What Is Cartridge Paper? Why Use It?
By Simon Williams - 30th Oct 2023

At CartridgesDirect, we deal with a great assortment of printer paper types, ranging from matte and glossy photo paper to adhesive label paper and even specialist papers and materials for sublimation printers. However, we are often asked ''what is cartridge paper?'' and ''how is cartridge paper different from normal paper'?' by our customers.

As a printer paper type that is not usually spoken about, you will most likely be new to the phrase cartridge paper also. However, that is not to say that cartridge paper is not of any value. In fact, you might be pleasantly surprised by how often you find yourself using cartridge paper on a routine basis. For example, we bet you never knew that cartridge paper is the most common paper type to be used in sketch pads and artists notebooks?

Cartridge paper is also commonly found in flip books used by animators too!

In essence, cartridge paper is well known for being a thick, textured, high-quality paper type that’s used by artists working in a range of mediums. As it’s most likely to be used by visual artists and designers or concept artists, cartridge paper is also often referred to as ‘drawing paper’, but there are other valuable uses for cartridge paper.

Of which, in today's article, we will be exploring some of these uses. Scroll down to find out all there is to know about cartridge paper and how you can experiment with this innovative paper type.

What is cartridge paper used for?

As we mentioned earlier, cartridge paper is most commonly used in the production of paper-based visual arts. The unique, grainy texture of this paper type makes it an ideal surface for a wide variety of pigments, including charcoal, lead, watercolours, calligraphy inks, and oil paints amongst others. In a lot of ways, cartridge paper has come to be viewed as a highly convenient alternative to the traditional easel and canvas.

While you won't find cartridge paper inside laser printers, you will certainly find this paper at your nearest art studio or creative rooms. Alongside being heavily utilised by artists, illustrators, and animators, cartridge paper may also find its way into creative agencies, like architecture firms, interior design agencies, and software development companies to name a few.

The reason for this is that cartridge paper can be quite useful for easy sketching and drafting, meaning that concept artwork like floor plans or design layouts can be mapped out and erased over and over with minimal concerns of the paper growing weak with excess handling. As well as being used for sketching and design purposes, cartridge paper is also often used as a presentation paper and in the production of posters and pamphlets of varying sizes. We’ll be looking at this particular use in-depth a little later on, however.

What GSM is cartridge paper?

As this paper type has been developed for heavy-duty work in studio spaces and on workbenches, and generally has a higher surface area than traditional printer paper (due to its heightened texture) cartridge paper generally has a higher GSM (or grams per square meter) than a lot of other paper types. It’s common for cartridge paper to be at least 100gsm, however, most sketchbooks and drawing pads will be fitted with cartridge paper that’s at least 130gsm or even a thicker 160gsm. Our thickest cartridge paper here at CartridgesDirect is Epson’s Matte Heavyweight 167gsm, which is a perfect texture and thickness to produce high-quality promotional posters, signs, or any other form of notice you’d like to hang up in your home or office space for a prolonged period of time.

To understand just how thick 160gsm can be, all you have to do is consider the fact that traditional printer paper averages at around 70-80gsm, meaning cartridge paper at its minimum thickness is already 25% thicker than traditional printer paper. At its maximum thickness, however, cartridge paper can be over double the thickness and weight of the paper in your printer.

You can buy cartridge paper by the ream to secure a gsm that works for you and your wider home, office, or studio space.

Can you print on cartridge paper?

And now to answer the question that all you avid printer users may be eagerly awaiting an answer to: can you print on cartridge paper? Considering how thick cartridge paper can be, you may very well be thinking that this paper type won’t meld well with your home or office printer. You may be surprised to hear, however, that many printer models are perfectly capable of printing on cartridge paper with minimal fuss. The heightened texture of cartridge paper can actually provide printer users with an impressively high-quality print job that looks and feels superb

As we stated earlier, cartridge paper is also very commonly used in the production of posters, signs, and pamphlets. In fact, many A3 printers and photo printers have special print configurations designed just for cartridge paper and other thicker paper types like photo paper and cardstock.

Of course, if you’re looking to print pamphlets or brochures, you’ll want to opt for a cartridge paper with a weight of around 110-125gsm, as anything nearing 150gsm may be cumbersome to fold.

Getting started with cartridge paper

If you would like to get started with printing on cartridge paper, all you need to do is dig up your printers user manual, or flip through your printer menu in order to find your printer mode’s dedicated print mode for heavier paper. This can most likely be found in the ‘Print Settings’ or ‘Print Dialog’ tabs of your printer’s user menu. From these tabs, simply search for a ‘Paper Type’ window and select the paper you would like to print with as it’s listed, or an approximate estimate of its gsm as provided.

No matter whether you are mapping out a designer home, printing pamphlets for your small business, working within one creative medium or producing mixed media artwork, creating with cartridge paper can be a highly satisfying experience accompanied by its own unique rewards and learning opportunities. Whatever you do, do not be afraid to experiment throughout your experiences and try a wide selection of different paper types and weights along the way!

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