Printing fine art papers

Printing fine art papers

This post will be of interest to very few, but it has some good tips for those experiencing problems so I’m posting it anyway.  If you don’t print fine art papers then skip it – you’ll be bored to death.

I have been using a beautiful paper made by German company Hahnemuhle.  It’s an archival grade matte paper called ‘Photo Rag’, quite heavy at 308 gsm.  The prints I get are fantastic.  The trouble is, my Epson R800 was not designed for such heavy papers.  It does not have a ‘straight-through’ option for the paper path so they don’t feed well at all.   Even when I can get them to feed, after a few copies are printed the paper starts to slip on the rollers causing loss of register, jams or simply refuses to feed.

However, I found a couple of really good tips on the web that have solved my problems completely.

To get the paper to feed, I simply cut a strip from the short end of an A4 sheet of ordinary copier paper and tape it carefully to the edge of the fine art sheet.  I measure the new length of this ‘composite’ sheet and set the paper dimensions accordingly in Photoshop.  I set the image position in Photoshop to place in correctly in the fine art sheet (that is much more difficult to explain without pictures than it is to do in Photoshop!)  For example, if the strip adds say 50mm to the overall length, then I position the image 50mm further back from the leading edge of the paper.  (You can practice with oprdinary paper first, if you are worried about wasting expensive fine art sheets.) When I load the paper, the printer will grab the strip of copier paper and feed the sheet correctly, even though it must pass through quite an angle to reach the printhead..

The slippage is a different problem altogether, caused by shedding of fibres and filler from the surface of the much bulkier fine art paper.  These build up on the feed rollers of the printer. causing them to slip.  They are not very accessible at all, but can be cleaned quite easily.  I have a small spray bottle (the sort used to hold spectacle lens cleaner) which is filled with isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol).  That can usually be bought fairly cheaply at a chemist.  I spray a new sheet of copier sheet with the alcohol, then run it through the printer a dozen times or so, using the form feed button.  The buildup is softened by the alcohol and picked up by the paper sheet.

(Can you tell that I just love paper?  I used to be technical manager at a paper mill so still get off on the technical stuff!)

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