As we have recently looked at some of the major canvas printing services currently available, we thought we would spend a little time explaining the process and some of the technology behind it.
Essentially, there are 2 main methods of printing digital images onto canvas: dye diffusion printing, and dye sublimation printing. Let’s take a closer look.
In dye diffusion printing, ink gel is sprayed by the piezoelectric print head onto an inkjet paper in the printer. This turns the inkjet paper into the sublimation transfer sheet that can be placed onto the stretched canvas (the print medium), and this bundle is then placed in the heat press machine.
The duration, pressure, and temperature at which image transfer can occur are set in the machine, and the process of image transfer occurs.
The temperature, duration, and pressure settings of the machine are determined by the type of print medium used, and most of the settings used are best suited for polyester canvas.
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In dye sublimation, the printer used is the heat transfer imprinting printer and the dye used undergoes sublimation when heated. This indicates that this dye is more volatile than the dye used in dye diffusion.
Therefore, heat transfer in dye sublimation occurs at a lower temperature, but higher pressure, as compared to dye diffusion.
Most printing services use different sizes of printers for their canvas printing, with some of the large format options measuring as large as 54inches by 54inches.
Usually, the printer makes auto-adjustments on the brightness, saturation, and color contrast of the image so as to optimize the process of printing so as to produce a high-fidelity canvas print that captures as many details as possible from the digital image.
Mounted prints use photographic paper as the medium on which the print is made. As compared to the canvas print, the mounted print has a less artistic feel.
This is due to the material properties of the medium used – paper versus canvas. As compared to canvas, paper is less durable, weaker, and less flexible.
Even so, printing on paper is useful for posters and peel-and-stick prints. In the peel-and-stick print, the backside of the paper features an adhesive material that is covered by a protective sheet that can be peeled off when one wants to stick it onto a surface.
Cotton vs Polyester Canvas
Canvas is basically fabric that is made from polyester or cotton (and sometimes from linen) fibers. Cotton fibers can absorb the ink hence creating a matte paint-like print that evokes gallery-quality art, while polyester fibers do not absorb the ink hence causing the ink to stay on its surface thus creating a print with a sheen and vivid colors.
Normally, cotton canvas is more expensive than polyester canvas. Still, artwork printed on cotton canvas evokes the painted effect of an oil painting.