How to choose an edible printer:
It has been a while since I have posted this information and with all the advancements lately, I thought I would republish. Many people have been asking questions revolving around this issue so I thought it would be helpful. While I own Icing Images, I am biased, but I am also honest. The information contained herein is based upon my experience and knowledge. I built my business based on quality products and quality service so in that light, let me begin.
To buyor not:
First, if you are not going to use your printer about once per week, dont get one. It will not be a worthwhile investment. Many companies offer edible printing and will ship the images to you. We do, but there are other companies out there that do it as well. EBay is loaded with them. We will be glad to refer you to someone in your area, just email us and we can find someone for you.
If you are one of those decorators that feel you have the need for one, but you are not quite printing once per week, there are many ways to use your printer to increase business, accent cakes or you can just print something on regular paper once per week until your business grows.
Choosing your printer:
Canon vs. Epson: We prefer and sell only Canon printers. We prefer Canon because it has a removable print head. The largest problem associated with edible printing is print head clogs. While developments in ink have decreased this problem, when you put edible ink in a print head, it does not contain the toxic additives that regular inks have to reduce this problem. But, again, developments in our inks have reduced this problem dramatically. If you do get a clog in a printer, and you cannot get it out using the methods available within the printer itself, you have to clean the print head manually. You cannot do this with an Epson as the print head does not come out. THIS IS THE MAIN REASON WE CHOOSE CANON. You can remove the Canon print head and manually clean it or even replace it.
A common question is, Can I purchase a printer off the shelf? Yes, you canhowever; it must be compatible with edible inks. It must ONLY be used with edible inks. So people then wonder, Why would I purchase a printer from a specialty company? Peace of mind. Different companies offer different packages, but ours includes a warranty. While you will find if you call our office, you will always get help no matter whose product you have, we can only warranty our products and printers. Canon will give you a hard time if you have a problem with the printer and while legally you are allowed to use edible inks in their printers, they will make it difficult. Plus, they do not have the expertise to deal with edible inks.
Which Canon printer?
There are several options. Always makes sure that your printer is compatible if you do not buy it from an edible printing company. All the Canon printers work with PC or Mac.
1. There are standard printers that print up to 8.5x13.75 sheets and must be attached to your computer. You would use your own scanner or memory disk in your computer. Then you would just print the picturejust like printing regular printers.
2. There are printer/scanner combos or standalone systems. Which are just that, you can scan and print directly on the icing sheet without manipulation or you can scan in to your computer, manipulate the pictureor not and then print. These printers print up to 8.5x11 when they are not interfaced with a computer or 8.5x13.75 when interfaced with your PC or Mac.
3. There are New Canon wide format printers which print the 11.75x16.75 icing sheets! They must be hooked to your computer.
Choosing your ink:
Several years ago, we came out with a sponge free cartridge. We found this to be an amazing development in edible printing for many reasons.
1. No sponge. The sponge in the cartridge can collect bacteria. So ink manufacturers would put alcohol in the ink to prevent the growth. Alcohol was found to burn out print heads prematurely. No SpongeNo alcoholreduced print head burnout.
2. More ink. The sponge takes up about 2/3s of the physical space in the cartridge. Take out the sponge, increase the ink. Tests that I have personally run have shown that we were able to get about 20 more prints before the color runs out!
3. Easily and cleanly refill directly in the printer. Refilling is cost effective..but not guaranteed. It is not for everyone. But it saves a lot of money. While it is easy to do, you must follow the instructions. Since the sponge free cartridges are refilled directly in the printer, the mess is minimal!
4. Food grade cartridge. The sponge free cartridge is made of food grade plastics.
5. Kosher, FDA Compliant & made in the US!
Choosing your icing sheet:
There are several different brands available. I will discuss all that I have personally handled. We sell three different types of icing sheets because people swear by all of them! What is an icing sheet? An icing sheet or frosting sheet is made of sugar and it merges in to the icing. While it merges, it does not become the icing. You will find that there are also potato based papers and rice or wafer papers which are made out of potato and rice. These are a bit thicker and chewier and people will generally peal them off before eating. There are also chocolate transfer sheets which are used exclusively with chocolates and candy.
1. Our house brand: is a thinner icing sheet and they have a margin around them of about a half of an inch giving them a printable area of approximately 7.5x10 give or take. Because our house brand is the thinnest it will be the most likely to crack or fall off the backing in dry weather. Transversely, in high humidity, it will also be harder to remove. Our house brand is very similar to all other brands available by other manufacturers except Lucks and our Premium brand. This style was one of the first types to be available but it is the least popular of all brands we sell.
2. Lucks: our second most popular brand we sell. It is the same icing sheet that you see in the stores on the preprinted sheets. These are a very good choice, we have sold it for years and it has the 7.5x10 printable area.
3. Premium: This is by far our most popular icing sheet and the newest to the world of icing sheets. At shows, if I want to convince someone to switch, all I have to do is put it in their hand. Usually when I hand it to them it has been sitting out of its package all day. They are able to bend it and flex it and roll it and it stays intact. It has the largest printable area of 8.5x10.75, tastes great and features our easy peal backing. It has been featured by many decorators such as Julie Bashore as holding up to all types of sugar art including isomalt. They come in many different sizes and in precut circles and squares. Because of their flexibility, they have become very popular in the electronic cutting arena and by popular demand we now have them available in colored sheets as well! As you can tell, I am partial to them. They are also the only icing sheet that works with our iiPrint and iiDesign software which I will discuss next.
Good news! You can use any software you want to print the standard size sheets. Remember, edible printing is simple. It is just like printing regular pictures except you are using edible inks. So if you carry that over to your software, you can use whatever you already have and know. Some printers actually have scanners built in so you can scan and print directly. BUT, there is always a but; if you want to print the multiple up icing sheets you need to connect the printer to your computer. Most companies offer software to help you match up the multiple up sheets. A multiple up sheet is a sheet that has for example, 15 - 2 circles that are precut. The software assists with placement of the circles on the icing sheet. Kopykake offers a free program if you buy their sheets and you will enter codes in. There is a company called Deco out of the UK that does the same type of program. Lucks, I think have references to Adobe. We offer free web based software. It is called iiPrint and allows you to print on our entire selection premium icing sheets. (check out the iiDesign feature of the iiPrint software). There are also companies such as Bakery Crafts and Deco Pak that sell systems, but those are exclusively for Bakeries that want to print the copy written images.
Choosing your edible printing supply company:
The elements you want to consider are quality of products and quality of service. Do your research. Visit the forums and see what people are saying. If you are confident with the products a company sells, call them. Talk to them. Consider the knowledge they have, their desire to help you make the right decisions, not just sell you product. While it is their business to make the sale, they should be putting your needs first, not theirs. Nothing frustrates me more then when I talk to a customer who recently purchased a printer and either should not have even bought it, should have bought something different or they were sold more than they needed.
I hope this information is helpful to you. I will always be glad to answer questions for you to the best of my abilities. Feel free to PM me or call my office any time at 888-442-4648 and we will be glad to assist you. I love my employees and feel they do a terrific job in keeping with my high expectations. If you do speak with them, tell them I said that!! It makes them feel good and they deserve it!
Great advice!! Thank you for sharing!!
Bob... I have to say you got a great screen name!
Thanks so much this was very helpful info
Glad to help! I will be glad to answer any questions you may have!
I know i am going to get one sometime this year and when I do, I will be buying it from you, as long as you send to Canada!
We do ship to Canada and we will hopefully have the distributor set up there by the time you order! Thank yo uso much
Okay I have a question -- if I don't have an edible printer but would like a picture made for say a cake, can I order just the picture icing image? Or do I have to get the entire setup?
Bob...you dont have a system???? Yes, you can order the image from us directly. That was the way our business was formed over 12 years ago...just doing images!!! We still do them...always will!
I know I know!! All the high-ticket items and I don't have the system!! I just recently got into using icing images, so until I get a whole lot better at it, I'm not investing. I'm glad to hear I can order from you directly -- I have a few ideas I'd like to try!
ok..mr. wonderbuns!!! you only want to invest when you get to the point of printing about once per week to make it worthwhile!
Do you sell Canons other than the two that I see on your website?
We have the two shown on the website in stock now. We will be adding a Gold Label printer system in the next day or so. It is the Canon ip3600, which does not have a scanner and must be used with your computer. It come with 1 pack of Premium small sheets (8.5x11), set of gold label cartridges, usb cable, and printhead cleaner.