Printers and Inks for Printing on Blank PVA Film

Printers and Inks for Printing on Blank PVA Film

Posted by Jeremy Peterson on Jan 27th 2021


One of the most asked questions regarding printing your own hydrographic films is ‘What printers and inks will work for this process?’ Of course, people want to know if the printer they already have will be adequate, or if they are considering purchasing a new printer, they want to be sure it will provide the desired results.

In general, there are 3 types of inkjet inks that will work for printing your own hydrographics: solvent, latex, and pigment-based. Some to AVOID are dye-based and sublimation, along with laser printers inks. These all can create many challenges for the user.

Solvent Inks
Advantages – Films ready for dipping immediately after printing, no need for topcoat prior to dipping.
Disadvantages – Initial printer cost >$20,000, unpleasant smell, high maintenance

Latex Inks
Advantages – Films ready for dipping immediately after printing, no need for topcoat prior to dipping.
Disadvantages – Initial printer cost >$8,000

Pigment Inks
Advantages – Initial printers cost between $300-$5,000, but there are many printer options.
Disadvantages – Must use a topcoat (aka Activator A) after printing

As you can see from the comparison above, the biggest differences among the suggested inks are price and the need to apply an additional topcoat after printing when using pigment-based inks.

For established hydrographic businesses looking to invest, the latex printer option may be best. You can find 54” wide HP Latex printers for under $10,000 that will allow for high-end graphics while avoiding the need for any post-processing of the prints prior to dipping. You can also use a variety of medias to create professional indoor and outdoor signage.

For those looking to spend a little less, or curious if their current printer will work for hydrographics, there are plenty of pigment-based printers available in a wide-range of prices from companies like Epson, Canon, and HP.

With Epson, you want to find printers using either the UltraChrome or DURABrite Ultra line of inks. These range from the Workforce WF-3820 that can be purchased for around $150, all the way up to the wide-format P9000 printer at $5,000. You will want to AVOID the Expression line of printers and any other printers using the dye-based Claria inks.

Canon has a bit more limited range of pigment-based ink printers, but you can use either their imagePROGRAF or MAXIFY lines of printers for hydrographics. You will want to AVOID their PIXMA line of printers, as the colors other than black are dye-based inks.

The HP OfficeJet Pro printer series also uses pigment-based inks, along with the DesignJet Z6 and Z9+ printers. In addition, any of the latex printers from HP will work very well for hydrographics. The Deskjet, Envy, and most DesignJet printers from HP all use dye-based inks and should not be used for printing hydrographics with the exception to DesignJet Z6 and Z9+ .

Hopefully, this blog helps clarify what printers and inks can be used for printing your own hydrographic images on blank PVA. If you have any further questions about what printers and inks can be used with this process, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help. We also have a new Facebook support group, Hydrographic Heroes by Hydrokon .

printer ink type as of January 2021


Printer Model                                              Ink Type
PIXMA iX6820 Dye
PIXMA iP8720 Dye
TS9520 Dye
TR8620 Dye
TS6420 Dye
TS-6320 Dye
TR-4520 Dye
TS-5320 Dye
MG-3620 Dye
TS-3320 Dye
TR-7020 Dye
TS-9521 Dye
TS-8329 Dye
TR-8520 Dye
TR-7520 Dye
MG-2525 Dye
imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 Pigment
imagePROGRAF PRO-300 Pigment
imagePROGRAF PRO-10 Pigment
imagePROGRAF TA-20 Pigment
imagePROGRAF TA-30 Pigment
MB5420 Pigment
MB5120 Pigment
MB2120 Pigment
IB-4120 Pigment
MB-2720 Pigment


Printer Model                                           Ink Type
P600 Pigment - Ultrachrome HD
P700 Pigment - Ultrachrome PRO10
P900 Pigment - Ultrachrome PRO10
T3170 Pigment - Ultrachrome XD2
P6000 Pigment - Ultrachrome HD
P9000 Pigment - Ultrachrome HDX
P9570 Pigment - Ultrachrome PRO12
P20000 Pigment - Ultrachrome PRO
WF-4820 Pigment - DURABrite Ultra
WF-4730 Pigment - DURABrite Ultra
WF-7210 Pigment - DURABrite Ultra
WF-4830 Pigment - DURABrite Ultra
WF-7820 Pigment - DURABrite Ultra
WF-7840 Pigment - DURABrite Ultra
WF-4740 Pigment - DURABrite Ultra
WF-3820 Pigment - DURABrite Ultra
PM-400 Dye
XP-8600 Dye (Claria)
XP-970 Dye (Claria)
XP-15000 Dye (Claria)
WF-2830 Dye (Claria)
WF-2860 Dye (Claria)
ET-2720 Colors = Dye, Black = pigment


Printer Model                                           Ink Type
DeskJet Dye
Envy Dye
Tango Dye
OfficeJet 200 Dye
DesignJet T230 Dye
DesignJet T250 Dye
DesignJet T630 Dye
DesignJet T650 Dye
DesignJet Studio Wood/Steel Dye
DesignJet T730 Dye
DesignJet T830 Dye
OfficeJet Pro 8025e Pigment
OfficeJet Pro 8035e Pigment
OfficeJet Pro 9015e Pigment
OfficeJet Pro 8210 Pigment
OfficeJet Pro Premier Pigment
DesignJet Z6 Pigment
DesignJet Z9+ Pigment
HP Latex Printers 115/315/335/365/560/570

For European inquiries, contact distributor, HARKE Imaging: +49 (0) 208-3069-1700 | E-mail HARKE Imaging