Specialty papers allow creativity and individuality into the relatively prosaic process of printing. Whether you're interested in producing Fine Art photos, a T-shirt you designed or special occasion cards, there are papers suited to your needs. However, you must ensure your printer can use them.
Both inkjet and laser printers can print on specialty papers, but individual printers may be limited in the media they can print on, or the thickness of the media you can feed through the printer. Specialty papers include all types of photo paper, card stock, transfer or iron-on paper, acetate, parchment, paper with a self-stick back, which includes labels, magnet backed paper, and even fabric specially prepared to go through a printer.
You can find special media in many places, from craft stores, discount department stores, and office supply stores to art supply shops, but you will probably not find all types of media in a single location. Online, there are also many suppliers.
Printers which have a manual front feed that allows paper to move through the printer in a straight path rather than curving around through the printer are the easiest to use with specialty media.
Indeed, some printers have the feature specifically to allow specialty paper use. This includes some photo printers that also have special inks, however many of those printers are at the very high end of most people's printer budgets. Epson and Canon both make printers of this type, and on the right papers they produce photographs of professional or Fine Art quality.
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I wanted to see if I could find a single place to provide everything I was looking for. Here is what I found at Amazon.com.
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A possible printer choice
Less expensive photo printers don't necessarily have a manual feed, but if you look at the manual, the manufacturers recommend that only a limited amount of photo paper be put in a paper tray. One of the most exceptionally bargain priced photo printers is the Canon PIXMA iP4700 Premium Inkjet Photo Printer, available for as low as $60, and ranging up to $100, depending on where you purchase it. Do, when looking at various printer prices, consider the price of taxes and shipping before picking the best price to pay for the printer. It can print on media in sizes up to 8.5 x 11 inches, using Canon's archival quality 5 ink system.
Almost all of manufacturers recommend use of OEM media for the best quality printing. However, there are companies like Hahnemuhle specializing in photographic media whose paper- or other material- produce printing that is just as high in quality.