One of the beauties of matt drafting film is that it can be printed on
with an ordinary inkjet printer. The surface of the film has been treated
so it can accept a wide variety of media including pen, marker pencil
and printer ink.
There are however a few things you should keep in mind when printing
onto this type of film.
Although the surface of the drafting film accepts ink very well, some
pooling of the ink can occur on the surface of the film if the ink load
is too high. When this happens, you can get some smears of ink on the
film as it comes out of the printer. You can avoid ink pooling by following
a few rules of thumb. Make sure that your artwork is made up of thin lines.
Don't attempt to print large areas of solid black. Print in "Economy
Mode". this will yield lighter but still very visible lines to follow
when cutting the stencil. You will find "economy mode" somewhere
in your printers dialogue box .Vector software such as Corel Draw or Illustrator
are excellent tools for creating suitably thin line work for stencil design.
Avoid placing more than one sheet of film in the printers paper tray
at one time. Sometimes, and with some printers there will be a tendency
for the printer to suck up two sheets of film at a time instead of one.
Dislodging stencil film from a printer is sometimes a hell of a lot harder
than removing jammed paper, believe me.
Although printer ink will dry nicely onto the drafting film, the dry
ink sits on top of the film and the image can still be rubbed off or smeared
with your hand. To avoid rubbing off the image while you are cutting the
stencil, work with the printed side facing down so your hand is rubbing
against the non printed side
I recommend printing the word "UP" somewhere on one corner
of the design so you will know the difference.
Drafting film is a sort of plastic (Polyester) right? and a laser printer
prints by making enough heat to fuse a black powder to the surface of
the film. Heat and plastic are not always compatible.
Your average, run of-the-mill drafting film will buckle when fed through
some domestic laser printers. The problem is,not knowing which printers
will and which won't distort the film.
I have a "Brother" mono laser printer. When I feed film through
my printer it always distorts the film. Not a lot, but enough to make
it unusable. I have tried other brands of printers that don't buckle the
film. It really depends on the make and model of the printer.
Some laser printers have settings that control the fusing temperature
of the printer powder. There is a type of drafting film that is called
PPC film. This type of film has been speacially treated so that it does
not distort when fed through laser printers.
It is in fact made for plan printing. Plan printers are just oversized
laser printers, used for printing house and engineering plans. Unfortunately
you have to hunt around to find a source for PPC film. It isn't readily
available in craft or stationary stores. I have located PPC film at some
architectural copy centers in my locality. If you want this type of drafting
film, you could try looking up "plan printing" in your local
business pages or online.