What is 'Inkjet Print'

An inkjet print is a form of digital image print that is made using an inkjet printer. As a form of art reproduction, inkjet prints became more widely available in the 1980s as digital printer technology improved and printers became less expensive. The first inkjet prints were created with Iris printers but have evolved into a flexible tool that can create texture, various finishes and large-format works. Inkjet printing is used to create fine-art quality prints that are works of art that may be unique or recreated in numbered limited editions for art collectors.

Breaking Down 'Inkjet Print'

Inkjet technology propels tiny droplets of ink or pigment onto a variety of substrates, such as paper, fabric, plastic, metal and more. Many home computer users use basic inkjet printers; commercial-grade printers use the same technology but with far greater flexibility. For example, commercial inkjet printers may offer larger formats (commonly between 54" and 192", though the technology is frequently updated), better resolution or more flexibility in types of substrate and inks, pigments or dyes they can employ. Such printers can cost tens of thousands of dollars on the low end or millions of dollars on the upper end. Inkjet printing are favored over color laser printing for the quality of their output — especially for photographic works.

Inkjet Print and Fine Art

Inkjet prints are created with high-resolution printers, and are of higher quality than older print techniques, such as lithographs. Inkjet prints are also more expensive than lithograph prints due to the use of more expensive inks. One of the more expensive elements of inkjet printing is the ink. Archival quality inks, which are usually pigment-based, tend to be more expensive but will last longer and stand up to ultraviolet rays better. Most inkjet print pigments are not waterproof without lamination.

Inkjet prints are available on a variety of surfaces, including canvas, though art dealers may prefer to use the word "giclée" to describe certain high quality digital prints. Giclée is a neologism created in 1991 to describe fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers. This versatility, as well as the quality of the prints, can give the appearance of the print being the original work of art. Inkjet prints are more expensive than many other forms of art reproduction, though the term giclée is no guarantee of ink or substrate quality. 

Inkjet Print: Developing Technology

Inkjet printing technology continues to advance with constant upgrades in hardware, software, pigments and finishes. Like 3-D printing technology, the next generation of inkjet printing is able to create textured prints similar to oil paintings. In addition, newer inkjet printers are able to print in ever-larger sizes, are able to add varnishes to create varying finishes, can create a 3-D effect by layering special finishes and can handle innovative new inks.

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