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 2 types of inkjet inks that will work well for printing your own hydrographics on Hydrokon Film: latex and pigment-based. Some to AVOID are dye-based, sublimation, and laser printers inks as well as solvent inks. These all can create many challenges for the user. Solvent inks have not been tested for use with Hydrokon Water Transfer Film.

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 Facebook support group, Hydrographic Heroes by Hydrokon , where users of blank water transfer film can share tips, tricks, and more with each other.

Popular printers using pigment ink type as of January 2021

NOTE: Each printer's optimal settings for use with Hydrokon water transfer film may vary. Hydrokon film has been tested for compatibility with general ink types only (pigment based or latex based) and not specific printer brands or available settings.


Printer Model                                              Ink Type
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
ET-2720 Colors = Dye, Black = pigment


Printer Model                                           Ink Type
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