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How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Inkjet

(February 2014) posted on Fri Feb 14, 2014

Inkjet has managed to thaw even this old squeegee-holic’s heart.

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By Andy MacDougall

My editor told me this issue’s theme was going to be inkjet, but quickly added I could write about another topic. Somehow, he got the idea I was not enamored with inkjet printing. I wonder why? (Editor’s note: Because I’ve read your columns before.)

Here’s the thing: I’m old enough to have come up through shops where they cut stencils by hand. I’ve operated large litho cameras and midsize stat cameras to size art and make film positives. I used hot wax, and not to remove body hair. I’ve printed short-run 4 x 8-ft process-color jobs and made enough one-off display and exhibition prints to equip a medium-sized museum—all on screen presses.

So I appreciate the inkjet printer and all it does for today’s screen shops. Thinking back on all those old-school “silk-screening” applications, I honestly have to say that in the 19 years since I first saw wide-format digital printers (an SGIA show in St. Louis, if my dim lacquer-soaked brain is still functioning), I seem to have developed, if not a flat-out heart-pounding love for these ink-spitting monsters, at least a friends-with-benefits relationship. I still get a thrill from the squeegee and the screen, but the fact of the matter is that inkjet is pretty good looking. Weirder still—and this may explain the growing attraction—the older inkjet gets, the better it looks and the cheaper it gets (at least on the initial date).

One thing I have noticed: Inkjet printers don’t care who you used to go out with (screen printers, offset printers, quick printers, photographers, sign shops, etc.). They’ll share your affections and your jobs. They’re always eager to please and don’t mind taking over chores that you used to do with your old production equipment (which, let’s be frank, wasn’t showing you much love anyway). Like an old flame from high school, things changed and you moved on.


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