This is a question we receive almost every day from beginners: should one opt for Laser or Inkjet to make stencils? And even further, which printing to choose?
Laser printers long used to be used for monochromatic printing due to their rapid printing with a sharp finish. Unfortunately, recent affordable models are usually cheaper due to shifts in toner composition that have lessened the opacity, hampering film positive results in screen printing.
That means that, unless you're ready to invest into a high quality laser printer that will have other uses on top of making stencils, you should get better results with an entry-level inkjet printer than with a laser one.
The scales seem to have lately tilted towards inkjets, largely because of their ability to produce deep, uniform prints - a non-negotiable for screen printing. Here's a quick rundown of our staff's picks:
- Entry level (150-200€)
- Brother MFCJ1010DWE : the cheapest model we'd recommend thanks to its high resolution printing capacity. It will work for most of your prints on fabrics.
- Canon Pixma iX6820 : an entry-level printer that will get you good satisfaction for most applications. Its advantage is that it goes up to A3 printing size, but it might lack a back in opacity if you're doing very deep blacks on paper.
- Mid-range (250€)
- Epson XP-15000, a mid-range printer that will provide you with very good results. If you're looking for big flat tints with deep opacity on paper or very fine mesh, you should however go for a higher level model.
- Higher quality and contrasts (500€)
- ET15000 is a printer that will do perfectly for any DIY screen printing application. The reason we particularly like it is that it features an Ecotank, allowing you to fill ink back into the printer without buying new cartridges every time.
A quick reminder of the golden rule when making your stencils anyway : always inspect your film positive in light. A peak of light through the black? It means you'll need a reprint or to double your stencil.