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The Best Printer For Cardstock in 2024

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If you’re delving into the realms of crafting, scrapbooking, or professional printing, you’ll know having the right printer can make or break your project. Heavyweight cardstock, a go-to for these creative pursuits, demands a printer that’s up to the task. However, not every printer can hold its own when faced with this challenging medium. In this article, we’ll give you our top picks for the best printer for cardstock and help you decide on the right fit for your business.

Welcome to our comprehensive guide, packed with insights on printers that don’t just cope, but excel at printing on heavyweight cardstock. Read on to learn about our top picks.

Challenges Printing to Cardstock

If you’ve ever tried printing on cardstock, you’ll know it’s not as straightforward as loading your everyday paper into the printer tray. You see, cardstock is considerably thicker and heftier than your standard printing paper, and these characteristics present unique challenges to your printer.

The primary issue arises with paper feeding – the mechanism most printers use to grab the paper and pull it through the system. Because of its substantial thickness, cardstock isn’t as flexible as regular paper, which can cause jamming or, worse, damage to your printer if it’s not equipped to handle such weight. The result? A frustrating situation where the printer repeatedly fails to feed the paper correctly.

But the challenges don’t stop at the feeding process. Once the cardstock is in place, the next hurdle is ink printing. Since cardstock has a different texture and absorbency level compared to regular paper, the ink might not adhere correctly. This can lead to prints that are blurred, smeared, or lack the vibrancy and sharpness you expected. So, it’s not just about getting the cardstock through the printer, but also ensuring that the final print quality meets your expectations.

What is Heavyweight Cardstock?

Now that you understand the challenges, let’s dig a little deeper into what we mean by “heavyweight cardstock”. This term might sound quite serious, but it’s just industry-speak for cardstock that’s particularly dense. In terms of measurements, we’re looking at cardstock that typically falls in the 200GSM (grams per square meter) or higher category.

In layman’s terms, GSM is like the BMI for paper. It gives you an idea of how heavy or thick a square meter of that paper would be, giving you a standard way to compare different types of paper. So, a 200GSM cardstock is denser and heavier than, say, your everyday 80GSM copy paper.

This heavyweight cardstock is celebrated for its sturdiness and its oh-so-satisfying firmness in your hand. It’s the go-to material for projects that need to convey a sense of quality and durability – think wedding invitations, professional business cards, custom postcards, and more. It’s this very thickness and durability, though, that presents the challenges we mentioned earlier when it comes to printing. 

GSM vs Pound Weight

GSM and pound weight are two measurements that give us an understanding of paper weight and thickness. Pound weight, often used in the US, indicates the weight of 500 sheets (or a ream) of paper in its basic uncut size, a dimension that can vary significantly depending on the paper type.

On the other hand, GSM, is a metric measurement that denotes the weight of paper calculated in grams for a single square meter. This measurement remains consistent regardless of the size of the sheet it’s being used to measure, making it a more accurate reflection of the paper’s actual density and thickness.

The relationship between these two measurements lies in their mutual goal to quantify paper weight. The higher the GSM or pound weight, the thicker and more substantial the paper will feel. It’s important to note that while these two measurements are related, they’re not directly interchangeable due to the variability of uncut sizes in the pound system.

To help paint a clearer picture of these weights, let’s consider a common paper product – business cards. They typically weigh in at about 110 lbs or fall within the range of 270 – 308 gsm. This weight and thickness give them a firm, sturdy feel, which is precisely what you want in a cardstock that needs to withstand some handling.

How We Chose The Best Printer for Heavyweight Cardstock

Our mission to find the best printer was based on a thorough evaluation, where each contender was assessed against certain criteria. 

Media Compatibility

Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, we looked at media compatibility. In other words, we assessed whether the printer can actually handle heavyweight cardstock. We wanted printers that can confidently process a variety of media types, including our star of the show, the heavyweight cardstock.

Specialty Feeds

Next on our list is specialty feeds because not all printers treat paper the same way. Some have been designed with special feed mechanisms or trays that accommodate thicker materials better than their standard counterparts. This little feature can make all the difference between a seamless printing process and one fraught with constant jams and misfeeds. 

Ink Absorption/Quality

But let’s not forget about the final product. Even if a printer can swallow cardstock whole, it doesn’t mean much if the end result looks like a toddler’s watercolor experiment. That’s why we also assessed printers on the quality of their ink absorption. A good printer should produce high-quality prints where the ink is well-absorbed by the cardstock, leading to clear, vibrant, and smudge-free prints.

Laser vs Inkjet

Finally, we considered the age-old debate: Laser or Inkjet? Both types have their strengths and can handle cardstock printing. However, inkjet printers often have an edge when it comes to printing on heavyweight cardstock. They’re typically better at handling a wider range of materials and produce superior color results, making them ideal for high-quality prints on cardstock.

As you read our recommendations, we encourage you to keep these factors in mind, consider your specific needs, and make an informed decision.

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Canon PIXMA PRO-200

Best Overall

Why it made the list: This printer made it to the top of our list due to its exceptional color accuracy and broad color gamut, making it excellent for professional photographers and designers. It can also handle the thickest and widest variety of paper with a max media thickness of 140 lb (380 gsm).

The PIXMA PRO-200 uses an 8-color dye ink system which ensures a wide color gamut, superior gradations, and detailed reproduction of colors. Whether you’re printing a vivid landscape or a finely detailed portrait, expect breathtaking results.

The printer is designed to handle a variety of sizes and types of media, from standard A4 papers to 13″x19″ wide-format papers. It can also print on different types of fine art paper, giving you the flexibility to choose the perfect medium for your work.

The PRO-200 is designed for speed. It can produce a high-quality, bordered A3+ print in approximately 90 seconds, ensuring that even large print jobs are handled quickly and efficiently. You can print documents with fast speeds of 14.5 images per minute (ipm) for black and 10.4 images per minute (ipm) for color.

Despite its professional-grade capabilities, the PIXMA PRO-200 features a compact design that makes it suitable for smaller studios or home offices. The printer supports both wired and wireless connections, ensuring easy integration into your existing workflow. 

Pros:

Excellent color accuracy: Ideal for printing high-resolution images or design work on heavy cardstock.

Wide range of media compatibility: Easily handles a variety of paper types, including heavy cardstock.

Cons:

Ink cost: It uses 8 separate ink cartridges which can be costly to replace.

No built-in scanner: This could be an issue if scanning functionality is required.

Canon Pixma iX6820

Runner Up

Why it made the list: Its ability to handle mid to heavy media and its impressive print quality, combined with its affordability, make it an excellent choice for cardstock printing.

The iX6820 uses a five-individual ink tank system, including a pigment-based black ink, to produce exceptionally detailed prints. The 9600 x 2400 maximum color dpi produces incredible quality and detail in both your business documents and photos.

If you need to go beyond the typical letter-sized documents, the iX6820 has got you covered. It can handle up to 13″ x 19″ prints, making it suitable for poster-sized graphics, spreadsheets, and panoramic photos. With a max paper weight of 120 lb (325 gsm), the iX6820 can handle a variety of tasks with ease. 

Efficiency is key in a printer, and the iX6820 offers an impressive speed of 14.5 images per minute for black and white prints and 10.4 images per minute for color prints.

With Advanced Media Handling, you have the option to print on CDs and DVDs, as well as load plain and photo paper simultaneously, so you are always ready to print.

The printer supports both wireless and wired network printing, allowing for convenient printing from any device connected to the same network. It’s also compatible with AirPrint and Google Cloud Print for easy printing from mobile devices.

Pros:

High-resolution printing: This ensures crisp and vibrant prints every time.

Broad media handling: Handles cardstock with ease.

Cons:

Slow print speed: It might not be the best choice for high-volume printing.

Large footprint: Requires ample desk space.

Brother HL-L6400

Best Monochrome

Why it made the list: A laser printer that surprisingly handles cardstock very well, the HL-L6400DW is designed for speed, delivering up to 52 pages per minute. This makes it an excellent choice for busy environments where time efficiency is critical.

With a print resolution of up to 1200 x 1200 dpi, you can count on sharp, professional-quality text and graphics on every page. And the Brother HL-L6400 also has a max paper weight of 134 lb (200 gsm). 

This printer is equipped with a range of security features, such as an integrated NFC card reader for secure badge authentication and Active Directory support for network user authentication. These are valuable inclusions for businesses concerned with document and network security.

The HL-L6400DW features a standard paper capacity of 570 sheets, expandable to 1,610 sheets with optional add-on trays. This reduces the frequency of paper refills, especially during large print jobs.

It offers flexible connectivity options, including built-in wireless 802.11b/g/n and Gigabit Ethernet network interfaces, which allow you to share the printer with multiple users on your network.

With optional super high-yield 20,000-page replacement toner cartridges, this printer offers a low cost per page, making it an economical choice for businesses looking to reduce their running costs.

Pros:

High-speed printing: Can manage high-volume printing tasks efficiently.

Paper capacity: Large paper trays reduce the frequency of refills.

Cons:

Monochrome: It only prints in black and white.

Cost: The initial cost is higher than other printers on this list.

Epson EcoTank ET-8550

Why it made the list: The EcoTank ET-8550 stands out for its low running costs and superior photo print quality. It can comfortably handle heavy cardstock. 

The Epson ET-8550 is a powerhouse packed with features that make it a worthwhile investment. With its EcoTank feature, the ET-8550 does away with cartridges. It comes with up to 2 years’ worth of ink in the box, which is enough to print up to 6,200 pages in color. This not only saves you money in the long run but also reduces waste.

This printer delivers a wide color gamut for stunning photos with smooth gradations and crisp, sharp text. From standard A4 documents to wide-format prints up to 13″ x 19″, this printer has you covered. This printer accommodates heavy cardstock weights, CDs/DVDs, and other specialty media up to 1.3 mm thick, meaning it can handle a variety of paper types and sizes.

This isn’t just a printer – it’s also a scanner and copier. You can scan or copy documents up to 8.5″ x 11.7″ with the flatbed scanner, providing all the functionalities you need in one device.

The ET-8550 supports wireless printing, and you can easily print from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. It also features voice-activated printing and is compatible with popular cloud printing services, making it a breeze to print anything, anytime.

This printer delivers excellent print speeds of up to 16 ISO ppm (black) and 12 ISO ppm (color). It can handle large print jobs quickly, helping you save time without sacrificing print quality.

Pros:

Cartridge-free printing: Lowers the cost-per-print in the long run.

Excellent photo quality: This makes it ideal for creative projects on cardstock.

Cons:

Initial cost: Although the cost-per-print is low, the initial purchase price is high.

Print speed: Not the fastest printer on the market.

Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000

Why it made the list: The XP-15000’s high-quality photo prints and ability to handle up to 110 lb (300gsm) cardstock make it ideal for creative professionals and hobbyists.   This printer provides a wide color gamut and smooth gradations for impressive, ultra-realistic images. Whether you’re printing vibrant landscapes or detailed portraits, the results are sure to be stunning.

Despite its wide-format capabilities, this printer has a surprisingly small footprint. It’s been designed to fit on your desk without consuming too much space, an attribute not common with many wide-format printers.

Offering versatile paper handling with a 200-sheet front tray and 50-sheet rear specialty tray, this printer is designed for ease of use. Additionally, it features wireless connectivity and mobile printing, so you can print from your smartphone or tablet with or without a network.

The XP-15000 delivers prints quickly, reaching speeds of 9.2 ISO ppm (black) and 9.0 ISO ppm (color). This speed doesn’t compromise on quality, ensuring you get top-tier results in less time.

Pros:

High-quality photo printing: Prints stunning, high-definition photos.

Compact size: It’s relatively smaller than other photo printers, saving desk space.

Cons:

Ink costs: The cost of ink replacement can add up over time.

No all-in-one functionality: It’s a dedicated photo printer without scanning or faxing capabilities.

HP OfficeJet Pro 9015

Why it made the list: This is an all-around great printer with a good balance of speed, quality, and features. It can handle cardstock up to 110 lb (300 gsm) without any issues. This was aptly named Best All-in-One Printer by Wirecutter in March 2021. Featuring an automatic 2-sided print, scan, and copy, this printer can also print up to 22 black / 18 color pages per minute. This printer also works fast with a 35-page Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) and has borderless printing that prints right to the edge of your paper.

Pros:

All-in-One: Offers scanning, copying, and faxing capabilities, in addition to printing.

Speed: Prints quickly without sacrificing quality.

Cons:

Running costs: The cost of ink cartridges can be high over time.

Bulky: It’s quite large and requires a good amount of space.

In Summary

Remember, when it comes to printing on heavy cardstock, not all printers are created equal. Your choice will depend on your specific needs, whether it’s the vibrant color output of an inkjet or the quick, high-volume capabilities of a laser printer.

Each printer on this list offers unique features and capabilities, but they all handle heavyweight cardstock with ease. It’s crucial to choose one that best fits your specific needs and budget.

FAQs

Which printer is best for heavyweight cardstock?

This will depend on your specific needs, but our top pick is the Canon PIXMA PRO-200.

Is inkjet or laser better for cardstock?

Typically, inkjet printers are better equipped to handle cardstock due to their ability to handle a wider range of materials and deliver high-quality color prints.

Do you need a specific printer for cardstock?

Yes, you need a printer capable of handling the thickness and weight of cardstock.

What is GSM?

GSM stands for grams per square meter, a measurement of paper density. Higher GSM numbers indicate a heavier and thicker paper.

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