A colour laser printer / copier when coupled with the Forever range of transfer papers, gives you the opportunity to print a much wider variety of products than a sublimation print system can, but is not actually a replacement for sublimation. Confused ? Read on and we’ll explain.
How does the laser transfer process work ?
A laser printer uses dry toner, which when transferred sits on the surface of the printed item.
The toner is thicker than a sublimation or inkjet transfer which means that colours are richer which is perfect for logos and solid colours. When transferring onto a clear glass substrate the ink is more opaque (less see through) and text can be printed finer.
Coupled with the Forever papers, a laser printer can transfer onto both coated and uncoated substrates (though washabilty on uncoated products isn’t great) and can also transfer at much lower temperatures, so plastic items like pens, USB memory sticks and the like can also be printed.
A laser printer is much faster than a sublimation printer, and can be used for both transfers and standard paper printing, so business cards, letterheads, invitations and the like can also be printed.
As the toner is NOT water-soluble, a standard paper sticker printed with a laser printer will not run or smear when wet, so laser printed labels are great for wine bottles, sports bottles and so on.
There are some downsides to the laser transfer process laser printer but these are easily overcome by adding a sublimation printer to your print solution (a sublimation printer costs nothing in the whole scheme of things):
OKI White Toner
The OKI™ White Toner Laser printer is perfect for hassle free and higher volume corporate printing.The OKI™ White Toner Laser printer is perfect for hassle free and higher volume corporate printing.
Unlike other white toner printers on the market, this is the only printer than prints white in a single pass. It has 4 x Cartridges – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and White. To make black, Cyan, Magenta and Y
ellow are printed on-top of each other. Other printers that can print white, require the paper to be fed into the printer twice, once to print the colours, and then to print the white.
The problem with this is that when printing a second time, there’s a slight offset (in other words the 2 prints are not perfectly aligned), so the artwork needs to be done in such a way to address this issue. With the OKI, it’s all done in a single pass, so it’s completely hassle free.
Anyone looking for the finest detailed images in white and colour needs to look no further than the OKI range of white toner printers.
The print costs on the OKI white toner printers are lower than printers that use a 2 pass system, as on the OKI, the drums and waste toner bins are separate to the toners. On cheaper printers, to cut costs all these items are built into the toner cartridge, which means that whilst the printer is much cheaper, the print costs are much higher, as when the toner runs out, the cartridge complete with fuser drum and waste toner bin is also replaced. The OKI white toner machines can literally print thousands of pages before toner needs to be replenished. The Drums can last up to 50,000 prints.
As this system can print white, you are not limited to printing / transferring only onto white or light coloured products. Prints can be done onto dark substrates as well. An added bonus is that whilst sublimation transfer systems can only print onto specially coated products, this kind of printer can print onto both coated and uncoated substrates as well as onto substrates which have low melting points.
This printer not only does transfers (like the sublimation printers), but can also print board and paper (meaning that wedding invites, business cards and general print can also be done). Prints can be done on any colour paper.
The OKI printers have the lowest page cost of any white toner printing solution and are targeted at busy print shops, corporate gift printers, and larger volume users.
The OKI white toner printer are available in both A4 and A3 versions. The A3 is more expensive but print costs are even lower than A4.
iColour White Toner Laser Printer
The iColour laser printer is meant for production environments. White is printed in a single pass, and a RIP is included with this system. The RIP alone can save you up to 50% on the usage of the white Toner.
The printer is positioned between the Ghost and OKI laser printers. Like the Ghost it can print CMYK (it has a black cartridge), but like the OKI you can also elect to print CMYW (removing the black and replacing with white for single pass white printing).
As an added advantage, it's possible to tell the printer where to print the white (underneath or on top of the colours) and the printer can switch to NEON or SUBLIMATION mode merely by changing the cartridges. This is currently the only printer on the market to offer this versatility. There are even specialized security toners available for this printer.
Print costs are lower than the Ghost and with single pass colour + white printing, the process is much simpler. This printer is perfect both for heat transfers (onto ceramics, metal, wood, fabrics, certain pens, balls) but also waterslide papers (to decorate items which cannot be heated such as plastic, candles, models, and so on) as well as standard printing on both paper and cardstock (think short run business cards, invitations, certificates, stickers, and so on).
With the optional toners you can branch out into the lucrative security printing market as well as the night club scene where printing shows up under ultra violet light. T-shirts can also be printed which shine under night club UV lights. The RIP is included at no added cost and is easy to use.
Advantages of Laser print process:
1. Colours are very opaque (not see through), so prints on items like clear glass are much easier to see than those done with sublimation.
2. Transfer times and temperatures are lower than with sublimation, which means that items that wouldn’t be possible to print with sublimation can now be done, like polyprop.
3. It’s possible to transfer images onto items which aren’t specially coated for sublimation, this gives you access to a much bigger variety of products (an endless variety in fact).
4. By using the gold and silver Forever transfer papers, you can effectively digitally foil pretty much the same items that would normally be doing with standard foiling, in any size up to A3 and with a complexity that conventional foiling could never duplicate.
5. You have a multitude of finishing options on products that have not existed in a digital format before, for instance, you can print a piece of wood in full colour, then add silver or gold to it, and even add flock. We’ve printed a mug with gold and full colour and it looks awesome !
6. You can foil a product and also print it in full colour. This includes metals, woods, ceramics, glass, some plastics (including pens), leather, fabrics and so on.
7. By using a RIP (such as the Forever RIP), you can accurately calculate your costs down to the cent for each job that you do.
8. The OKI printers that we use for the laser transfer process are all covered by a 3 year onsite warranty (subject to the customer registering their purchase with OKI).
9. If the laser printers with White toner are used, even dark and black objects can be printed.
10. With the addition of the Forever no-cut flex (which comes in single colours), you can decorate items in single spot colours, and special colours such as neon, white, and metallic colours and then add full colour to this. No other digital print system allows for this.
Disadvantages of Laser print process:
1. Photographs done with a laser are not as good as with sublimation due to the size of the print dot (easily noticed on a hard surface like a mug, but impossible to see on a Tshirt). Skin tones are not as smooth (again due to the size of the dot) but on a fabric item no one will notice.
2. Printing on Polyester fabrics is not as durable as with sublimation (but then again nothing is).
3. As the print with the laser sits on the surface of the product, some items are not great when done with a laser printer as continued rubbing of the surface will wear the print off – examples of this are mousepads. As the mouse rubs on the pad it wears the toner transfer off.
4. While you can print on uncoated mugs, the print is not very durable. For best results coated mugs are required.
5. Due to the wider variety of products you can print onto, some experimentation is required to perfect the transfer process on non standard products.
6. Cheap T-shirt presses should ideally be avoided due to pressure limitations, uneven pressure and heat consistency issues.