Paper Types: the choices
Paper for office use can be as light as newsprint or as heavy as cardboard, although the weight for standard office use range between 75-90 gsm, whilst card and cover papers can be anywhere in the range of 200-300gsm. The range of paper types is vast and complex, and some careful thought is required to achieve the best results. Here we outline some important issues
Paper Types: Some Features
Paper can be defined by its weight (generally gsm but in lbs in the USA) and thickness affecting handling characteristics (especially important for photo papers). The brightness index refers to the amount of light reflected from the paper’s surface – more light reflected means crisper text and better photo backgrounds. Hewlett-Packard, for example, refer to “Bright White” for its inkjet series and Premium Choice for laser printing.
For duplex, or 2-sided printing, the opacity is important – especially for example when creating brochures or newsletters, where it is undesirable to have printing on pages showing through from the other side. The finish is also important in this context, with an increasing range of matte, semi-gloss and gloss finishes, and several grades in between.
In the context of photo production paper smoothness is important. Smoothness governs how text and pictures appear on the page, and this is different for Laser papers, where greater smoothness ensure good fusion of toner to the page, whilst for Inkjet printers, a different level of absorption capability is needed for the application of ink drops.
Paper Handling – for Printers
To minimise paper jam and double-feeding problems, even in the best quality printers, it is important to respect the way in which the paper is handled and stored.
Prior to use, for example, it is generally accepted that paper should be allowed to acclimatise at least 48 hours in the environment in which it will be used. Before loading the paper, it is best to fan the sheets on all four sides. This creates a small layer of air between the sheets which helps paper feeding.
It is not a good idea to stack heavier materials. It is best to feed such heavier media into the printer one sheet at a time.
Of course it is obvious advice, to load materials according to the instructions in the printer owner’s manual. Recommended feeding is generally to use the straightest path through the printer.
In general it is not a necessity to stick with manufacturers branded paper. In practice, of course, it is easier to do so: but costs can be saved by using a substitutepaper and applying the above handling rules, as well as checking compatibility and paper characteristics issues to avoid jamming and multi-feeding, as well as disappointing end-results.
Paper Handling – Photocopiers and All-in-One Devices
With each new generation of photocopier and multifunctional device, manufacturers such as Konica Minolta and Canon have developed high levels of automated handling capability. The initial pre-requisite for all photocopying tasks is to establish the right paper weight and type. Most photocopier systems these days will handle a maximum somewhere between 200 300g paper – and it not a case of the more you spend on a machine the heavier paper it will handle. This varies from model to model and is something which manufacturers look to increase with each new machine/range of machines as their paper feed technology becomes more sophisticated
Configureable Photocopier Solutions for Paper Handling
A wide range of configurable photocopier solutions are now available which enable, for example, use of multi trays for different paper types/colours and a Bypass Tray for high density paper and card. Many systems are available with optional “bolt-on” modules to handle folding, stitching and stapling for each defined task. The lastest All-in-One from Konica Minolta is a quality example of exactly such a versatile machine – with paper-handling for up to 256gsm in its main feeder trays, 300gsm in its bypass tray – plus a set of optional complex functions made simple through design.
These continuously-upgraded developments enable sophisticated production for short and long runs which only a few years ago would always be outsourced due to their complexity.