What Kind of Printer Do I Need to Print on Vinyl?

print on vinyl

The function of printers have changed drastically over the years. From simple machines to print black text on white sheets of paper, printers these days have a much larger role in big and small businesses.

A lot of business owners around use inkjet and laser printers in a number of activities and productions besides printing black-and-white text and colorful pictures.

Laser printers and inkjet printers – these two types of printers, in particular, can be used for more purposes than other types of printers.

These printers can usually print on different kinds of materials besides plain paper, including fabric, vinyl materials, cardstock, cardboard, adhesive paper, glossy paper, CD/DVDs, and plain wood.  

Our main concern, however, at the moment, is vinyl.

What is Vinyl?

Vinyl isn’t a natural substance, and also not something we see or use regularly. In our regular lives, vinyl is used in terms of flooring, records, siding and gloves. It is a man-made substance made of a kind of plastic.

The components of vinyl include ethylene and choline, which are found in crude oil and regular salt. These materials are processed and combined to make Polyvinyl Chloride resin or PVC resin, and we commonly know it as Vinyl. 

Vinyl is available in sheet form to be used in printers and cutting machines, but you need a special kind of printer to print on vinyl sheets.You need an inkjet printer or a laser printer to print on vinyl materials. 

What is an Inkjet Printer? 

An inkjet printer prints on paper by spraying ink on it. This kind of printer comes with numerous tiny nozzles on the print head. These nozzles are known as jets, hence the name “inkjet”.

Ink comes out of these jets and gets sprayed on the paper as it moves through the printer. The ink isn’t sprayed haphazardly, but in a systematic manner commanded by the computer to form words and images. 

A regular inkjet printer can produce a hard copy with up to 300 dots per inch, i.e. 300 dpi. This means that the printer will produce more than 300 dots inside a single inch, making your hard copies vivid and vibrant. A better quality inkjet printer comes with 600 dpi resolutions and they are used more in printing out photographs and images. 

How Does an Inkjet Printer work? 

As mentioned before, an inkjet printer comes with multiple nozzles or “jets” in its printing mechanism.

It also has multiple ink cartridges inside for both black-and-white and colorful printing; the black ink cartridges are separate from the color ink cartridges.

vinyl printing

As mentioned before, an inkjet printer comes with multiple nozzles or “jets” in its printing mechanism. It also has multiple ink cartridges inside for both black-and-white and colorful printing; the black ink cartridges are separate from the color ink cartridges.

Color ink cartridges usually contain primary pigment inks, i.e. Magenta, Cyan, Yellow and Black, and they combine together to make any color you need.  

The ink sprayed from the nozzles creates the text, image, photograph or pattern you want on not just paper, but on different materials as well. The ink dries almost instantly if the printed part isn’t much, but might need a minute to dry completely if you have huge patches of dark color on the paper.

High-end inkjet printers can produce exceptional quality of images and photographs with 600 dpi resolution, and they are usually preferred by professional photographers and designers. 

What is a Laser Printer? 

A laser printer, on the other hand, is the kind of printer that works with a single laser instead of using ink on paper. The printing from these printers are highly sophisticated and neat, also used by professionals.

Some high-end laser printers also come with 600 dpi resolution, which means they can place up to 600 dots per inch of space, making the end result vivid and vibrant. 

How Does a Laser Printer work? 

A laser printer writes and prints with a beam of light, which might sound impossible, but is actually true. It is the tiny laser beams inside the printer that do all the work to make a hard copy of your texts, images and designs, on a variety of materials. 

The mechanism behind a laser printer is somewhat like the working procedure of a photocopier; they both use the same technology. In our computers or other devices that are connected to the laser printer, each piece of data is stored electronically, with the help of a microscopic switching device.

This device is known as a transistor. The laser printer converts this electronic data into texts and images by turning electricity into ink. The printer controls the miniature laser beam inside the printer to use static electricity and get ink on the material you are using. 

When something needs to be printed, the device sends the data to the laser printer. The electronic circuit inside the printer figures out the data and decides what they are going to look like after being printed on material. The laser beam inside the printer scans the material inside the printer, and builds up static electricity.

A special kind of powdered ink, known as toner, is attracted by this static electricity and is put on the material. The toner bonds with the material to create exactly what you wanted to print on your paper or other material. 

Using an Inkjet Printer on Vinyl 

Inkjet printers can most definitely print on vinyl; this is actually how stickers are made. You can use any inkjet printer you have at home to print on vinyl material, but it is important that you buy the right kind of vinyl for the job. The vinyl material to use in an inkjet printer to print should be the “print receptive” type. 

A “print receptive” vinyl means that this particular kind of vinyl material should have an extra layer of film coating on top to act as a kind of carrier for ink. Without this added layer, the ink can bleed or fade over time, ruining the design.

So there are actually two options for using an inkjet printer to print on vinyl: buy vinyl material that has a lamination layer for protection, or to laminate the vinyl material ourselves before or after printing on it. 

The types of vinyl material that you can use for this purpose include: 

  • Expressions Inkjet Printable Vinyl Sheets that already come with a clear laminate cover on top and sticky adhesive at the back; 
  • Cricut Printable Vinyl that you can also use in a cutting machine as well as an inkjet printer; and
  • Inkjet White Printable Vinyl Paper which is waterproof and can be also used outdoors. 
laser printer

Using a Laser Printer on Vinyl 

Laser printers, too, can be used to print on vinyl material, both adhesive and non-adhesive. Although inkjet printers are the most common type of printers for working on vinyl, if you already have a laser printer at home, you can use it to print on vinyl. 

Just like with an inkjet printer, you need a special kind of printable vinyl material to use in a laser printer. These kind of special vinyl is available in the market, and there are a few options to choose from: 

  • Waterproof Vinyl Sticker Paper that comes with an adhesive back, and 
  • Weatherproof Vinyl Laser Sticker Paper that can be used outside 
  • Matte Sticker Paper that has a glossy surface and 
  • White Laser Full Sheet that comes in various sizes 

Conclusion

If you have a business and regularly plan to use vinyl materials, the best option would be to invest in an inkjet printer, as they are the best ones for printing on vinyl.

However, if you already have an existing inkjet or laser printer at home, you can use it to print on any material, especially particular types of vinyl material. 

Leave a Comment