CHOOSING INKJET CANVAS： FOUR THINGS TO CONSIDER
Inkjet canvas material is a popular way to add aesthetic appeal to photographs, illustrations, and artwork output on wide-format inkjet printers. Originally designed to print reproductions of paintings (giclées), inkjet canvas is now widely used to print portraits and landscape photographs for home or office décor, retail displays, and signs for museum or gallery exhibitions. Inkjet canvas not only imparts a sense of artistry, but can also be easier to hang and display,
A “gallery-wrap” canvas print doesn’t require the extra expense of added weight of a wooden frame with glass or acrylic. It’s called a “wrap” because the canvas is stretched and fastened around the edges of four wooden “stretcher” bars are joined to form different sizes of squares and rectangles.
Wraps can be made manually, or with automatic stretching equipment designed for studios that produce a lot of wraps every day. Inkjet canvas vendors such as Innova have developed systems to make it easy and economical for individuals and small businesses to convert inkjet canvas prints into wraps for shorter term displays.
Freedom Paper offers a vast selection of inkjet canvas rolls from brands such as Hahnemuhle, Innova, Moab, Sihl, Kodak, Magic, HP, and Canon. These products vary in terms of whiteness level, amount of polyester content, thickness, weave, and surface finish.
Here are a few questions that can help you narrow down your choices:
1. What type of printer and ink do you use?
Some inkjet canvases are designed for use with the aqueous pigment inks used on Canon image PROGRAFs, HP Designjets, and Epson Stylus Pro wide-format inkjet photo and graphic printers. Some inkjet canvas can be printed with aqueous dye inks, but the prints may not last very long.
Some older models of technical, CAD, and office printers weren’t designed to handle photo and art canvases that are more than 11 to 15 mils thick and weight 400gsm (grams per square meter). Before ordering, check your printer’s manual to see the maximum thickness of print media your printer can handle.
A growing number of inkjet canvases are designed for use on printers that use latex inks, solvent, or UV-curable inks for higher volume jobs. The Freedom Paper website clearly indicates which inkjet canvas products are compatible with which types of printer ink.
2. What is your application?
The canvas you choose for short-term event, retail, or exhibition graphics will be different than the canvas you would choose for heirloom portraits, wedding photographs, fine art reproductions, or décor prints. Budget-friendly inkjet canvas is available for prints that will be displayed for less than a year or so.
Expect to pay a bit more for a premium, water-resistant, acid-free canvas that offers exceptional longevity or durability. In addition to dye inks, factors that limit print life on inkjet canvas include optical brightening additives (OBAs), acidity, and exposure to humidity, abrasion, and airborne pollutants. With a water-resistant inkjet canvas, you can add a water-based clearcoat that has been specifically made to protect inkjet canvas prints.
If your print must last a long time or will be displayed in a brightly lit, high-traffic area, you will need to apply a protective clearcoat. The clearcoat can be rolled or sprayed on to seal the print surface and extend its resistance to UV light.
3. What type of print surface will best enhance your images?
A visible canvas texture can affect the look of the image. If you are reproducing softly colored impressionistic paintings that were originally created on a textured art canvas, then you may want the print to replicate that textured surface. But if you are printing portraits or landscape photographs on canvas, you might prefer a smooth canvas so facial skin tones look even and straight lines and fine details aren’t visually disrupted by a roughly textured surface.
The canvas texture (or “tooth”) comes from how the canvas was woven. The ratio of the weave (1:1 or 2:1) refers to the number of threads running vertically and horizontally. In general, a 2:1 weave provides more texture, but texture also depends on the diameter of the threads, how tightly the threads are woven, and the thickness of the coating used to protect the printed image.
If most of the images you reproduce have deep blacks and shadow details, choose a canvas with a high Dmax. Images with bright, vivid colors reproduce better on a bright-white canvas with a semi-gloss or gloss surface.
Matte canvas surfaces are popular for photographs and displays because they don’t reflect glare from overhead lights. Matte canvases are also more versatile, because if you want your print to have a semi-gloss or glossy look, you can apply a semi-gloss or gloss clearcoat.
4. How will the prints be finished?
Most inkjet canvas today is made from a blend of polyester and cotton. While inkjet canvas with a higher percentage of polyester might not feel as “natural” as a cotton canvas, the high-polyester canvas will be easier to stretch, will print more consistently, and will be more resistant to humid conditions. An all-cotton art canvas may expand or shrink depending on the environmental conditions.
“Production” canvases for higher volume reproduction of photographs are designed to dry quickly and stretch easily so they can be finished and delivered more quickly.