Artwork You Can Print Out and Hang on Your Wall -- M.C. Escher

A print of a classic work of visual art from your HP laser printer is a great way to liven up your surroundings at home or the office. Many large high-resolution reproductions of iconic photographs, paintings, drawings and prints can be found with a quick search on Google Images, and they can be resized to handily print out on an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of photo paper or coverstock.  For monochrome prints, you will achieve the best results from a laser printer versus an inkjet printer.  To print color artwork, a photo inkjet printer will produce a better quality piece.

This month, we are going to take a quick look at the work of one of the most gifted and influential artists to come from the Netherlands, M.C. Escher. More...

High-Resolution Printing Without Ink

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One of the most dynamic endeavors in the arena of computer technology has been the quest to build a machine that will offer the sharpest rendition of any given image in the highest resolution possible. Through the years, the technology has advanced and there have been numerous innovations for consumer needs, such as three-dimensional printing, which has enabled people to create anything from artificial skulls to Star Wars figures. Unfortunately, despite the innovations in the realm of computer printing, stumbling blocks have come about, which will make the widespread use of this technology possible only many years in the future.

A Pioneering Discovery in Singapore

In August 2012, a team of scientists at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore have struck upon a method of producing high-definition, full color images at 100,000 dots per inch without using any ink. This resolution is ten times that of top-of-the-line printers, which feature the ability to print images at a mere 10,000 dpi.

A Novel Concept Inspired by an Ancient Idea

Taking their inspiration from the concept of stained glass, which was made by mixing tiny metal fragments into glass, the scientists used nanometer-sized metal disks arranged upon a reflective surface. When the disks come into contact with light, small vibrations their electrons occur, resulting in the adding or subtracting of colors from the visible spectrum, depending upon where the disks are placed. Since the disks are so small, they can be clustered very closely together, yielding a particularly sharp image.

As such, this technique allows coloring to be viewed an idea that has more in common with the concept of etching an image into stone, as opposed to an inking matter. Such a concept could very possibly bring radical change to the notion of how images are printed and further developed.

New Possibilities Abound

It may take a good deal of time before this technology is made widely available for everyday use, especially since the process of 100,000-dpi inkless printing takes hours. However, it bodes well that this innovative method will be particularly useful to industries specializing in high-resolution reflective color displays, anti-counterfeiting measures, high-density optical data storage and perhaps one day might enable more detailed three-dimensional printing. In fact, for months, A*STAR's technology transfer arm, Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd, has been shopping this technology around to potential collaborators in the hopes of finding a suitable licensing arrangement.

Getting Instagrammed Moments on Paper

 

In a previous blog post, we featured a mobile app that would allow you to print directly from your phone to your Canon printer. But what if you don't have a Canon device and you want to get photos from the popular smartphone app Instagram printed? Thankfully, in the increasingly mobile-centric world, you don't have to look too hard to find the perfect option-- Printstagram. Offered on both your smartphone and your web browser, the service allows you to transform any Instagrammed moment into a fully realized physical object.  With mobile cameras becoming increasingly better at taking high resolution photos, this is a perfect option for amateurs and pros alike to capture the moments traditional photography cannot.

How does Printstagram work?

If you're accessing Printstagram though your web browser, simply go to the main page and click the desired type of printing you want. When you click 'Buy Now', it will prompt you to log-in to Instagram with your username and password. After that, you're free to select the photos you want and within 14 business days, Prinstagram will ship the products to you.

For those with a smartphone running Apple iOS, you can download Printsagram's "Print Studio" app for free. By downloading the app, you'll be able to automatically synch your Instagram photos through your camera and order prints on the go.

What sizes of prints do they offer?

Printstagram is thankfully able to offer a wide variety of sizes. The smallest are the mini stickers, which measure less than 1 square inch and cost $10 for 252 total stickers. Individual prints can range considerably, including more expensive options like the 8x8 inch framed print for $60. For those who want high gloss options, Printstagram also offers posters up to 28x30 inches, which can be comprised of up to 512 different Instagram photos.

What occasions is Printstagram good for?

Every occasion. Really! You can use Prinstagram to get photos or posters to decorate your desk, an empty wall, or a refrigerator. But the prints also make great gifts! For instance, you can create a calendar that includes 365 different prints, making it a great way to show a loved one the photos that matter most to you. You can also create mini prints, which measure approximately 8.5x5.5 centimeters, making them perfect to slip into your cards during the next holiday season.

How long do the prints last?

Though it might depend on the type of print and exposure to light, all of the prints are produced with premium photo paper or card stock with glossy or matte finishes that help preserve shelf life. The posters are also printed on a special thick Fuji Crystal Archive paper, preventing the wear and tear that might easily come with posters. Needless to say, you want to go back to Printstagram to get new prints made every month.

If you use your phone primarily to take pictures, or want to be able to capture those on-the-go moments without having to worry about lugging around a bulky camera, Printstagram is the perfect option for getting mobile photos from Instagram available in physical form. Whether you're keeping them to yourself, or sharing them with others, no moment is a bad moment to hand out these printed memories. However, if you are too impatient to wait 14 days to get prints, now's the time to stock up on ink cartridges to do it yourself.

No matter how you plan on printing life's special moments, please share some of your favorite photographed moments below!

 

Spring Cleaning For Your Electronics

spring cleaningMarch 20th marked the beginning of spring and, for many, the annual spring cleaning ritual. While most focus on cleaning out the car, tossing excess clutter, and carefully scrubbing every surface free of dust and dirt, most neglect one of the most important electronic devices-- the printer. Though it's difficult to tell just how dirty a printer might have gotten during the winter months, it's important to remove any excess grime and test how the printer is working to ensure the highest quality experience. Failing to clean out your printer can result in poor printing quality, especially for photographs or color printing.

Before printing, check your printer manual or contact your manufacturer for best cleaning practices.

Every printer, like every floor or counter, is designed differently and thus requires specific care. Whether you have an inkjet, laser or solid ink printer, your manufacturer knows the best ways to avoid damaging the delicate (and essential) components of your printer.

Always make sure your printer is off and fully unplugged.

Ensuring your printer is not connected to any power source eliminates the risk of electrical shock. At the same time, by allowing the machine's internal components to power down, you prevent potential burns to yourself, as components in laser printers can get especially hot.

Never directly spray any type of cleaning solution onto your printer.

Though you should check with your printer to see if there are particular solvents you can use to clean the exterior (body) of the printer, it's never a good idea to spray anything onto your printer. Moisture accumulating in any component of the printer can cause irreparable damage. A dry, lint-free cloth is recommended, though many companies now make electronics wipes for your printer's body.

Avoid cleaning internal components unless you have experience.

You can, and should, examine ink cartridges to ensure there is no spilled ink, leaks, or other debris that has collected. However, avoid unscrewing components or touchings parts (including the feed rollers) as these can be permanently damaged. Certain models have self-cleaning mechanisms that can save you the hassle of wondering which components to touch (or not).

Don't forget to print a test page at the end of the process.

When you've finished your cleaning process, be sure to print a test page. If it's been several months since you've last used your printer, inks can settle, adversely affecting print quality. If the ink isn't moving properly through your printer, these inconsistencies will show up, especially during color printing. If you are satisfied with the results, you've successfully cleaned your printer! If you are experiencing ghosting you may have a part that is defective; otherwise consult your manufacturer's website or contact an electronics specialist.

You might be ready for a printer change, so don't forget to recycle.

You might be feeling like it's time to get an upgraded printer or find one best designed for your needs. If that's the case, don't forget to recycle your electronics. Adding them to a landfill only increases the risk of environmental contamination from ink and other printer components. Best Buy is one of the retailers that offers a national recycling program and if you have 8+ empty cartridges that need to be recycled, we have a free recycling program that includes a prepaid return shipping label.

 

As always, spring is the best time to replenish those depleted ink cartridges! Feel free to share some of your favorite cleaning tips for electronics below or ask any questions if you're looking for that perfect new printer this spring.

Quest For the Beginner's 3D Printer

3d printerIf you've been keeping up to date on the news, you've probably heard of 3D printing. Chances are also likely that you may be unsure exactly what the technology does! Though 3D printing is not a new technology, for the first time in its history, it has received attention for producing everything from artificial skulls to Star Wars figurines.

Companies have finally released prototypes of smaller, more cost efficient 3D printers designed for everyday customer use, with MakerBot displaying their model during this year's South by Southwest Festival, one of the country's largest film, music, and technology festivals.

How does 3D printing work?

So how exactly does 3D printing work? A 3D printer is essentially a more complex version of your standard desktop printer, often with some sort of encasing or protective covering that enables a 3D object to be produced. Though inks are used to cover objects, 3D printers work by extracting liquids, powders or metals with incredible precision to create 0.05-0.1 millimeter thick sheets of material that form the basis for whatever object you are creating. These objects are modeled from visual blueprints that are created using imaging software. This image file varies depending on the type of object you are producing, but whatever the file is, the printer is able to interpret the file to make sure the objects have both the correct shape and correct dimensions.

For those without a background in graphic or industrial design, or a lot of money and space, 3D printing is impractical. Not only does creating 3D image blueprints require extensive knowledge, but many machines are large and typically cost well over $1000. However, as mentioned above, companies are are increasingly looking to downsize their models and streamline the process to let even those without the fundamentals of graphic design have fun.

Scan and print technology from MakerBot

MakerBot, a Brooklyn-based global leader in 3D printing since 2009, is among the first of these companies to invest in the beginner market. Their technology, dubbed the Digitizer Desktop 3D scanner, will enable you to scan objects up to 8 inches tall and 8 inches wide using lasers and a webcam. Once the image is scanned, a computer program automatically reads the data, producing the 3D image that the printer can then produce the object with. As a Digital Trends article on the launch comments, "It’s fantastic for recreating a broken link on your bracelet or making a replica of your favorite cup." Though there are no details yet on price or a release date, MakerBot has a sign up sheet so that users can be notified when these details are finalized.

When will 3D printing reach the masses?

Though we are many years away from 3D printing being accessible in much the same way highly quality photo printing used to be out of reach for most households, companies are taking the lead to ensure more people have access to this technology. Please let us know your thoughts on 3D printing. Do you think it's a waste of time or a tool you could see yourself using one day?

How Printing Can Be Green

It's no surprise to most that home or office printing is not friendly to the environment. Beyond the obvious amount of paper waste, many types of printers use complex internal printing mechanisms and ink cartridges that produce a lot of added waste. As the two groups forming the Environment Industry Associations report, every year 300 million empty cartridges get added into the waste stream. Because it takes 1 gallon of oil to produce a single ink cartridge, the environmental impact is enormous.

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However, with advances made to printer quality, recycling, and awareness over printing practices, your printing experience doesn't have to wreck the environment in the process. Printing green also has an added benefit--efficiency. With more efficient practices, you'll save yourself money in the process. The following tips are intended to be starting points for thinking about what impact your home or office practices have.

  • Print double-sided on post-consumer recycled paper. It seems like a no-brainer to print on both sides of a sheet of paper, but surprisingly few people do it. By using double-sided printing, you instantly reduce your paper waste by half. At the same time, it's important to find post-consumer recycled paper, meaning the paper is made of recycled pulp from other consumer products. Many stores like Staples or Office Max will have Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) labels to indicate these practices have been verified.
  • Print on the lowest quality ink setting, except in necessary occasions. Factory printer settings typically aren't set up for the lowest quality ink setting, but unless you are printing professional color documents or photographs, there is no need to print outside of the 'draft' setting. You can significantly reduce how quickly you use up the existing ink in your cartridge.
  • When shopping for a new printer, consider ENERGY STAR labels and intended usage. Like the FSC labeling paper products, ENERGY STAR labels consumer and professional electronics and appliances on how effectively they use energy. When shopping, be sure to look for the distinct light blue logo. Thinking about intended use is a good consideration when making a printer purchase. One of the first questions to ask is, "Do I need to print only in black and white or color?" Monochrome printers use only one ink cartridge, reducing waste, whereas color printers can have four or more separate cartridges that can increase waste.
  • Recycle your cartridges! This is the single most effective way of reducing cartridge waste. When throwing out a cartridge in the trash, it'll likely end up spending decades in a landfill. With increasingly sophisticated methods for repurposing old cartridges, there is really no reason not to. Earth911 even has a search for companies that re-purpose cartridges by city.
  • Ask yourself, "Do I really need to print this?" While we are an ink and toner business, we also want to make sure you're printing only what you need. With new digital systems for reading, signing, and storing documents, printing out items, especially related to work, may not be necessary. Consider synching email, documents, photographs, or other items to your smartphone, tablet, or reading device to save on printing output.
  • Finally, and perhaps easiest of all, power off and unplug your printer when not in use. Unless you expect a busy day of high-use printing, having a printer on and/or plugged in uses a lot of residual energy. This will help reduce your monthly electric bill as well.

Though these are just some of the tips we have for printing in a more eco and wallet friendly way, there are many other tips we haven't included. Leave your favorite green printing trick below.

Homemade Cards Make a Creative Impression

Yes, today is Valentine's Day, that holiday where you go out and buy your loved one a card, flowers or maybe chocolates. Luckily, you're just in time to make your own card for this Valentine's Day! Homemade cards are a way to show your significant other (or anyone else, for that matter) how creative and thoughtful you are. With so many options available, taking the extra time to make a card from the comfort of your own home goes a long way.

Making a card from home might seem like a daunting task, but the process is actually very easy. Though you can go to your local craft store (like Michael's) to purchase scrapbooking supplies for cutout letters, rubber figurines, and ribbons, this isn't a requirement. As long as you have a thick 8.5 by 11 inch card stock in the color of your choosing, an envelope, a working printer with multicolored ink, and Microsoft Word, you're all set to begin making your own masterpiece.

The steps for making the card are simple:

  • First, you need to get your inspiration! What holiday or event are you creating a card for? While Valentine's Day is the obvious example for today, what if you wanted to make a card for Father's Day? Luckily, the internet offers plenty of examples, particularly the social image sharing website Pinterest and handmade goods marketplace Etsy.
  • With your inspiration in mind, open up Microsoft Word. If you are familiar with more advanced programs like Photoshop, feel free to use those, but for those without graphic design knowledge, Word will be your go-to choice. A standard greeting card size is 5 inches by 7 inches. Since you are printing two sides, the height would be 7 inches and the width should be 10 inches. Make sure that your page is also set to landscape orientation.
  • In order to determine which side is which, you'll need to use the draw tool to make a line down the middle of the card. How do you know where to put it? Word uses a ruler at the top of every page. Since the width is 10 inches, you need to mark it off at 5 inches.
  • Next you must determine which panel will be the outside of the card and which will be the inside. If you plan on only printing an image on the front of the card, the right-hand panel on your screen will be where you need to place the image. If you are printing on both the inside and outside, you will need to create two separate pages in Word, the first page functioning as the cover and the second page functioning as the inside. Double check to make sure you've set things up correctly by doing test runs on your normal printer paper.
  • With the page set up, now the fun can begin! Feel free to add any images or graphics you feel are relevant. Do you want the card to be personal, funny, cute or playful? Using the right image can do a lot to set the mood/tone of a card. Here, you can also use the text box feature to adjust where you position the text on the page. Take time to experiment with fonts. Just remember not to use the text to put your name in the card. You'll want to sign it later!
  • When you're satisfied with your test design, go to File => Print and do another test copy. You'll want to make sure everything is in the right spot on the page, and nothing goes outside of the printer's margins. Once satisfied, be sure to remove your regular paper and insert the 8.5 by 11 inch card stock into the printer's feed. Before printing, go to your printer settings to ensure your print quality is on "best" or "high quality." Though this uses more ink, it will give you better image quality.
  • Click print, and voilà, you've got your card ready!

Though you can glue on all of the other craft items at the end, you don't have to. Just be sure to write a personalized note and sign your name to make things official. Though it may have taken a little bit of time to get all of the graphics and images just right, others will take notice and thank you for your creative efforts!

So get crafty just in time to say "I love you" to that special someone. Feel free to share your best designs, tips and tricks below.

Featured App: Canon Mobile Printing

24. January 2013 11:36 by Calvin Yu in Technology News  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Cannon mobile printing appPrinting from your mobile phone sounds convenient, right? Thankfully Canon, one of the world's largest producers of imaging and optical products, has released the Canon Easy-PhotoPrint App, with versions for Apple's iOS, Android, and Windows. This free easy-to-use mobile app allows you to print photos and PDF files directly from your camera, receive scanned documents directly from your printer, and convert PDFs into JPEG image files.

What we like best: Besides the convenience of being able to capture those on-the-go moments without the hassle of syncing or transferring files, we appreciate being able to receive scanned documents on an iPhone. Imagine having an old photo you've always wanted to share with one of your best friends. Now you can easily get it synced to your phone and have the ooo-ing and awww-ing commence.

Another great feature is the ability to screenshot and print pages. Imagine, for instance, you're looking up some trails for a hike where you won't have internet access on your phone. You can convert the webpage to an image file and remotely print the map to your printer. You even have the ability to easily adjust paper size, color output, and how many copies you need! This helps ensure there will never be a fight in the car over who gets to look at the map.

The downsides: While it makes printing some types of documents easy, other reviewers have reported having trouble with Microsoft Office documents. This might prove tricky if you're importing a business report or using Microsoft Word while on your iPad.

Though you do, of course, have to have a Canon printer, only certain models will work. So be sure to check out Canon's list of compatible models. Also, keep in mind that you either have to know your printer's IP address or be connected to the same WiFi network to have any documents or photos print out.

 

With the help of mobile technology and wireless networks, putting that special moment on the page is literally only a click away!

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