Eric Wiesner, General Manager of HP PageWide Industrial Division provides background on HP’s decision to expand the range of media compatibility for HP devices using a pre-coat or primer rather than adding additional solvents, resins and other chemistry to the ink. While initially focused on the difference in approach between primer and “super inks,” Wiesner also makes the important point about overall costs. He says that even though using primer may be less expensive than using enhanced inks that enable printing on (some) offset stocks, using papers that are already treated or inkjet coated (Door #3) is cheaper than both options. Further, he underscores that the difference in cost between offset papers and inkjet papers is a matter of scale. If more companies were using inkjet treated and coated paper grades, rather than investing more money to avoid using them, we might significantly narrow the price gap. Right now, even with inkjet grades selling at a premium, they are still less expensive than offset grades plus primer or offset grades plus the cost of using “super inks.” Food for thought.
Of course there are other things to take into consideration:
- With primer, you only use it when you need it. With enhanced ink sets you add the extra cost for every drop.
- Cost is not the only factor – print quality and consistency across printing processes may be a factor.
- Inkjet paper supply is currently volatile and the ability to print on a wider array of media can be seen as a defensive posture with potential shortages.
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