Water-resistant and fade-resistant. Dries quickly. Acid-free and non-toxic. Ditch your Sharpies (which are not archival) and start using one of these. I’m particularly fond of the Micron 005 Ink Pen, Black for signing prints as it works great on microporous inkjet surfaces that pencils don’t work on.

The i1PublishPro3 package is the modern “Swiss Army Knife” spectrophotometer that calibrates displays, all types of printers, takes spot measurements, etc. It does it all and it’s a substantial improvement over the 10+ year old i1Pro2 device. Color nerds working with textured surfaces like canvas might also be interested in the larger aperture, polarization capable i1Pro3Plus device. Check out our reviews of the standard aperture i1Pro3 and the large aperture i1Pro3Plus.

It’s worth noting that the Onsight remote profiling service is a cost effective way to get excellent printer profiles for those that simply need a few printer profiles every now and then. Email to find out more about the remote profiling service (for clients only).

Visit the Display Recommendation Thoughts post for discussion on this topic.

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Although they are not the most affordable displays on the market, I’ve come to really appreciate Apple’s current lineup of displays for their quality, features and elegance. The new 27” Studio Display with the tilt and height adjustable stand and nano-texture glass is fantastic while the 32” Pro Display XDR is insanely gorgeous for those with the budget.

This ~$279 32” LG 32QN600-B display really stands out as an excellent, affordable option. It’s only 2560×1440 pixel resolution but has a matte surface, dual HDMI input, a wide viewing angle and looks great when calibrated.  The LG 32UP83A Monitor is the same size but at higher resolution (3840×2160) (4k) for  ~$550. Both are great choices to run on PC’s or the new Apple Silicon Macs.

A client recently hired me to evaluate all the letter sized desktop color laser printers on the market from the likes of Canon, HP, Xerox, Brother, Lexmart, OKI, etc.  I was quite surprised that a) the print quality was atrocious on almost all of them, b) most don’t support color management with ICC profiles and c) HP’s Color Laserjet Pro’s were the clear and obvious print quality winners. One can make great RGB printer profiles for them using the printer driver with the default settings. While there are many to choose from, we found the letter sized HP Laserjet Pro 477fdw and the tabloid sized LaserJet Pro CP5225dn to be excellent choices.

In my opinion, Epson (and others) made a mistake not including the ink tank stirring mechanism in all ink tanks. Dyesub color inks settle and this settling is common cause of print quality inconsistency. I recommend using these conveniently color coded CMYK turkey basters to mix up all four inks on a weekly basis. Stirring the inks once weekly is an affordable prevention method that will ensure print quality consistency over time. Another way to avoid this is to only fill the tanks for one week’s usage at a time.

These affordable 10x and 30x self illuminating loupes are excellent for examining nozzle checks, manual head alignment printouts, and other fine details. The UV blacklights make viewing Yellow nozzle and lines as easy as viewing black ink lines in regular light. A must have for any digital printmaker.

Silicone rollers are the best way to clean panels prior to sublimation. Silicone rollers should be used with sticky matts (option2) for cleaning between applications. Rollers can also be used to clean acrylic and some artworks directly. Another alternative is the GMP silicone roller, sticky matt and tray combination (choose “12 Inch Roller, 50 Clean-Up Sheets (PCR12)”).

Maxiflex 34-874 Ultimate Nitrile Grip gloves are a favorite in the dyesub community for their incredibly comfortable fit. They only offer minor heat protection however, so quick handling of hot products is required. Consider the Ansell gloves for extended handling of hot dyesub products.

Most heat resistant gloves are bulky, heavy and not fun to wear. Ansell Crusader Flex Heat Resistant gloves are the most comfortable, lightest weight oven mitt gloves I’ve seen, and they’re nice to handle hot dyesub products with. These are also popular in metal fabrication shops and in commercial kitchens as oven mitts.

OWC’s ThunderBay RAID products are the best bang-for-the-buck RAID enclosures these days. The $350 2 drive enclosure$479 4 bay enclosure and $649 6 bay enclosure come without drives. Purchasing drives serpately and installing them yourself is easy and usually more cost effective than purchasing with preinstalled drives. Both of these drive enclosures come with two Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports and are preconfigured for RAID5 and include SoftRAID v5 software. See my RAID review for real world performance results and comparisons to other systems.

Seagate IronWolf Internal Hard Drives for NAS/RAID are a great value right now. Available in capacities from 1 to 16 TB each, they are a great value at ~$0.03 per gigabyte. As someone who is sensitive to noise, I can tell you these drives are not only a good value, they are also very quiet.

For those that don’t need a RAID, the $40 Vantec NexStar Gx Enclosure is excellent because it has an aluminum case, USB-C ports and supports USB 3.1 gen2 data speeds (as opposed to the more common and slower USB 3.0).  Seagate EXOS hard drives are great for single drive enclosures like this because they are affordable, fast and have low failure rates. With todays 16+TB drives, some people don’t need a RAID anymore.

Seems like every creative professional carries a small SSD around with them these days for special projects. SanDisks newest generation Extreme PRO portable SSD drive now reads and writes up to 2000MB per second. 2TB for $300 at these speeds is pretty sweet.

I keep handful of inexpensive USB flash drives so I can transfer files with other computers or simply give files to clients. Lexar makes this attractive, fast, $12 64GB flash drive with both USB-A and USB-C ports.

For those that are wanting modern, energy efficient bulbs for print exhibition, Philips Par20 Classic Glass Flood LED Bulbs and Philips Par 30 ExpertColor LED Bulbs stand out as an excellent options for screw-in E26 fixtures. Like incandescent flood lights, they have a narrow focus that puts a nice warm hot spot on your print on the wall. There are other sizes and versions of these bulbs – I recommend using the 3000K versions for residential and 4000K versions for commercial environments.

The MX Keys for Mac is a favorite Mac Keyboard for all the right reasons. It’s sturdy, the keys are quiet and feel great, it has full size arrow keys and a numeric pad. Can be operated wirelessly or left plugged in.

The $72 MX Anywhere 3 is IMO the best mouse out there. It feels really great, nice weight, not too small nor too big, has precise movement, a precise and dynamic scroll wheel and recharges via USB-C. At half the price, the $40 M650 is also a nice, simple, two button mouse powered by a single AA battery. Right and left handed versions available. Both of them connect via Bluetooth, or if you prefer to go old school, the USB dongle is also included. I have one of each. So simple and nice.  I don’t know why Apple can’t get this right.

ImageNest is fantastic nesting and layout software now priced at $200 for all printer sizes. If you are a nesting or a volume printing geek – this is your application! MacOS  only.

Every print room needs a *really* good pair of shears like Wiss 10″ shears.

These affordable 10x and 30x self illuminating loupes are excellent for examining nozzle checks, manual head alignment printouts, and other fine details. The UV blacklights make viewing Yellow nozzle and lines as easy as viewing black ink lines in regular light. A must have for any digital printmaker.

Industrial air humidification systems keep dust down and keep printers healthy in print rooms.