Within the category of Ink Jet canvas reside other denominations. There are many commercial and private uses for canvas prints, limited only by the consumer's imagination. Some of the most common providers of canvas prints are print shops, photo labs and photography studios, fine art reproductions, and sign companies.
The customers who seek out canvas prints include those wanting to begin a personal collection of high quality fine art prints or explore a new option for wedding, newborn or family picture display, art galleries offering a lower cost alternative to purchasing originals, businesses seeking signage for advertising or their store front, or artists who have decided to offer limited edition or open edition prints of their work.
PRINTED CANVAS INKS
The inks used for fine art (giclée) printing are called aqueous (water-based) inks. However, there are other types of inks that are used for other printing purposes. Sign printing companies often use solvent inks, which are longer lasting in outdoor conditions, unlike a fine art print that is intended for indoor use. Though originally solvent inks were so caustic they soaked into any surface, today the inks require a special treatment on the canvas prior to printing to ensure adhesion. Solvent inks soak deeper into the canvas, permeating the layers of fabric like a tattoo. This allows the ink to withstand the harsher outdoor environment.
Though solvent-printed canvases are very durable, and don't require lamination or coating after printing. Printers using solvent ink tend to print more quickly and therefore are more efficient than aqueous Ink Jet printers. The lack of post-printing coating also saves time in production. Solvent inks also tend to be cheaper than aqueous inks.
Solvent ink-printed canvases are generally lower quality than those printed with aqueous inks. This is usually not a problem, since outdoor signage tends to be large, without small details, in order to be easily seen and recognized from a difference. Despite its durability against the elements, solvent inks do begin to fade over time, due to their constant exposure to moisture and sunlight. This is offset, however, by their lower cost, therefore making them more feasible to replace.
MATERIALS AND WEIGHTS
There are three fabrics most often used for Ink Jet canvas. Each one offers different qualities, and the best selection will depend on the project for which the final print will be used.
Polyester-Cotton Blend: Since Artist canvases are often made of cotton, this type of canvas combines the sought-after texture of a cotton weave with a color consistency more suited to mass production, provided by the polyester. Generally approximately a 60/40 poly-cotton mix, this combination ensures that from print to print, and roll to roll, the canvas and image are as uniform as possible.
Polyester: Less expensive than those containing cotton, polyester canvas is often used for large-scale products. It has a smoother surface, which can appeal to photographers who want to ensure all the details of their photographic prints are highly visible in the reproduction. However, for artists who want their copy to look just like the original, 100% polyester is a less popular choice.
Cotton: 100% cotton canvas is most like traditional artist canvas. It has a deeper texture, but due to the use of natural fibers, it is impossible to ensure the color will remain the same throughout the canvas roll. As a result, cotton canvas is less than ideal for anyone producing multiple prints of the same image, or a series that will be displayed together.
In addition to the materials used in construction, the tightness of the weave can make a considerable difference in the final appearance of a canvas. A tightly woven canvas is called "duck" canvas, while a looser weave is referred to as "plain". In addition, whether threads are laid in single thickness or doubled over before being woven on the loom will change the texture as well. But regardless of the texture of the raw canvas, the coatings applied to make it possible to print on will inevitably lessen that texture. More on that later.
Canvas weight is generally measured in ounces per square yard. Thread thickness, thread count and the tightness of the weave all contribute to the weight of the finished canvas. In general, Ink Jet canvas is heavier than artist's canvas, and usually weighs between 16 and 20 oz. While the heavier the canvas, the more durable it is throughout the stretching process, these options are often more expensive as well. Much like the canvas material, the customer can base their choice on either price or appearance.