Understanding Black Ink Types

If you thought there was only one kind of black ink that could be used in your printer, you are not alone. Many people aren’t aware that there are actually two kinds of black ink: matte and photo.
Matte black ink is most commonly used on non-coated paper, and will usually print darker. However, if used on coated paper such as photo paper, matte black ink will not dry.

Photo black ink was born when manufacturers were unable to get matte black ink to dry on coated paper. For this reason, photo black is used in applications where paper has been coated with semi-gloss, glossy, lustre or semi-matte layers.

Printing With The Correct Ink, Correctly

The printer drivers of the computer which communicates with the printer are what usually determine which ink is best for the type of paper it will be printed onto. Interestingly, this choice may or may not be available in the print dialog box. The good news is that there are printers which will switch ink types as necessary, depending on the type of printer paper that has been inserted.

Experimentation can be another way to ensure that the right ink has been chosen for the inkjet labels being used. The choice between photo black and matte black ink can be made manually if this option is available in the printer window. While a print job using photo black on uncoated paper may cause the print shade to be darker, it is highly unlikely that doing this will completely ruin a print job.

Because matte black ink will not dry properly on coated paper, printing in this way will require caution, as smudging can easily occur. In this case, it is probably best not to consider a document printed in this way to be a final product.
Should ink not dry when you print with matte black or you don’t observe an increase in darkness, photo black ink may be your best option? On the other hand, if the ink dries and appears richer and darker, matte black may be the better choice.

Printing with Older Printers

If you own an older printer, you may need to clean or purge the printer’s heads and lines before switching from one ink type or another. Because a high loss of ink is common with older printers, it may be best to choose the best ink for your inkjet labels printing job and then keep using that ink. As well, consider the cost savings of purchasing a new printer versus repeated ink loss with an older machine.

If You Can’t Choose Between Matte Black and Photo Black

If you want to have the freedom to use both types of black ink when you need to, then it may pay to purchase a new printer. Most modern printers will have one of the two following features:
Two sets of heads, lines and slots for two black ink cartridges;

Two sets of lines and slots, but only one head, shared by both black ink cartridges. If the printer is of the first variety, no further action is required, as ink selection will be made automatically. Printers of the second variety will require ink type to be changed by choose from a menu or via a button located on the printer itself. This will result in ink loss, but it will be minimal.

The system used by your printer can easily be identified; simply look for a ‘change ink’ button on the printer itself, or within the printer’s menu. The system type can also be identified by consulting the printer’s manual.

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