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I have a requirement to be able to print graphics and text on transparency (just black). We use those to then create plates for labels. The output needs to be solid (not pixels) as any light passing through during the plate making process shows.

What I have been using to print these is a simple HP LaserJet 1020 using FastRes 1200 (and "Print all text as black"). This older printer did quite well. All new printers (even the newer HP with the same settings) leaves tiny holes which don't work in the plate making process.

I see many conversations around inkjets but I always though inkjets didn't make clearly defined lines?

Does anyone have a suggestion for what type of printer I need to start using to get a solid filled black? Sending each of these to a print shop to create a single 1.5"x3" transparency doesn't seem cost effective as printing them myself.

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Laser is really the only way to do this - you just cant get the density with inkjet.

You will need to persist - maybe contact HP directly for advice.

  • I actually contacted HP and there answer was "buy a printer and see if it works. If not then you can return it in 30 days". Unfortunately I've been through 2 printers already from them and nothing prints like this old one. I suspect they are too fast and just don't get the charge on the media (therefore less toner) to get a solid fill. This HP 1020 you can actually feel the toner on the transparency while the newer printers it feels much lighter and when you look at it through magnification you see a big difference in the quality (the old one is superior). – Broof Mar 10 '16 at 14:54
  • I wonder if the "holes" you refer to are actually some sort of static charge rejection from the clear media itself? (acetate?) – Digital Lightcraft Mar 12 '16 at 21:30
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Hum. Are you doing silk printing? Why you need to print that small? Can you print a letter sized group of labels?

The quality of that process is very inferior compared to direct to photographic film. Even laser printers do not give you a realy sharp edge becouse it is made out of dust fixed on the paper.

If you are doing silk printing you can try if possible, lower the output resolution, for example from 1200 to 600 and see if that makes you a more solid text.

Some ideas

(This post will need some editing becouse on this case I do not know the exact term in english)

Do not print to transparency (acetate) but on vegetal paper. I dont know the name in english but it is the one architects used to make the original plans on a house using ink https://www.google.com.mx/search?q=albanene&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj_renH9LPLAhVHvoMKHTrXBd8Q_AUIBygB&biw=1858&bih=987

or synthetic translucent paper, I think it is polyester based: https://www.google.com.mx/search?q=herculene&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=70DgVru3BIS-jgT-rIvQBQ

  • Not silk printing. We print a graphic on transparent media which is then put in a machine that basically shines ultraviolet light through the media creating a printing plate which is then put in a print press to put labels on cases. If there are tiny holes in the original print they actually do show up on the final plate. – Broof Mar 10 '16 at 14:59
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After a lot of trial and error and finally doing the sensible thing and speaking to the manufacturer of our plate making machine it would appear the answer is: 1. Only use InkJet (preferably Epson) printers. 2. The stock Epson ink will not work (no wonder my testing failed) 3. You need Dye Black Ink (www.buyarip.com in US or www.screentec.ca) 4. You can't go to Staples for the film transparency (see above sites) 5. AccuRIP driver for managing the printer with multiple black ink cartridges.

So my recommendation is make it easy. Buy Epson Artisan 1430 and get the cartridges from one of these sites that are already filled with the correct ink and the film from them and buy the AccuRIP driver.

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