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Solvent vs. Water Based Printing


Do your needs fit solvent or water-based printing? Find out in this post.

Speed and Efficiency

Solvent printers (such as the Roland SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640) are generally faster than water based (such as the Epson Stylus Pro 9880, Epson Stylus Pro 9800, Epson 7800, and Epson 4800) at producing giclee prints.

Commercial printer businesses predominately use solvent printing machines.

Usually 25-50% more efficient, solvent printing is geared more for production and is an industrial type machine.

These printers are designed to print wide 64″ rolls and above. They are also wider in diameter and higher in weight media capacity.

Cost of Ownership and Consumables

Solvent printing technology is designed for everyday long-term and high volume production runs.

They are built to last and are total workhorses! We know of companies that have used the same machines in production for over 8 years and going.

You will not have to upgrade or update your hardware every few years like most aqueous technology.

Solvent inks cost 50-75% less than water based ink – this is a substantial savings considering it is the most expensive consumable you purchase!

Inkjet media-like canvas and papers are cost saving components. This varies, of course, with the quality of the substrate and if there is an inkjet coating layer applied to the base.

Solvent ink does not require an inkjet receptive coating, but it will indefinitely improve the output.

No Coating Saves Time and Money

The most important advantage of solvent inks is that there is no top-coating required. This means no giclee varnish or coating is necessary to properly protect your prints.

Just print on canvas, gallery wrap your prints, and ship them out!

This advantage eliminates a huge step in the production process.

You’ll no longer have to handle the waste incurred through coating/spraying user error, and you’ll save yourself a ton of time not having to wait for laminations to dry on every print.

In terms of cost, this added speed means you’ll enjoy a ~50% increase to turnaround times.

And of course there’s the cost of the coating chemistry itself, which ranges from $30-$110 per container.

Finally, you eliminate the cost of labor that is needed to apply canvas varnish.


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