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How Is Printer Resolution Measured

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After learning about 3D printing resolution and sorting out the differences in technology and outcomes, we hope its much easier to select 3D printer that best matches your workflow and output needs.

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How Dpi Relates To Inkjet Printers

DPI does not correspond directly with PPI because a printer may put down several dots to reproduce one pixel. This is because printers use a limited number of colored inks to reproduce an image consisting of millions of colors. The higher a printer’s DPI, the smoother your printed image will appear, provided you have a suitable amount of image resolution .

Basically the term DPI refers to the resolution of the printing device, where PPI refers to the resolution of the image itself. How can you remember this? Monitors display pixels, and printers produce dots.

Today’s photo-quality ink jet printers have DPI resolution in the thousands . They will give you acceptable quality photo prints of images with 140-200ppi resolution, and high quality prints of images with 200-300ppi resolution. Typically inkjet printers have three standard output settings:- normal: 300 x 300 or 320 x 320 dpi- high quality: 600 x 600 or 720 x 720 dpi, 1440 x 720- photo quality: 1200 x 1200, 1440 x 1440 dpi, 2880 x 1440 and upYou might also have a draft or economy setting for printing text and rough drafts.

Summary: You rarely need your image resolution to be higher than 240-300ppi for inkjet printing.

Measuring Inkjet Print Resolution

Published: 23 April 2014|

As one of the key measures for inkjet print quality, it is important to understand how print resolution helps define the quality of the output in terms of dpi, effective dpi and greyscale. By Philip Easton, director, digital printing solutions at Domino Printing Sciences

Over the past few years, digital inkjet technology has continued to push the boundaries of innovation with a steady stream of technological advances that has given inkjet the same levels of performance, cost effectiveness and efficiency of other digital and more traditional methods of print. As a result, high speed piezo drop on demand inkjet has become the most significant front runner in the digital print sector in recent years, with several companies launching digital inkjet presses offering highly efficient, high quality output.

Fundamentally, the basis of the print quality and productivity achieved from these new inkjet printers is largely determined by the type of printhead that is integrated within the press and with that has emerged a new language to help define the quality of output. Typically, the most common methods of defining output quality relies on dots per inch , effective dpi and greyscale.

Dots per inch


Closely related to dpi in terms of impacting and measuring print quality is the range of droplet size that is used in the printing process. This is often referred to as greyscale capability.

Philip Easton, director

Vertical v horizontal

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The Clients Guide To Images Part : Image Resolution

From time to time, clients will send us a tiny 40K JPEG image for a print layout, or ask us to just grab it off the web. We have to explain that such moves wont work because the image resolution is too low. Lets take a closer look at why that is.

The resolution of an image refers to the density of the pixels that constitute it. At high resolutions, the image is crisp and vividly detailed. If the resolution is decreased or the image is blown up too much, it loses detail and the blocky squares of the pixels become noticeable. Think of how big-screen projection TVs from the 80s used to look so washed-out and fuzzy before HD and Blu-ray came along. Resolution makes all the difference!

Digital Image Resolution Vs Print Resolution

Printer Resolution: How it

Digital resolution and print resolution are two different measurements often used interchangeably, but theyre not equivalent. While print resolution is determined by the number of dots per inch your printer will deposit, digital image resolution focuses on the number of digital pixels your image has per square inch .

Pixels are small squares that make up your picture on a computer screen. These pixels dont translate directly onto paper, and they have no bearing on your printer resolution. Your printer will still deposit the maximum number of droplets if your PPI is low the droplets will just represent a less detailed area.

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Determine A Suggested Resolutionfor An Image

If you plan to print your image using ahalftone screen, the range of suitable image resolutions dependson the screen frequency of your output device. Photoshop can determinea recommended image resolution based on the screen frequency ofyour output device.

If your image resolution is more than2.5 times the screen ruling, an alert message appears when you tryto print the image. This means that the image resolutionis higher than necessary for the printer. Save a copy ofthe file, and then reduce the resolution.

  • Choose Image > ImageSize.
  • For Screen, enter the screen frequency for the outputdevice. If necessary, choose a different unit of measurement. Notethat the screen value is used only to calculate the image resolution,not to set the screen for printing.
  • For Quality, select an option:


    Produces a resolution that is the same as the screenfrequency .


    Produces a resolution 2 times the screen frequency.

  • Change The Print Dimensions Andresolution

    Whencreating an image for print media, its useful to specify imagesize in terms of the printed dimensions and the image resolution.These two measurements, referred to as the document size,determine the total pixel count and therefore the filesize of the image document size also determines the basesize at which an image is placed into another application. You canfurther manipulate the scale of the printed image using the Printcommand however, changes you make using the Print command affectonly the printed image, not the document size of the image file.

    Ifyou turn on resampling for the image, you can change print dimensionsand resolution independently . If you turn off resampling, you can change eitherthe dimensions or the resolutionPhotoshop adjusts the other valueautomatically to preserve the total pixel count. For the highestprint quality, its generally best to change the dimensions andresolution first, without resampling. Then resample only as necessary.

  • Choose Image > Image Size.
  • Change the print dimensions, image resolution, or both:
  • To change only the print dimensions oronly the resolution and adjust the total number of pixels in theimage proportionately, select Resample Image and then choose aninterpolation method.

  • To change the print dimensions and resolution withoutchanging the total number of pixels in the image, deselect ResampleImage.

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    Print Resolution: The Next Step

    As you now know, print resolution doesnt have to be difficult.

    It just involves a little bit of math!

    But, once youre done, youll know how to consistently determine the proper print sizes for your needs.

    Does resolution matter when printing your photos?

    Yes! Resolution is critical when printing your photos. You see, resolution is what determines whether your print will look nice and detailed versus pixelated and, well, ugly. If you get the resolution right, youre far more likely to end up with a result that youre pleased with. Higher-resolution files will produce better prints, generally speaking. But photographers run into problems when they dont have enough resolution for certain printing sizes, but dont realize their limitations thats how you end up with unpleasant prints.

    What is a good resolution for printing?

    Id recommend printing at 300 PPI whenever possible. Thats a pixel density measurement, referring to the number of pixels per inch of your photo. Ultimately, the size of the print you can produce at 300 PPI will vary depending on the size of your original file. There are ways of enlarging your prints , but these never offer perfect quality, so you have to decide whether its worth sacrificing a bit of quality for a bigger print. Note that you can drop below 300 PPI if youre after a print designed to be viewed from a distance, or if youre using certain printing mediums that are as exacting when it comes to pixel density.

    What is PPI versus DPI?

    When Do You Use Ppi

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    Use PPI whenever you are working with digital images. PPI is most useful in preparing files for printing . An image with a higher PPI tends to be higher quality because it has a greater pixel density, but exporting at 300 PPI is generally considered industry standard quality.

    Because increasing the PPI increases the size of your file, you will want to use a high PPI only when necessary. For example, when printing involves many fine details on a glossy surface, its best to consider using a higher resolution. Printing an image on canvas does not require as high a resolution because details get lost in the texture of the material. PPI does not really matter for distribution on the web because the pixel density of your monitor is fixed. A 72 PPI image and a 3,000 PPI image will appear the same on your screen. It is the pixel dimensions that will determine the size and detail of your image.

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    Resolution Does Not Mean Size

    Resolution is a measure of pixel density, not size. That is to say, a poster measuring 2 x 3 meters could have the same DPI as a business card measuring 2 x 3 inches. Remember its dots per inch, so it doesnt relate to the size of the image, or of the dots. As already discussed, a large image can have a really low DPI if its going to be displayed very far away , as the human eye resolves the image hence resolution.

    The optimal DPI for billboards is lower because the viewer usually only sees it from distance

    Nonetheless, size does have a bearing on resolution. Reducing your resolution by half, would mean youd need to double the width and height of your printed image, in order to maintain quality. For example, lets say youre printing a Flyer measuring 5.5 x 8.5 inches at 300DPI. Reducing the resolution to 150DPI would result in the output of an 11 x 17 inch flyer. So make sure you have the right resolution for the size of your print. If you scale down the resolution, you must scale up size correspondingly.

    What Is Print Resolution

    Print resolution measures the maximum number of droplets of ink a printer deposits in one square inch of your final printed image. This measurement is often referred to as dots per inch . If you used a magnifying glass to look at a print, youd see your picture consists of clusters of overlapping droplets that form your image.

    While a higher printer resolution can produce a better quality print, the print resolution does not refer to an images size or digital resolution. Instead, this measurement only determines the ink droplets potential density. You could have two photos with the same number of dots per inch with different sizes and clarities.

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    Sla Vs Fdm 3d Printing

    A lot has changed since the first desktop 3D printers became available to the public. Now stereolithography 3D printers, like the Form 3, are competing for the same desktop spots as fused deposition modeling 3D printers. One of the main advantages that resin-based SLA 3D printers hold over their plastic-melting cousins is print quality: SLA 3D printers produce significantly smoother and more detailed prints. While SLA printers can usually also achieve significantly smaller layer thicknesses, the reason for the improved print quality lies in their much higher XY-resolution.

    Unlike on FDM 3D printers, minimum feature size in the XY plane on SLA 3D printers is not limited by molten plastic flow dynamics but rather optics and radical polymerization kinetics. While the math is complicated , it shakes out to this: features on SLA prints can be approximately as small as the diameter of their laser spots. And laser spots can be really small, especially compared to the nozzle size of FDM printers’ extruders.

    Read our in-depth guide about FDM vs. SLA 3D printers to learn how they compare in terms of print quality, materials, applications, workflow, speed, costs, and more.

    How Ppi Relates To Digital Cameras

    How is the resolution of a printer measured?

    When you’re printing images from a digital camera, you have a fixed number of pixels which is the maximum your camera is able to capture. Today’s lower-priced cameras have an average maximum resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels .

    The following chart shows the maximum print size for digital cameras based on the Megapixels of the camera. Most books and magazines require 300ppi for photo quality. For example, the chart shows that you can make a 5″ x 7″ photo quality print from a 3 Megapixel camera.

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    How Much Dpi Would I Ideally Need

    • You should never opt for a printer lower than 300 DPI resolution.
    • However, the higher, the better.
    • In the case of text documents, 600 DPI is known to be the ideal resolution.
    • If you want crisper pictures, go for a printer with a minimum of 1200 DPI.
    • If youre a professional photographer, you may want to shoot for a 2880 x 1440 DPI printer.
    • Modern printers let you optimize resolution as per your need.

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    How Many Ppi Is Enough

    Every image has the capacity for plenty of different PPI prints.

    For instance, an image thats 900 pixels by 900 pixels could create a 1 inch by 1 inch, 900 PPI image.

    Or it could create a 9 inch by 9 inch, 100 PPI image.

    But if you were to examine these two prints side-by-sidea 900 PPI print and a 100 PPI printyoud notice a clear difference in quality.

    The 100 PPI print would lack detail.

    Whereas the 900 PPI print would look crisp and clear and stunning.

    This is because higher PPI counts result in high-quality prints, and lower PPI counts result in lower-quality prints, all else being equal.

    Anyways, these PPI differences lead photographers to frequently ask:

    How many PPI is enough for a nice print?

    And the answer is:

    It depends. Different types of paper and require more or fewer pixels per inch to look good.

    However, a good rule of thumb is that 300 PPI looks great at close viewing distances, and anything above this doesnt look significantly better .

    In other words:

    300 PPI is perfect, unless you have a particular reason to think that your print needs more or less resolution.

    Bear in mind, however, that 300 PPI is good for close viewing distances.

    But if youre going to make a huge print, people often wont be viewing it from up close.

    In such cases, its often okay to drop the PPI count in order to give yourself more room to print large. Unless people view the print up close, they wont notice much difference.

    Features To Look For In A Printer

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    The four printer qualities of most interest to users are:

    • Color: Most modern printers offer color printing. However, they can also be set to print in black and white. Color printers are more expensive to operate since they use two ink cartridges — one color and one black ink — or toners that need to be replaced after a certain number of pages are printed. Printing ink cartridges or toner cartridges are comprised of black, cyan, magenta and yellow ink. The ink can be mixed together, or it may come in separate monochrome solid ink printer cartridges, depending on the type of printer.
    • Resolution: Printer resolution — the sharpness of text and images on paper — is usually measured in dots per inch . Most inexpensive printers provide sufficient resolution for most purposes at 600 dpi.
    • Speed: If a user does a lot of printing, printing speed is an important feature. Inexpensive printers print only about 3 to 6 sheets per minute. However, faster printing speeds are an option with a more sophisticated, expensive printer.
    • Memory: Most printers come with a small amount of memory — typically 2-16 megabytes– that can be expanded by the user. Having more than the minimum amount of memory is helpful and faster when printing out pages with large images.

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    Web Resolution Vs Print Resolution

    Screen resolution is measured in PPI and print resolution is measured in DPI , though the terms are often used interchangeably. Because the entire viewing area on a computer monitor is made up of pixels of a fixed resolution typically 72 to 100 ppi any image optimized for that resolution looks fully detailed and natural to the human eye.

    But if that same image is printed at full size, its inherent pixel blockiness becomes readily apparent. Another consideration is that the side effects of image compression for smaller web image file sizes can become unsightly.

    High Resolution 3d Printing

    Formlabs’ high resolution SLA 3D printers have high Z-axis resolution and a low minimum feature size on the XY plane, allowing them to produce fine details.

    What makes a 3D printer high resolution? Theres not a one-number answer. Since 3D printers produce parts in 3 dimensions, you will have to consider at least two numbers: the minimum feature size of the XY plane and the Z-axis resolution . The Z-axis resolution is easily determined and therefore widely reported even though it is less related to print quality and surface finish. The more important XY resolution is measured via microscopic imaging and is therefore not always found in spec sheets.

    Practically, it means that you should pick a 3D printer that performs well in both categories .

    Introduction to 3D Printing With Desktop Stereolithography

    Looking for a 3D printer to realize your 3D models in high resolution? Download our white paper to learn how SLA printing works and why it’s the most popular 3D printing process for creating models wth increadible details.

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