PIGMENT INKJET PRINTS
An inkjet print is a monochrome or colour image produced with an inkjet printer using a digital file, whether the original matrix is digital or stems from the digitisation of an analogue matrix (negative or slide).
The image is produced through the projection of ink droplets onto a substrate. The ink may be based on dyes, solvents or pigments. The process was initially developed in the 1950s by IBM, then by Siemens. These companies developed the first inkjet printers, originally designed for printing text. The first inkjet photos date back to the late 1980s with the launch of the IRIS printer, the pioneer in Fine Art or "Giclée" prints.
Pigment inkjet prints were introduced in the 1990s. They were produced with liquid pigment inkjet printers, using an intermittent (non-continuous) printing system. This printing process is known as DOD – Drop on Demand: the ink droplets are ejected on demand using a thermal or piezoelectric system.
The thermal system uses a heating element placed in the ink channel of each nozzle: the ink heats up rapidly and the increased pressure causes the propulsion of the droplet.
As for the piezoelectric system, it consists in ejecting droplets using a mechanical action.
The pigment ink used is composed of organic matter dispersed in a liquid mainly composed of water. While the basic colours are cyan, magenta and yellow, along with black, the colour range is now very wide as some printers currently have eight colours (CcMcYyKk), or even twelve (RGB and various tones of grey).
There is a wide variety of output media, each with an ink receiving layer: pure cotton paper and Baryta paper for Fine Art prints, multi-layer RC (Resin Coated) paper or plastic, synthetic or natural canvas and synthetic papers with or without a receiving layer, as well as coated papers for office purposes.
These various media and their receiving layers make it possible to obtain prints which look like traditional photos (Baryta or multilayer papers) and explore new possibilities in terms of effects which are traditionally closer to those of artwork (through the use of pure cotton paper). The use of Japanese papers (in the pure cotton paper family), for example, provides totally new images in creative photography.
Appropriate combinations of inks, printer, printing software and paper will optimise the quality of the prints from an aesthetic point of view and improve their stability over time. For instance, the Digigraphie® label applies to prints produced on Epson inkjet printers using Epson Ultrachrome pigmented inks and approved papers.
Visual glossary of photographic techniques
© ARCP / Mairie de Paris, 2014