Best Printer for Screen Printing Transparencies

It’s important to choose the right printer for your screen printing transparencies. If you can’t afford to have one printer dedicated to producing your films you’ll also have to consider some other features as well. Pages per minute isn’t all that important if you burn a few screens a week.

But if that same printer is also going to be used for invoicing, ordering and printing art proofs you’ll have to consider performance with color, pages per minute, it’s form factor etc. In this article we’ll review 5 excellent choices for inkjet printers that will help you grow your screen printing business.

Why inkjet, why not a laser printer?

Laser printers are great at printing on paper quickly and efficiently. They use a heat element to melt a plastic ink onto the paper. For general business purposes you can’t beat a laser printer. But when you need to print on transparencies, need a completely opaque print and exact precision they just don’t compete with an inkjet.

Can you use transparencies with laser printers? You can. But don’t expect perfection, say Briar Press discussion board contributors. “Laser printers will not print dense enough for work with photopolymer,” and we agree, so your search for the best transparency printer should be limited to inkjets.

What are we ultimately looking for in a good transparency printer?

The goal is achieving a completely opaque film positive, so you wind up with crisp images that retain a high level of detail. Being completely opaque keeps light from bleeding around or through your images when you burn your screens.

You also need to keep the size of prints you do in mind. If you buy a printer that can only print on 8 ½ x 11 inch paper then that’s the maximum size transparency you can print. It’s also the largest you’ll ever be able to make an image on a screen. Most professional screen printers need at least 13 x 19 inch capability. These are often referred to as wide or large format printers.

Pros and cons of owning wide format inkjet printer:

There are plenty of branded ink jet printers ready to handle your output, and it’s important to understand both the advantages and disadvantages that come with your best printer for screen printing transparencies purchase.


-Print quality is better for your purposes when you choose an inkjet over a laser.

-Colors tend to be more vivid when output on inkjets rather than laser printers.

-Inkjets are good at filling large areas with color without banding.

-Opaque prints very good for screen printing.



-While inkjet printers tend to cost less than laser printers, ink replacement makes them pricier to run over time.

-Even the best and most expensive inkjet printers aren’t known for their durability.

-If toner cartridges spoiled you, be prepared to be in a perpetual hunt for smaller ink cartridges.

-Wide format printers are BIG!


5 Great Options For Your Next Transparency Printer

Canon PIXMA IX6820

Top Choice On a Budget

CANON PIXMA iX6820 Wireless Business Printer with...
705 Reviews
CANON PIXMA iX6820 Wireless Business Printer with...*
  • OS Compatibility :Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 , Windows 7 SP1, Windows Vista SP1, Vista SP2, Windows XP SP3 32-bit13 . Mac compatibility : Mac OS X v10.6.8 - v10.913
  • Utilizes Air Print, Google Cloud Print and PIXMA Printing Solutions (PPS)
  • FINE print head technology (Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering)
  • High performance 5 individual ink-tank system
  • 9600 x 2400 dpi maximum print resolution. Print Resolution (Up to): black:600 x 600 dpi, number of nozzles: color: 4,096, black: 1,024, total: 5,120

Last update on 2019-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re on a budget but still want to be able to print in a wide format the Pixma IX6820 is a good choice. And not just because the price tag is low. The PIXMA also happens to be one of the most highly-rated printers on the market.

Capable of 9600x2400 DPI and able to print up to 13x19 means this things is a great bargain. It doesn’t provide any other functions like scanning or copying but it is a great low priced option that still allows you to print in a larger format.


-Comes with an extended 1-year warranty and affordable price tag.

-Wireless operation gives you options on where to place your printer.

-The black cartridge ink tank is extra-large for fewer refills.


-The larger cabinet may not work well in your small production space.

-Owners have complained about output speed and software glitches.

HP DesignJet T120 Large-Format Inkjet Printer

Top Overall Pick

HP Designjet t120 24' ePrinter
6 Reviews
HP Designjet t120 24" ePrinter*
  • HP Design jet T120 24" printer wide format color plotter
  • HP T120 Wide format color printer
  • design jet t120 printer
  • 24" Design jet plotter
  • Large format 24" T120 design jet

Last update on 2019-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If money were no object or if my shop was doing a lot of business I’d buy the T120. It has a couple major advantages over the Canon Pixma IX6820. For one it prints 24 inch wide transparencies. That’s the standard size for screen printing frames, so it’s not limited to 13x19.

It’s also capable of using rolls of transparency film rather than sheets. Using rolls will save you lots of money long term. You won’t need to use a whole sheet if you only need a 8 inch long print. You also save a lot on rolls over cut sheets.

You know the manufacturer, but are you aware of the fact that HP makes a large-format inkjet printer that features the wide mouth you need to turn out graphics as wide as 24-inches?

This is another studio quality printer capable of amazing prints. Using the company’s signature thermal inkjet technology, owners of this transparency printer can expect smooth manual sheet and roll feeds and intuitive operation plus a touchscreen LCD readout.

Wi-Fi connectivity is at your fingertips thus you can control transparency production from iOS and Android devices any time you like. What you won’t do with this printer is print anything other than artwork.


-Achieve optimized resolution of 1200 x 1200 dpi for crisp, solid output.

-Get fast processing speed and energy savings thanks to multiple environmental certifications.

-Print head works with a variety of color inks and you can feed media up to 11.8 mil thick.


-This is an industry quality printer, and it comes with a hefty price tag.

-Do you use third party ink cartridges? HP says this printer only works if you use their cartridges.

Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 Inkjet Printer

Expression Photo HD XP-15000 Wireless Color...
148 Reviews
Expression Photo HD XP-15000 Wireless Color...*
  • Professional Ultra HD photo quality - get brilliant borderless prints up to 13" x 19"
  • Individual 6-color Claria Photo HD Ink - includes Red and Gray inks for an ultra wide color gamut and enhanced black-and-white prints
  • Professional projects made easy - features a 50-sheet rear tray for specialty media, including cardstock (1); accommodates a variety of paper finishes and borderless sizes from 4" x 6" to 13" x 19"
  • Ultra compact wide-format A3+ printer - 30 percent smaller than its predecessor (2); easily fits on your desktop
  • Convenient printing features - supports auto 2-sided document printing, with a 200-sheet front tray

Last update on 2019-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Artisan line is one of the top options for small businesses and independent creators and Epson has been creating quality printers for many years.

We’ve selected the Expression Photo HD XP-15000 because while it’s fairly new, it’s amassing a huge fan club. Output is high-def, vibrant and the wide-format (13- x 19-inches) gives you room to churn out horizontal images for t-shirts that won’t wind up under wearer’s arms.

This isn’t a home or business inkjet printer. The Epson XP-15000 is custom made for printing artwork, high quality transparencies and studio quality photos.


-Delivers 5760- x 1440-dpi images that are grain free.

-Has a Claria ink system with 6 individual colors, each of which can be replaced solo when it runs out.

-One company used this printer to make thousands of heat transfers seamlessly in place of an industrial printer.


-Better keep your wallet open; this is expensive.

-Some users have complained of paper jams when using thicker, better quality paper.

Brother Inkjet Printer MFC-J985DW

Brother Inkjet Printer, MFC-J985DW, Duplex...
1,216 Reviews
Brother Inkjet Printer, MFC-J985DW, Duplex...*
  • COST-EFFECTIVE: Brother INKvestment cartridges printing for less than one cent per page for black and white and less than five cents per page in color. Color ISO-Based Max Print Speed : 10 ppm
  • BUSINESS CAPABLE: Automatic duplex two-sided printing, up to 20-sheet ADF, and connectivity to desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and tablets
  • WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY: Print and scan documents from virtually any location with Wi-Fi connectivity with the assistance of Wi-Fi Direct
  • AMAZON DASH REPLENISHMENT ENABLED: Upon activation, Amazon Dash Replenishment measures the toner level and orders more from Amazon when it's low
  • WARRANTY: The Brother MFC-J985DW Printer comes with a two-year limited warranty and free phone, email and chat support for the life of the product

Last update on 2019-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This Brother inkjet printer is another general purpose office machine. That doesn’t mean you get short shrift on technology or features. This machine was designed to be cheap to operate, transparencies only cost about 5 cents each to print.

Processing speed is a respectable 10 per minute and connectivity requires only a Wi-Fi connection. Scan and print other projects using this printer, too.


-Spend less money for more pages using Brother’s unique INKvestment program.

-Get a 2-year limited warranty plus unlimited free phone support.

-Wireless printing options include AirPrint; Google Cloud Print; Brother iPrint&Scan.


-If you expect to output wide graphics, this machine may not be your best bet.

-Not connected to a wireless network? This printer won’t work for you.

HP ENVY 4520 Wireless Printer

HP Envy 4520 Wireless All-in-One Photo Printer...
5,578 Reviews
HP Envy 4520 Wireless All-in-One Photo Printer...*
  • Main functions of this HP color inkjet photo printer: copy, scan, wireless printing, AirPrint, two-sided duplex printing, touchscreen, Instant Ink ready so you'll never run out of ink, and more
  • Mobile printing: print from anywhere using your smartphone or tablet with the free HP ePrint app, easily print from your iPhone with AirPrint, print even without a network using Wireless Direct printing
  • Borderless photos are printed right to the edge of the paper. You get beautiful photo prints with no trimming!
  • 2-sided printing: Allows you to print on both sides of the page, cutting your paper use by up to 50%
  • Save up to 50% on ink with HP Instant Ink: ordered by your printer and delivered to your door before you run out (optional subscription required). Use Original HP 63 ink cartridges to print up to 2x the pages as refilled cartridges

Last update on 2019-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The HP Envy 4520 is another all-in-one option if you need good print quality but can’t justify dedicating a machine to just printing transparencies.

The Envy even interfaces with Alexa. It’s simple and cheap to run and the print quality is great for screen printing transparencies.

It’s not a wide format printer but is very capable and should be able to handle anything your business needs.


-Simple set-up and easy connectivity to a smartphone or tablet.

-Gets extremely high performance remarks from consumers and reviewers.

-Save money on both the machine and ink cartridges.


-Sells out fast, so if you see and want this Envy, grab it.

-You may not want to get involved with the ink replenishment program.

And the winner is….


If saving money is your main objective when you launch your search for a printer capable of handling your screening projects, both the Brother Inkjet and HP Envy (the least expensive of all) should be your first considerations when you shop.

At the other end of the continuum, we are impressed by both the Epson Expression and HP DesignJet because these two are as close to professional as one can get without going commercial. Prices are hefty and within the same ballpark, but the ability to output wide, solid art can’t be dismissed. If you’re willing to write the check, choose either of these and you’ll be a happy screener.

Our top pick is the Canon Pixma iX6820. The print quality and ability to print on wide formats makes it a perfect option for screen printing negatives. It’s also really simple to use.

Last update on 2019-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API