Graphic design, in present day sense, applies to digital graphic designing on computers, using cutting edge graphics software from vendors like Adobe.
It could be designing logos for companies or designing a magazine front cover or even an abstract presentation of colors, textures and shapes. Very often graphic designs also include text as well.
Because the graphics are created in a computer, every minute dot in it is clearly defined digitally and is significant.
Hence the requirement here is fine and accurate printing. This can only be accomplished by the best printers for graphic design.
Comparison Table of Top Printers for Graphic Design
Why More Ink Cartridges?
So why do dedicated graphic designing printers have more than the usual 4 inks. We know that an average printer has CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) color cartridges.
Why is it that some printers have more than 4 inks cartridges?
This basically has to do with color gamut. The more shades of CMYK you have, the better tonal range, shades and color gradient the printer will capture on to the printed material.
The color gamut is the range of colors that can be printed. Yes, you cannot print many colors unless you work on the printer design.
If you are familiar with theory of color printing, you would know that, theoretically speaking, any color can be produced from the combination of three primary colors plus black. The three primary colors are Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. The 4 colors combined are termed as CMYK, where K means black.
Practically speaking, mixing of the mentioned 4 colors does not produce all the colors. So multiple shades of some colors are utilized. In this way, a broader range of color shades can be printed.
Possible combinations use multiple grays (including black as gray), multiple Cyan, and multiple Magenta. Another possibility is the addition of red.
So you can get 2 Cyans, 2 Magentas, Yellow and Red. To this, you can add multiple shades of gray for good monochrome result.
Alternatively, printer brands use a combination of dye inks and pigment inks. We will talk about these two types in a minute, but briefly speaking, pigment inks are far superior and provide better results but are also expensive. Commonly, black is used in dye and pigment form separately.
Hence, the rule of thumb is a broader color gamut and that means using more color shades i.e more inks.
Pigment vs Dye Based Inks for Graphic Design
The inkjet printers use very fine jets to throw minute ink droplets on paper at very high speeds. There are two types of ink used for printing using inkjet printers.
The dye inks have a water base. Simply speaking, this means that colored ink is mixed in water and the resulting ink can also be considered as colored water.
Dye Inks have a tendency to smudge when printed on paper. Of course, improvements in printing jets and Ink composition have helped in improving the print quality but the dye is water after all.
The significance of dye ink is for producing shiny and glossy result as is desirable in the case of photograph prints.
Pigment inks are enamel based and consist of micro and nano particles of ink suspended in a fluid medium. When the ink is printed on the paper, the fluid dries out and the ink particles adhere permanently to the paper.
The pigment inks produce very fine print result. This factor is of primary importance for printing of graphic designing works. The text is very clear, even using small fonts; the graphics are crisp and the shaded areas are uniform and showing hardly any banding or streaking.
List of Best Printers for Graphic Design in 2019
We have selected the following as the best in this category:
- Canon iP8720 – The Budget Color Printer
- Canon PIXMA Pro-100 – 8 Ink Dedicated Photo Printer
- Canon PIXMA PRO-10 – 10 Pigment Ink System
- Epson Expression Premium ET-7700 – For Printing Large Volumes
- Epson SureColor P800 – The Crème de la Crème of Color Printers
1. Canon iP8720 – The Budget Color Printer
23.3 x 13.1 x 6.3 in (W x D x H)
The Canon iP8720 is a color inkjet printer that is light on the pocket and strong on photo printing boasting a max 9600 dpi borderless tabloid sized photos.
For graphic design printing, the ip8720 has great output of graphics and text. Having said that, the graphics and text quality is good for personal use as well as internal office use.
For professionally presentable graphics, you would have to dig deep in your wallet for extra cash.
You will have the capability to print up to tabloid sized borderless prints with this wide-format printer.
A 150 sheet tray is a sturdy option to have alongside, although without duplexing and any other paper tray. But yes, you can also print CD/DVD labels.
Photo printing is the hallmark of the ip8720.
Using 6 inks of which one is pigment black, one gray and the rest CMYK, the printer gives remarkable results on simple and photo paper.
To add to that, it prints monochrome photos with just as good quality thanks to the two blacks and the gray, where otherwise, the monochrome photo print quality is usually less in photo printers.
The printing speed of 14.5 ppm for Monochrome and 10.5 ppm for color prints is good for inkjet printers of this budget range.
The connectivity options on this printer include USB, WiFi and WiFi Direct. It also offers Wireless PictBridge so that you can directly connect it to your cameras.
All in all, for the budget oriented, we highly recommend this as one of the best printers for graphic design.
2. Canon PIXMA Pro-100 – 8 Ink Dedicated Photo Printer
27.2 x 15.2 x 8.5 in (W x D x H)
The Canon PIXMA Pro-100 is a color inkjet printer from the professional class line of printers offered by Canon.
Of the three Pro models available from Canon, the Pro-100 is designed for professional quality color prints that have greater glossy and shine effect in photos.
This is due to the dye-ink printing from the 8-ink system with CMYK plus two grays, photo Cyan and photo Magenta inks.
Surprisingly for a printer with professional studio grade printer, this has relatively low upfront cost.
As a printer for graphic designers, the quality offered is above par among inkjets. Although it does not use any pigment ink at all, the superior technology – Canon’s ChromaLife100+ and LIFE inkjet nozzle provide the higher print quality.
The maximum print size is 13” x 19” inches including borderless printing and in addition to the 150 sheets tray at input, there is a manual feed slot for thicker paper. CD/DVD label printing is also supported.
The printing speed is faster than the Pro-1 model and it takes approx. 51 seconds for an 8″ x 10″ Image on A4 with Border and approx. 1 minute, 30 seconds for an 11″ x 14″ Image on A3+ with Border.
You can send your prints over Ethernet and Wi-Fi or by plugging a USB thumb drive into the printer. There is no direct wireless printing option like Wi-Fi Direct, NFC or Bluetooth unfortunately.
In the end, if you are serious about printing high quality designs, then this is among the best printers for graphic design that actually costs quite low for its grade.
Also Read: Best Wide Format Printers
3. Canon PIXMA PRO-10 – 10 Pigment Ink System
27.2 x 15.2 x 8.5 in (W x D x H)
The Canon PIXMA Pro-10 is a professional color inkjet that distinguishes itself with 10 pigment ink system.
The printer uses a 10-ink system with two blacks, two grays, two cyan, two magenta, Yellow and Red pigment inks. Owing to the pigment inks the printer is able to dazzle the viewers with the wide gamut, color depth and long-lasting photos.
With respect to graphic design printing, the Pro-10 pulls it through with good quality text and graphics but the print speed is slow.
The pigment inks allow for sharp and accurate printing in combination with Canon’s technologies LUCIA TD and LIFE inkjet nozzle.
You can print on a maximum of 13” x 19” sheet, with the paper fed from a 150-page ADF border or from a single-sheet rear slot. You have the option of borderless printing.
The printing speed is approx. 3 minutes 35 seconds for 8” x 10” Image on A4 with Border and approx. 5 minutes 20 seconds for 11” x 14” inch Image on A3+ with Border.
The connectivity options of Pro-10 are also limited to Wi-Fi, Ethernet and USB like the Pro-100, with no direct wireless connectivity options like Wi-Fi Direct, NFC and Bluetooth sadly enough.
The Pro-10 offers the best combination of price, speed, size and photo print quality among the three Pro models.
If you came here specifically looking for a robust pigment ink printer, then this is one of the best printers for graphic design.
Also Read: Best Pigment Ink Printer
4. Epson Expression Premium ET-7700 – For Printing Large Volumes
23.5 x 16.7 x 7.7 in (W x D x H)
The Epson Expression Premium ET-7700 is an All-in-One (AIO) inkjet printer that prints, scans and copies.
However, its main attraction is its high quality supertank that can allow you to print thousands of graphics sheets at a relatively cheap cost.
It comes in a SuperTank 5-ink model with dyes CMYK plus an extra black, and has good print speed. You can print at 13 ppm for Monochrome and 10 ppm for color.
Owing to the super dooper SuperTank for ink storage, the per page printing costs are a mere 0.3 cents per monochrome page and 1.1 cents per color page. A huge plus for this printer.
As for the paper handling, there is a main tray for 100 plain letter sheets and a rear feed that can hold 10 sheets. A mini tray above the main tray can hold 20 photo paper sheets. This model has no ADF for scanning and copying multipage documents unattended.
The photo print quality is reasonable and not a forte for this printer, although, for the meager printing price this model is great for high volume consumer photo printing.
Unlike the Canon models discussed above, the ET-7700 comes with a 2.7” color LCD and a good range of connectivity options. Ethernet, WiFi, WiFi Direct and Hi-speed USB 2.0 with Thumb drive and Memory card option.
Basically, this is printer for those who are not highly particular about the smallest details in their graphics. In other words, this is one of the best printers for graphic design among the printer with supertanks.
Also Read: Best Printers with Refillable Ink Cartridge
5. Epson SureColor P800 – The Crème de la Crème of Color Printers
26.93 x 14.80 x 9.85 in (W x D x H)
The Epson SureColor P800 is a color inkjet printer for top-notch professional quality prints for hobbyists and designers alike.
Out of the all the 5 printers discussed, this one stands out in terms of print quality, whether you are talking about text, graphics or photos; whether you are printing color photos or black and white photos.
The colors are accurate and vibrant; the black density is superior and the prints are long lasting.
There is one catch though. While it does have the best image quality of all the printers listed here, it also has the highest price tag as well as high operating cost.
The printer comes with pigment-based Epson UltraChrome technology and Advance MicroPiezo AMC print head.
It uses an 8-ink system with 9 inks in total. Here, Matte Black and Photo Black inks are used one at a time.
The printer has an auto-switching technology for swapping the inks, which however, causes some ink to be wasted in the process, so be cautioned.
With a maximum supported width of 17” and provision for Roll paper, it is possible to print even professional quality banners. Borderless printing is also supported.
The cost is not a matter of discussion because these machines are expensive to buy and expensive to maintain. The main cost consideration is that of the volume of ink used which in this case is 70 cents per ml.
The paper handling allows 120 sheets of a maximum of 17” x 22” sheet size. There is a manual single sheet feeder at the front and an optional roll paper provision, for 17” or 13” wide roll with a 2” or 3” core. Unfortunately, no cutter is provided with the roll mechanism.
As for the communication, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct and USB provide a sufficient range of connectivity options in combination with the many software applications available.
Basically, if you make a living out of your work, then this is among the best printers for graphic design.
How do Laser color printers compare with inkjet printers for graphic designing?
Laser color printers are great for printing graphics and text. The primary forte of inkjet printers is photo printing.
How can inkjet printers be good at printing of both photos and graphics?
Inkjets are primarily used for photo printing. With dye inks, the quality of graphics is generally average to low. Pigment inks, on the other hand, allow for best results of both photo and graphics printing because they do not have the tendency to smudge.
Why are inkjet printers generally used for color graphic design printing rather than Laserjet printers?
The color laserjet printers are considerably more expensive and hence less affordable in comparison to color inkjet printers.
For printing graphics using inkjet printers, the quality of results improves with higher number of inks for color accuracy.
Hence, the best printers or graphic design offer more than 4 inks and can go all the way to featuring 10 difference shades of CMYK.
While the prints that they produce are o high quality, they are quite expensive to procure and to operate.
Therefore, these specialized printers must be backed by a business with a positive ROI to justify the investment.