How to Make Canvas Printing Work for You, Part 2: Printer Technologies for Canvas

Sunset Reserve Bright Matte Canvas Print
Printing fine-art photography on Sunset Reserve Bright Matte Canvas with the HP Designjet aqueous printer at Art Warehouse, Chattanooga.

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. As noted in the previous installment, your clientele and market focus will ultimately dictate the choices you make regarding canvas materials and finishes. And so it goes with your choice in printer technology.

Though the volume you produce in canvas is an important element, it’s only one element of many that need to be considered to find the right printer. Those elements include:

  • Your current print production and application mix
  • What you want that print production and application mix to be in the future, and the clientele you aim to capture
  • The expectations of your clientele: do they require almost perfect fidelity to the original, are they more concerned about producing multiple prints at an economical price with short turn-arounds, or somewhere in between?
  • Your capital equipment budget, both initially and over the long haul of the printer’s life
  • How much post-print finishing you’re willing to do and how much finishing adds to your overall production time and costs

The choices in wide-format printing used to be fairly simple, but this simplicity also brought limitations. With the introduction of more affordable and reliable printers using solvent, latex and UV-curable ink sets, the potential applications became much more varied and print durability became less of an issue.

Canvas by AW Artworks
Point of sale gallery wraps by AW Artworks printed on Sunset Production Matte Canvas with a Canon iPF8300 aqueous inkjet printer.

Each wide-format printing technology – aqueous, solvent, latex and UV-curable – has certain characteristics that need to be taken into account based on each print shop’s goals, capital equipment budget and operating environment. While there may not be such a thing as the perfect printer, there is an ideal printer waiting to be used to its full potential.

Water Works: Aqueous-Based Printers
Aqueous-based printers, so called because the ink used is primarily water mixed with either dyes or pigments, are widely used for canvas printing and typically offer the best image quality. Most print shops have moved to pigmented inks because these inks provide a more durable print than dye inks; pigmented inks are now the standard.

Often referred to as UV inks for their ability to resist UV light, they should not be confused with UV-curable inks, which are discussed in the final section of this installment. The advent of pigmented inks for aqueous printers eliminated much of the laminating previously needed for prints using dye-based inks for short-term outdoor and long-term indoor applications.

However, it is still recommended that you coat aqueous inkjet canvas prints so they’re protected from environmental factors and to help ensure they won’t crack on the edges when they’re stretched.

Film laminates are rarely used for canvas prints, mainly due to aesthetic reasons. Liquid coatings enhance the canvas texture and provide a more “painted” or artistic look, and come in gloss, satin and matte to provide different finishes.

Film lamination is recommended for other print materials when you need extra rigidity, a different texture, protection from people picking or chipping away at the graphics, specialty applications (floor and vehicle graphics, for instance) or to gain about 20 percent added durability for longer-term outdoor signage (more than six months).

Along with the development of pigmented inks, there have been a plethora of printable media – from photo papers, polypropylenes and polycarbonates to fabrics– optimized for these inks that provide excellent color reproduction and greater longevity.

In other words, if you’re doing a variety of applications, including canvas prints, aqueous printers will fill the bill for most of those.

Following is a rundown of aqueous-based printing’s strengths and weaknesses, based on the latest printers from Canon, Epson and HP

Cost: Aqueous printers have a significantly lower cost of entry. You can get a 42-inch or 44-inch wide printer for $3,000-$8,000 or a 60-inch unit for $10,000-$13,000, as opposed to $16,000-$30,000 for an entry-level solvent printer, around $20,000 for a latex printer, and more than $60,000 for an entry-level UV-curable printer. The greatest cost will be on the finishing side. You don’t have to coat aqueous prints, but as noted above it’s recommended that you do. From print to ship, expect to add at least 48 hours to production since you should wait 24 hours before coating and 24 hours before stretching. The coating step obviously adds labor and the cost of the coating to the equation as well. There are a lot of companies that run multiple aqueous printers to keep up with demand, but have usually added automation in the finishing department, such as coating machines and canvas stretching machines, which will be discussed in subsequent installments. Even with automation, the lag time between printing and shipping is an important consideration. The most important element in the cost-to-print equation is finishing since time and labor are the largest cost factors in the print process. Some studies of the cost-to-print put ink and media as less than 10 percent of the total operation costs.

Maintenance: Aqueous printers require little maintenance, other than keeping the production area as clean as possible.

Operation: They are virtually plug-and-play, so there is very little time lost tweaking the printers for different materials. Because of their relatively simple operation, they are the most reliable printers over the long haul. Moreover, with the more complicated latex, solvent and UV-curable printers the addition of a RIP (Raster Image Processor) software is necessary, requiring additional training and knowledge.

Quality: You typically get a nicer-looking print with a wider color gamut at production speeds than you do with other printing technologies. The wider the color gamut, however, the slower the print speed. When you’re researching printers ask about speeds in the highest-quality mode.

Applications: Though aqueous is versatile enough for almost any application, including canvas, specialty applications like vehicle wraps are more difficult and time-consuming to accomplish than they are with solvent and latex printers (UV-curable printers are not ideal for vehicle graphics, or stretched canvas, since the ink tends to crack when stretched around corners or rivets and over stretcher bars in the case of canvas).

Speed: This is actually somewhat of a wash when compared to entry-level solvent printers, particularly with the latest technology, which prints about twice as fast as the previous generations. Basically, upgrading to any new printer – be it aqueous, solvent, latex or UV-curable – will increase production speed significantly.

Printheads: HP and Canon use thermal printheads, which don’t last as long as the piezo heads used in Epson’s printers and in most solvent printers. Fortunately, the cost of each thermal printhead is relatively low, and significantly lower than the cost to replace a piezo printhead.

For the rest of this series, click on the following links:

Part 1: Materials, Finishes and Textures

Part 3: Latex, Solvent and UV-Curable Printing

Part 4: Coating Canvas

Part 5: Canvas Wrap Options


Long List of Money Saving Inkjet Printer Rebates from Epson in February

Epson Inkjet Printer RebatesEpson has updated the rebates on its line of wide-format inkjet printers. The latest rebates from Epson are good through Feb. 28. Here are the rebate details, grouped by printer type (Stylus Pro aqueous, SureColor low solvent and Technical printers)…

Epson Stylus Pro Mail-In Rebates

Epson Stylus Pro Instant Rebates

Epson SureLab D-Series Mail-in Rebate: $2,000

Epson SureColor Instant Rebates

Epson SureColor T-Series Instant Rebates

For more information about the latest rebates, contact a LexJet customer specialist, who can also tell you about special bundle deals, at 800-453-9538.

And, to learn more about how to set up and operate Epson printers, go to the Epson Printers and Workflow playlist at LexJet’s YouTube Channel.

Fredrix Print Canvas at LexJet: Buy Two Rolls, Get One Free

Buy Two Rolls of Fredrix Print Canvas at LexJet and Get One Roll FrreeAs noted here earlier on the LexJet Blog, LexJet is now the exclusive distributor of Tara Materials’ venerable Fredrix Print Canvas line. To celebrate this partnership, get a free roll of Fredrix Print Canvas when you buy two rolls with your first order from LexJet. To take advantage of this offer, call a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538. The offer ends April 30 and is not available online.

The Fredrix Print Canvas line now available exclusively at LexJet includes…

Compatible with Aqueous Printers

  • Fredrix 901WR Pulse Matte Canvas is a 19-mil, neutral-white, poly/cotton canvas with a 2-over-1 weave. This water-resistant canvas is the perfect choice for artistic reproductions that require the look of a traditional artist canvas.
  • Fredrix 901VWR Crystal Matte Canvas is a 19-mil, bright-white, poly/cotton canvas with a 2-over-1 weave that renders an expansive color gamut and incredible Dmax. This matte canvas is the perfect choice for fine art or decorative gallery wraps that require a smooth yet subtle texture.
  • Fredrix 777VWR Vivid Matte Canvas is an 18-mil, bright-white, poly/cotton canvas with a 2-over-1 weave. This water-resistant canvas is the smoothest of the Fredrix aqueous canvas line, making it the perfect choice for highly detailed, photographic, decorative gallery wraps on canvas.

Compatible with Solvent, Low-Solvent, Latex and UV-Curable Printers

  • Fredrix 575SMJ Tempo Semi-Matte Canvas is a lightweight, poly/cotton blend canvas with a 1-over-1 weave and a semi-matte finish. It is perfect for high-value products created in high production environments, and is well-suited for gallery wraps, décor, point-of-purchase, and more.
  • Fredrix 901SJ Select Matte Canvas is a high-performing, natural white, 2-over-1 poly/cotton blend canvas that is the perfect medium for artistic reproductions. The matte finish very closely emulates true artist canvas, and is perfect for gallery-wraps, art reproductions, décor, and point-of-purchase displays.
  • Fredrix 901SGSJ Artisan Semi-Gloss Canvas is the perfect choice for a high-quality, high-value semi-gloss canvas.  This poly/cotton blend, 2-over-1 canvas is specially engineered to create beautiful prints with the latest solvent, eco-solvent, and latex inks, providing a wide color gamut, exceptional Dmax, and a consistent, subtle texture.

For more information, and for help finding the right inkjet media for your project, contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538 or go to Be sure to ask about the Buy Two Get One Free Fredrix Print Canvas promotion, which ends April 30.

Cash in on Winter Aqueous Printer Promotions from HP

HP inkjet printer promotionsHP has kicked off two New Year’s promotions for its line of aqueous printers, including the HP Designjet Cash In & Trade Up Winter 2013 promotion and the HP StartRight Program.

Cash In & Trade Up
HP’s Cash In & Trade Up Winter promotion gives cash back when you trade in your eligible old printer and purchase or lease any qualifying new HP Designjet Z6200 42” or 60” Photo Printer with a full set of qualifying inks between now and Jan. 31.

If you’re returning an eligible trade-in printer for the HP Z6200 60” printer you’ll get $3,500 back. If you’re not returning a trade-in printer, you get $2,000 back. Add an HP Care Pack (three-year new business day onsite support) and you’ll get an additional $125 back.

If you’re returning an eligible trade-in printer for the HP Z6200 42” printer you’ll get $2,250 back. If you’re not returning a trade-in printer, you get $1,500 back. Add an HP Care Pack (three-year new business day onsite support) and you’ll get an additional $125 back.

You can also trade in your eligible old printer and purchase or lease a qualifying new HP Designjet T790 44” ePrinter and receive $500 cash back. Add an HP Care Pack for an additional $50 back.

HP StartRight Program
With the HP StartRight Program, receive up to $300 in free HP large-format media when you purchase or lease a qualifying new HP Designjet T, Z or L2 Series printer all the way through the end of this year.

For complete promotion details, a list of qualifying trade-in printers, and the latest rebates from Canon, Epson and HP, contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538.

New Year’s Inkjet Printer Rebates from Epson

Low solvent inkjet printerTo help ring in the New Year, Epson just announced its latest round of mail-in and instant rebates available through LexJet. The mail-in rebates listed below are good through Jan. 31 and the instant rebates are good through Feb. 28…

Mail-In Rebates
$100 for the Stylus Pro 4900 w/ UltraChrome HDR Ink
$250 for the Stylus Pro 3880 w/ UltraChome K3 Ink, Stylus Pro 3880 Signature Worthy Edition and Stylus Pro 3880 Designer Edition
for the Stylus Pro 4900 Designer Edition

Instant Rebates
$500 for the Stylus Pro 7890 w/ UltraChrome K3 Ink
$750 for the Stylus Pro 7900 w/ UltraChrome HDR Ink, Stylus Pro 9890 w/ UltraChrome K3 Ink,  and Stylus Pro 9890 Designer Edition printers
$1,000 for the Stylus Pro 9900 w/ UltraChrome HDR Ink and the SureColor S30670 low-solvent 64″ printer
$2,000 for the Stylus Pro 11880 w/ UltraChrome K3 Ink

For more information about these rebates and to find out about bundle deals from LexJet, contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538.

Monday through New Year’s Eve: Upgrade to Latex for Cash Back

Winter promotion on HP Designjet latex printersStarting Monday, Nov. 26, aka Cyber Monday, you can trade in your 42″ or wider aqueous or 30″ or wider solvent printer/printer-cutter and get $3,000 cash back when you buy an HP Designjet L26500 61-inch latex printer.

Right now, you can trade in your large-format aqueous or solvent printer/printer-cutter (54″ or wider) and get $10,000 cash back, or trade in a 42″-53″ aqueous or 30″-53″ solvent printer/printer-cutter wider and get $6,000 cash back when you purchase an HP Designjet L28500 104-inch latex printer.

These Upgrade to Latex Winter 2012 promotional deals are good through Dec. 31 and claims must be submitted by Jan. 31, 2013.

Plus, with the HP StartRight Program, receive up to $300 in free HP large-format media with the purchase of select HP Designjet printers. Go to for more information.

For complete promotion details and a claim form for the HP Upgrade to Latex Winter 2012 promotion, click here or contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538.

For all Canon, Epson and HP printer rebates available at LexJet, go to