What initially made wide-format inkjet printers so versatile were the coatings that media manufacturers applied to the printable and back surfaces of different types of paper, film, vinyl, and canvas. These coatings controlled how quickly the dots of ink spread on the media and kept the substrate from "cockling" when heavy amounts of water-based inks were applied. (Cockling is that unsightly wrinkling that occurs when you attempt to output a photo from your digital camera on the same inkjet paper you use for printing documents.) The extra step of adding coatings to the surface and backs of materials increases the manufacturing and selling costs of inkjet media.
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