what was intended by the engineer who designed and optimised the “colour maps” in the printer.
And, perhaps more seriously, the display permanence of the print will be much less than what is obtained with the innovative colourants used in genuine HP inks.
If one looks over Wilhelm Imaging Research’s results, genuine OEM inks typically outlast aftermarket inks by a factor of 20X or more in terms of the print longevity.
These comments can also be made, in general, about the HP photo-paper advantage.
There are countless reasons why the HP ink/paper/printer system provides the best solution.
Aftermarket inks or papers can come close in some attributes, but in the overall range, they do not even come close.
Consumer Reports, a highly respected publication, concluded that aftermarket inks represent false economy.
TESTS show that third-party inks require more head cleaning on an inkjet printer and cause more blockages than genuine inks.
Hence, though the initial purchase may cost less, you get to use less of the ink for printing.
Every ink has some fixed and some variable characteristics — viscosity and temperature are two key ones.
Every type of paper has its own characteristics — absorption rate and permeability are two keys ones.
To achieve optimal print quality, every printer vendor programs its printer drivers with the known characteristics of their own ink and paper types.
Epson printers, for example, have a look-up table of how viscosity of the ink in the printer (known by the printer talking to the chip on the ink cartridge) varies with temperature, and the printer also has a small thermometer to measure ink temperature.
When these are known, the printer automatically varies the droplet size and shape — and sometimes angle of firing — to match the current viscosity of the Epson ink, so you get an optimal printing result according to the type of Epson paper the ink is being applied to.
If either the ink or the paper is not genuine Epson, then their precise characteristics are unknown to the printer; they are alien substances.
The printer will then apply ink to the paper in the way that is optimal for Epson ink and paper, which in all likelihood will not be correct for an alien ink-paper mix so the result will be of less quality.
Quality here means not only the immediately obvious quality of the print, but also fade, water and scratch resistance.
Again the printer vendors formulate their inks to get the maximum print life with their recommended printing papers.
As you can see from Wilhelm’s independent testing (www.wilhelmresearch.com), print life of more than 100 years is not uncommon for Epson’s pigment inks on Epson papers.
No third-party ink vendor makes pigment-based printing inks for the consumer market. What you get is third-party vendors offering replacement cartridges filled with dye-based ink for Epson printers designed to use pigment inks.
A quick check of the Wilhelm site again will show you that dye inks do not last as long as pigment inks do on their matching papers.
The third-party vendors do not tell their customers they are replacing pigment ink with dye.