Posted by Kevin Vaughan on Wed, Jul 08, 2020 @ 03:35 PM

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Do you want your large format prints to really pop, be durable, and resist fading?


To achieve the best results, the obvious solution is to make sure to use the right print media for the specific desired result. For instance, use photo paper for a large photo image, vinyl for banners, etc. But, one often overlooked aspect to printing the perfect image is found the ink itself.


In fact, the secret to printing awesome large format photos or graphics has just as much to do with the quality of the ink as the print material. This is why Canon has spent so much time researching and developing the best technologies for word class prints. Check out how Canon has elevated the playing field with their LUCIA ink sets for Canon large format printers. 

So, inkjet printing is not new. It was first conceptualized int the 1950s and brought to market in the 1970s by both HP and Canon. As per Wikipedia:

“The idea of using thermal excitation to move tiny drops of ink was developed independently by two groups at roughly the same time: John Vaught and a team at Hewlett-Packard's Corvallis Division, and Canon engineer Ichiro Endo. Initially, in 1977, Endo's team was trying to use the piezoelectric effect to move ink out of the nozzle but noticed that ink shot out of a syringe when it was accidentally heated with a soldering iron.”

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Dye-based Plotter Ink

Traditionally, most inkjet printers use dye-based inks. The justification has always been a wider color range and lower cost. But, dyes are pretty volatile; they are merely water colors. Dyes are completely water soluble and can be greatly affected by the environment - especially ultraviolet light (UV) and moisture.


Most of the time, this is perfectly cheap and efficient process for general purpose printing.  In fact, most large format printers usually rely on dye inks for CAD and other basic printing applications.

Once these dye-based prints are exposed to the elements, however, dye inks can fade in the sunlight or bleed when they get wet. These changes can happen suddenly too. 

Conversely, photographers and other graphics professionals need and expect better image quality, durability, and longevity from their prints. Because of this, professional photo-printers, such as the Canon PRO-4100, use pigment-based inks exclusively. 

Pigment-based Plotter Ink

Unlike dyes, which are essentially colored water, pigments are formulated as an emulsion.

The pigments are actually microscopic solid particles that are suspended in an aqueous (water-based) liquid solution.

These solid particles are very durable and resilient and do not break down because of environmental conditions. Pigments will not fade and are mostly water resistant. The new Canon LUCIA inks are designed to resist scratches and minimize bronzing (distorting the reflection of light off of a print). 

Even though they are a different from dyes, the printing process is exactly the same. Pigment inks are shot onto the media in the exact same way as dye inks via an inkjet print head.

The difference is that dyes will soak into the paper, but pigments adhere and cure to the surface of the media. In addition to greater durability, pigment-based inks result in much better overall image quality.

Pigment inks delivery stunning results with fantastic durability.

Canon’s Pigment Plotter Ink Technology

Over the past few years, Canon has made great strides advancing the ink technologies of their entire large format printer series.

This includes both the high quality graphics models as well as the more commonly used systems for CAD, GIS, and other business printing needs.

Canon LUCIA TD Inks

All five ink channels all pigment-based in the Canon TX and TM printer series.

Both the TX-Series and TM-Series printers use refined and improved ink sets. As before, the printers utilize five colors (C, M, Y, Bk, MBk).

But, unlike previous versions, every ink in the set is now a pigment ink. This LUCIA TD pigment ink provides a way to get fantastic, high-quality prints on both coated inkjet media as well as standard bond papers.

The black density of these new inks is fantastic and bleed resistance is strong. So, contractors can use these prints, in the field, worry free.

They will not fade in the sun, and a rainstorm will not completely ruin the construction drawings. Another benefit to the bleed resistance of the TD Inks is that drawings can be highlighted and/or marked up with out any smearing.

Also, compared to the earlier Canon imagePROGRAF 750/760/780/830/840/850 series, TX Series printers produce a wider color gamut.

This means that renderings, maps, and aerials look better than ever. And even greater durability can be achieved by printing on a tough, long-lasting media such as water-resistant matte polypropylene, vinyl banner, or Tyvek.

Canon TM Series Pigment Ink Image Quality

Canon LUCIA PRO Inks

When image quality is paramount, Canon PRO inks deliver. This new ink formulation is found in the new family of PRO-Series and PRO-S-Series printers from Canon.



Canon LUCIA PRO Pigment Inks

The Canon LUCA PRO ink set includes 11 colors, plus a Chroma Optimizer.

The LUCIA PRO ink set consists of newly formulated 11-color pigment inks, plus a Chroma Optimizer.

These inks are designed specifically to meet the demands of even the most critical photographer and graphic artists. This ink offers increased pigment density for richer color expression.

Plus, the new Chroma Optimizer works like a “clear coat” layer when printing on photo papers. Chroma Optimizer (CO) works to further enhance the quality and ensure uniformity of light reflection.

This unique ink system help enable a broad color gamut with finer details in dark areas and improved gloss uniformity. Bronzing and graininess are also greatly reduced with the new LUCIA PRO ink set.

Canon PRO 4000 Plotter - 12 Color Pigment Ink

Final Thoughts

No matter if you are recreating an artistic masterpiece, or printing a set of construction drawings, the new Canon pigments inks will help you achieve much greater results.

The Canon LUCIA PRO, LUCIA TD, and LUCIA TM inks provide a wider color gamut to produce highly durable prints to offer you better peace of mind.

Canon pigment inks are tough and can survive the elements. Drawings, pictures, and posters will not fade.

Combine the inks with a more durable printing material, such as polypropylene, and your print can even be used for short-term outside display.

Upgrade your printing game and achieve amazing results with a Canon plotter using a full pigment ink set.


Content updated: 7-8-20

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Kevin Vaughan

Written by Kevin Vaughan

Kevin Vaughan is the Vice President of TAVCO and heads up Sales, Digital Marketing, and E-Commerce channels. With over two decades of experience, he has received various awards for sales performance and channel growth. Published articles focus on AEC technologies including laser scanning, 3D cameras, CAD software, and large format plotters. When he is not geeking out on new technologies, you can find him hanging with his wife and kids, playing guitar, or Scuba diving.