Both inkjet and laser printers are designed to print on a variety of media types from envelopes to labels, but one type of media that may not often be considered is transparency film. Transparency film is generally used with an overhead projector, and different models can print everything from text to full color images using either laser toner or inkjet cartridges, and can really jazz up a presentation.
The problem with transparency film is that if the process is not handled correctly, the results will be less than ideal, and in extreme cases, incorrect transparency film can even cause damage to your printer.
Choose the Right Media
Finding the proper transparency film for your model of printer is generally not difficult. The main consideration is to make sure you are using media designed for your specific printer type. For example, look for laser transparency film when using laser printers, and look for inkjet transparency film when using inkjet printers. For more on the differences between the two technologies, see Laser Printer vs. Inkjet Printer. If you want the most predictable results, you can even choose media created by the manufacturer of your printer.
WARNING: Using regular non-printer transparency film or a type that was not intended for your type of printer could cause the media to melt or cause other damage.
Use the Proper Tray
If your printer has more than one tray, or has a separate multipurpose tray, consult the manual or visit the support website for your printer to find the proper tray for your transparency film. In general, most printers utilize a multipurpose tray or a single-sheet slot feed for transparencies and other alternative media like envelopes, and these trays may be located in the rear of the machine. After loading the media into the proper tray, you will then need to select this tray or slot in your printer driver software on the computer.
Additional Tips for Printing on Transparencies:
- Some printers have settings within the software driver for different types of media. Look for a transparency setting and utilize it.
- If one side of the film is shinier than the other, feed it so that the printer will print on the “dull” side for better adhesion of the ink.
- Ink may need more drying time on transparencies. Allow extra time for drying before touching the ink or stacking sheets on top of each other.
- If you are planning to print multiple copies of the same page or design, test it on a single sheet to view the results. This could save extra ink if there are adjustments that need to be made.
Understanding the different types of transparency film and the potential risks of using the wrong media type can help you avoid a costly mistake. By taking the time to find the right kind of media and the best process for printing transparencies, you can keep your printer safe from harm and get the best possible results.