One of the most overlooked parts of fine art printing is proper handling of the print media. Fine art media is damaged or compromised frequently during the production process. Proper handling protects the integrity of the media and ensures success from start to finish. Here are some tips to improve print quality by handling fine art media properly.
Elements in the print environment, such as dust and debris, can affect the media when it is stored uncovered for long periods of time. Dusty AC vents, fan blades or ceilings, and dirty floors only make the problem worse. It’s best practice to keep media inside the protective plastic sleeve and stored back inside the box until your ready to print on it.
It only takes one smudge on a print and you must throw it away. It’s easy for oil and dirt to transfer from your hands onto the fine art media. Avoid using your bare hands to handle a print. Wear white cotton gloves to handle the print and remove them if you need to do anything else. You could contaminate the gloves if you keep them on while touching other things in the print environment.
Damage can occur to the media when it is mishandled during printer loading or carrying the final print. Thinner media types and larger prints are more susceptible to this issue. Improper handling can crease or leave small dents on the surface and result in a reprint. Take special care when loading or carrying fine art media by holding it along the edge and avoiding anything that could damage the surface.
Fine art paper, canvas and other fine are media are more susceptible to abrasions and scuffing than standard media. This is attributed to the delicate coating on the media and the fragile nature of aqueous ink. A high-quality protective coating like a liquid laminate will protect the print and prevent scuffs or abrasions.
Fine art media exposed to changes in temperature and humidity may curl. The amount of curl that occurs will vary depending on the print environment and the type of media. Curl can happen relatively fast and may cause expensive head-strikes if left unattended. It’s best practice to store fine art media in the print environment around 68ºF at 50-60% relative humidity to prevent media curl.
Handling fine art media properly results in less damaged and wasted material. It helps improve print quality and keep your costs under control. The examples provided here may seem small, but they add up and affect print quality and profit.