How to Improve Printing Results on Uncoated Paper

run with inxwellbook

Ever have this problem? You print photos on uncoated paper only to have all the details go fuzzy and shadows turn into featureless, black blobs? Or you print a large area of solid color and it looks mottled, blotchy or washed out? These are issues sometimes found with the printing results on uncoated paper. It is the nature of this paper to absorb ink and have dot gain, but with the proper paper selection (and pre-press adjustments) some of these problems can be minimized, if not averted. As for the paper choice, let us show you Mohawk Options.

The mighty fine folks at Mohawk created a technology never before seen in the paper industry called Inxwell. It’s a patented process exclusive to Mohawk, a top secret recipe applied during the manufacturing wet state, that many mills have tried to imitate with no success.  The Inxwell technology answered yes to the question, “Can uncoated paper perform more like a coated paper and can uncoated printing results be improved?”  The results of the Inxwell process are decreased dot gain,  improved ink holdout and minimized ink mottle with the added bonus of increased paper opacity. Photography looks sharp and full of contrast, shadows and midtones don’t get muddy, colors stay vibrant and solids print evenly.

covercaddyorange_rszd“A Simple Game” printed promotion suggests that, as in golf, even the slightest adjustment in your swing can result in great improvements in your game. The same is true in paper and print. Specifying Mohawk Options can be a game changer in printing results. This book not only showcases Options’s ability to beautifully reproduce photographs with one of the most persnickety of subjects to hold detail (grass on a golf course), but educates with its print comparisons between finishes, screen adjustments, different shades of white, and coatings.

photo screen adjust

As a general rule with uncoated papers, imagery should be adjusted for dot gain in pre-press. This print comparison demonstrates the mid-tones of the photographs adjusted (screens opened up and dots made smaller) 5%, 10% and 15% to an image that has not been adjusted at all. These adjustments are not something a designer should do, but instead rely on their printer’s pre-press. Here’s an excellent video explaining curve adjustments and advice to designers from Mohawk’s Pam McGuire.


PicMonkey Collage4A

The above printed piece is a self promo for photographer Peter Ross, titled “Which Five People Would You Invite to Dinner.” First, his photographs printed fantastic. (A photographer is probably going to be the pickiest of paper-pickers to showcase his photos in the best light). Second, the stiffness and opacity of the paper is incredible (the Inxwell technology adds 1.5 points of opacity compared to it’s competitors). WIth a  tabloid format printed on 70# text, one would expect a rather limp feel with lots of ink show through, but instead it is bulky and stout with back to back photos that don’t compete. Here’s a handy tip: You can specify a lower basis weight in Mohawk Options because the 70# text has similar opacity and stiffness as its competitor’s 80# text. And since paper is bought by the pound,  the lower basis weight will save you money….especially on postal costs if your project mails.


Mohawk Options kept all the details in the photography, down to the slivers in the wood table, in this poster created for the Lincoln Marathon by Bailey Lauerman and printed by Barnhart

Mohawk Options can also solve a common client / designer delimma…the client wants coated paper because they want their photos to pop and the designer likes the tactile and substantial feel that uncoated papers brings to the project. Selecting Options allows for a happy compromise where both objectives are met and the project is all the better for it.

options SB

Mohawk Options color palette is limited to white and naturals; after all, this is a paper selected as a foundation for 4-color photography and floods of color. Three distinct finishes are available – vellum, smooth and navajo smooth, which is the smoothest uncoated sheet available in the market (45 Sheffield). A plethora of weights range from 24# to 180# cover making it suitable for a bevy of printed materials. Options was one of the original cross platform sheets, meaning it could run on both offset and digital presses, and has expanded their digital offering further with Options Digital with i-tone guaranteed for the HP Indigo.

Printers, please note that printing inks sit up on the surface of Inxwell papers and require less ink and water than other uncoated papers. For best results and to avoid drying issues nominalrun with inxwellbook wet ink densities should be close to K: 130-135, C: 115-120, M: 115-120, Y: 85-95. More printing tips can be found here. Another great resource for both printers and designers is Mohawk’s “How to Run with Inxwell” booklet available to see online or, better yet, request a printed copy from Field Paper.

Options swatch books and all printed promotions featured are available in our sample room, including a limited supply of the Lincoln Marathon posters (check out prior years of these award winning posters). Contact your Field Sales or Spec Rep for your copy today.