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"What type of printer?" Topic

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Diglettt19 Feb 2019 3:15 p.m. PST

I was wondering if people use inkjet or laserjet printers for their paper models? I was planning on buying some of Peter Dennis' paper soldier books and was wondering if buying a laserjet printer would be better for the terrain and soldiers than an inkjet? Thanks all!

Sgt Slag19 Feb 2019 3:32 p.m. PST

I used inkjet printers to produce cardstock terrain for several years. Con's: ink is EXPENSIVE; get the ink wet, and it will run; needs to dry before handling.

I bought a color laser printer around two years ago. Pro's: toner is plastic, melted into the paper/cardstock, so it will not run/bleed when wet; no need to "dry", as it is melted into the surface of the paper/cardstock. Con's: toner cartridges are expensive ($80-$90 per cartridge, and there are four of them needed!), and you will likely get a bit more printouts than you will with ink cartridges, but I've never been able to do a real cost comparison; they do not last very long when printing color graphics, numbering in the ten's, not hundred's…

Which do I prefer, having used both, for several years?… Color Laser, hands down!

Now for something completely different, though related, overall…

I print on full-sheet label paper, cutting out the shapes, and adhering them to 3mm thick cardboard, assembling without using their designed tabs. I have to reinforce the cardboard with square balsa 'rods' glued inside, to avoid warping, but they are much heavier, and incredibly durable, compared to cardstock! I hope to switch to MDF, but that is much more involved, as each piece will need to be custom cut, to shape, on a table saw.

My cardstock buildings were just too delicate. Even with reasonably careful handling, they were bent, and damaged; they warped, rather quickly, as well. The ink was so expensive, that I had to find a more durable construction method. By using full-sheet label paper (peel-n-stick), I found them more work to build, but the Pro's outweigh the Con's, by a wide margin! The 3mm-thick cardboard is extremely durable, and the finished buildings have much greater heft, so they don't fall, or fly away, very easily.

Here is a Fat Dragon Games (FDG) modular castle, made using full-sheet labels, adhered to 3mm-thick cardboard. The FDG siege towers were originally made of 110# cardstock, but replaced using the 3mm cardboard -- they are super strong, now! Worth the extra effort, by far!


If you want the printed pieces to last longer than one, or even a few, games, I strongly recommend 3mm-thick cardboard. I buy mine at a picture frame shop. It is intended to be used as backing for pictures within frames. Cheers!

Royal Air Force19 Feb 2019 5:32 p.m. PST

I've switched to an Epson ecotank printer. No cartridges to worry about, I can see the ink level, and much cheaper than constantly buying cartridges.

khanscom19 Feb 2019 6:03 p.m. PST

I've printed with a Canon inkjet printer for small- scale (10- 15mm) buildings and armored vehicles and had satisfactory results. Ink may be water- soluble but with a spray of varnish, I've had no problems with running or spotting. The printer will handle card stock of sufficient weight to give years of use with the finished models.

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Feb 2019 5:37 a.m. PST

Another Epson ecotank user here, and very happy with it.

There are numerous threads on the pros and cons of various printers in the Hardware forum at


GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Feb 2019 6:41 a.m. PST

Inkjet is cheaper to buy, has equivalent quality to an affordable colour laser and cheaper running costs.

Lasers do produce brighter colours and are more fade-resistant.

Not all inkjet ink will run unless it is soaked, some have a degree of water resistance but, I'd agree, laser toner doesn't run.

Toner does, however, crack at folds if printed on thick paper or card. Better quality paper reduces this as does careful handling but it is almost always possible.

Use 3rd party ink from a reputable supplier and not manufacturer's own inks, which are ridiculously overpriced and not of any better quality. I would have to pay about £40.00 GBP to replace my cartridge set with Cannon ones but I can get 4 sets from a good supplier for the same price with no difference in quality or performance.

williamb20 Feb 2019 11:13 a.m. PST

Agree with GlidasFacit. I use an Epson inkjet on cardstock for 1:300 buildings. Found a reliable supplier for cartridges and can get 10 to 12 cartridges for the same price as one cartridge from Epson. Actually had better results with them than the one set of replacement cartridges I got from Epson. Also made shields for 28mm plastic fantasy figures to replace the scale 6 inch thick shields that came with the figures. Printed the shields on white cardstock and glued the cardstock to brown paper.

williamb20 Feb 2019 11:22 a.m. PST

Agree with GlidasFacit. I use an Epson inkjet on cardstock for 1:300 buildings. Found a reliable supplier for cartridges and can get 10 to 12 cartridges for the same price as one cartridge from Epson. Actually had better results with them than the one set of replacement cartridges I got from Epson.

Tony S20 Feb 2019 4:10 p.m. PST

"Toner does, however, crack at folds if printed on thick paper or card."

Score the paper before folding it. It eliminates, or greatly reduces cracking.

Yellow Admiral20 Feb 2019 6:46 p.m. PST

Toner does, however, crack at folds if printed on thick paper or card.
Thanks for saying that. I've never encountered this problem, but I'll keep this in mind.

A common laser printer problem for me is the toner rubbing off when printed on cardstock. I've never figured out exactly what the problem is, but it seems to be worst with heavy, smooth cardstock, mitigated somewhat if the cardstock has a rough surface and/or is lighter weight. Laser printers in general seem to be sketchy when dealing with heavy papers.

My usual solution is to laminate the cardstock (or just print on paper and laminate that), but that won't work so well for paper models. Workable Fixatif seems to have helped, and while it's slightly ironic to have to clearcoat a paper item, it protects the finished output without adding a sheen.

- Ix

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Feb 2019 2:15 a.m. PST

Yellow Admiral

There are usually a range of options for the type of paper in the print dialogue. I have 4 that could refer to card and I only found the best one by experiment. My printer is a Kyocera but the same print engine is used in a few brands.

What I did find was that the 'Cardstock' option worked OK up to about 160gsm and above that 'Thick' was better.

Another possible issue is that not all paper manufacturers are honest about the fact that their paper is coated. I've ditched more than one packet of quite expensive paper because it turned out to be coated. Coated paper/card is useless if you want a firm and lasting 'fix' of the toner.

The best smooth paper is what artists would call 'Hot pressed', but printer paper is labelled with all sorts of vague descriptions that don't have any consistent meaning so I'm never truly sure what I'm buying. All I can do is trust reviews and hope.

Scoring is a good idea but takes some practice to get just right, too deep and you end up with a white cut at the corners. Ideally you'd have the back marked so you could soft-score on the back (you can do that using a light box if you have one) but that isn't likely to work as aligning a printer to accurately print front and back in the same place is a nightmare.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2019 1:59 p.m. PST

If you use ink jet, spray the copies with gloss or matte varnish. This protects against water damage.

I use photo paper to print buildings, and then spray with matte varnish.

Sgt Slag22 Feb 2019 10:01 a.m. PST

Yellow Admiral, toner is microscopic plastic beads. The toner is deposited onto the paper/cardstock by electro-static charges, then it is run through teflon-coated, heated rollers, which press, and melt, it into the paper's surface (Fuser Unit). The temperature of the Fuser is critical: too hot, and the microscopic plastic toner will likely burn; too cold, and it easily flakes off the page since it never had enough heat to fuse it into the paper fibers…

In the printer's settings dialog box, you will find various paper types, usually listing cardstock; if you are printing on label paper, as I do, choose that setting -- it is based on the thickness of the material, and the nature of the paper and label (it does matter, it does make a difference in the result). This setting choice affects the speed with which the page is run through the Fuser Unit, which controls how much heat the toner gets. The differences are subtle, so you won't notice the speed change, but it is there. I spent 10+ years repairing laser printers. Cheers!

williamb23 Feb 2019 12:06 p.m. PST

I got one set of commercially printed cardstock buildings that had been printed on a much smoother/glossier cardstock than normal. Company uses a laser printer. Their was cracking, even with scoring the paper, shiny color instead of the normal matt finish, and other minor problems. Informed the company and they reverted to their original cardstock material and replaced the set.

chironex23 Feb 2019 6:03 p.m. PST

Yellow Admiral, there may also be settings available to raise the fusing temperature into a higher range, which I usually find effective against this problem. I always do this with a new Sharp install.
Also, rebuilding the fuser (it's a consumable item) with non-genuine parts can also do this. I have found Katun heat rollers for KonicaMinolta fusers have too thick a coating of Teflon, which causes smudgy prints even with the fusing temperature turned all the way up, no matter what paper you choose.

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