Ink Wash Painting: A Long Standing Tradition

Ink has many uses from practical applications to more artistic ones. One of the earliest of these ink art forms, and one of the most technically demanding, is ink wash painting. Said to originate out of China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), this art uses calligraphy ink to create landscapes that are often imaginary or loose interpretations of actual places. Since the Tan Dynasty, this type of ink painting has spread to other Asian countries, and has even inspired notable American artists, including Georgia O'Keeffe. More...

Summer Crafts to Spice Up Your BBQ

 

Though it might be too late to spruce up your Fourth of July BBQ with some homemade crafts, there are at least 6 weeks left to add decorative touches to your next outdoor party. With a paper pinwheel or homemade labels for your items, these little details go a long way in providing creative flair to keep your guests entertained and talking. Like our blog post on Father's Day crafts, these projects take little more than a few steps and a trip to the craft store. More...

Near Field Communication Printing

No doubt 2013 has been one of the more exciting years in recent memory for developments in printing technology. With the vast expansion in capabilities of 3D printing and mobile applications, it's now easier and more efficient to print than ever before. However, mobile app technologies have been shown to have many limitations. With a new type of technology, called Near Field Communication (NFC), printing from your mobile phone might get considerably easier. More...

Business Card Makeover

21. June 2013 04:31 by Calvin Yu in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Maybe you're getting into a summer lull at work or gearing up for a once-a-year business conference. No matter the occasion, when was the last time you thought to update your business cards? These little cards matter more than people think, especially in terms of design. Serving as a first impression, they could help you be remembered for upcoming business deals or future job opportunities. The following tips will help you spruce up your business cards and really make an impression, whatever the event might be. More...

3D Printing and Medical Applications

3D printing is the most talked about new development in printing technology at the moment, particularly with Amazon's recent opening of a dedicated 3D printing page on their website. While the discussion is focused on the consumer aspect of this technology, we wanted to focus on the more high tech applications, including how these technological developments show promise for the medical field. Though 3D printing is still relatively expensive, rapidly decreasing costs and the development of new types of materials used in printing prosthetics make this technology viable for many larger research-focused hospitals. With the future looking bright for medical applications of 3D printing, there is great hope that medical costs and recovery times can be reduced. More...

DIY Gift Ideas For Father's Day

With Father's Day just over two weeks away, now is the time to start making the perfect gift to surprise dad. He might like golf clubs, grilling equipment, or some new ink cartridges for his printer, but nothing says "I love you" quite like a homemade gift. After suggesting gift ideas for Mother's Day, we knew Father's Day was a perfect occasion to get those creative juices flowing again! Here are a few ideas that any dad is sure to appreciate. 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.

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?

Maximizing Your Home Photography Printing

inkjet photo printerAs digital cameras are now the preferred method for taking photographs, the business of photographic printing at home has grown. Often times, however, many who get home printers aren't aware of which printers are best to buy, the cost involved with printing photographs at home, and other important information on the subject. We wanted to provide that information both for those amateur enthusiasts and devoted pros. 

An easy place to start looking for photo-based printers is by browsing through technology blogs' best-of lists. For instance, CNET has a list of the best inkjet printers for photography. Inkjet pinters are preferred because they tend to save ink over laser printers, are more compact, and use technology where tiny ink droplets create a higher quality image. When considering specific inkjet models, it's a good idea to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much do I want to spend? Inkjet models can range from $160 to almost $500 depending on the features and manufacturer.
  • How big are my photos going to be? For images larger than 8 x 10 inches, you'll need to consult a professional printer. For those smaller sized photos, home printing can save a few cents per photo, and a lot of added convenience. This review of printing 4 x 6 inch prints showed the reduction in cost at home.
  • What else do I need my printer to do? While this seems like a no brainer, many neglect to consider everything they use their printer for. If you're looking for copy or fax ability, and to be able to print higher volumes in black and white, a multi-purpose inkjet is your best bet.
  • How much does the ink itself cost? Many don't take into account the cost of color ink, which can run $20-$50 per cartridge, depending on the model. Visit our website to do cost comparisons, and to find potential deals by buying ink cartridge packages for multi-cartridge printing.

Once you have considered the right model, it's important to consider if you want to do photo-editing. While most computers have basic image editing capabilities (including cropping, changing saturation or sharpness, and resizing), for those who need more advanced image-editing capabilities, you'll need to consider additional software. The most popular software is Adobe Photoshop, which costs $699. However, if you're not familiar with this software, it may require books or online courses to become familiar with all of the features, so it is only recommended for those devoted pros.

It's also important to be aware of two things while using these home inkjet printers. When printing with a high-gloss photo paper, you will need to give your prints time to dry, otherwise your image will smudge. While the ink cartridges sometimes clog, especially after periods where they haven't been used for a long time, they can be fixed easily, and many resources are available online to guide you through that process.

Now that you know the many advantages, minor disadvantages, and other considerations when choosing photographic printing at home, you're ready to go out and record those special moments you want to remember forever! Feel free to share your favorite photos or other home printing tips below.

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