Us crafters use printers for lots of different reasons. Printing photographs and mounting them on a card blank is one of the easiest and quickest ways to make cards. We print out sentiments, digi stamps, printables and colouring pages. We print out artwork for our craft areas and print templates so that we don’t need to figure out how to make the 3D models ourselves. We print invitations, tags for presents, inserts for cards and step-by-step instructions for when we don’t want to look at a screen. We print stencils for lino-cutting, screen-printing and painting, and we print pictures that we transfer onto wood. We print limited edition artwork for our Etsy shops, business cards, stickers and even print out designs that can be used with foiling machines. We print mood boards and inspiration for future art projects.
Many places, including here at Gathered, have lots of free resources for you to print at home and get creative with. It’s incredibly useful having a stash of digital patterned papers, that you can print out at any time without having to make a fully masked, socially distant visit to the shops.
It’s safe to say that having a good printer is essential for the small business owner, and for crafters, makes things a lot easier. The first thing you need to consider is what you will use your printer for. Perhaps, like me, you’ll use it for a bit of everything, or specifically, perhaps you want to know the best printer for 300gsm card? Maybe you’re looking for a greeting card printer or good all-rounder and the best printer for cardstock. Maybe you’re after a small craft printer that can print photographs for your scrapbook pages? Whatever the reason, we’ve got you covered. And if you’re after some free projects, check out our selection of 20 of the best printables for papercrafting.
Can you print on card on a normal printer?
Not always! If your printer tray is underneath where the paper comes out, then the card will need to feed through the rollers, and the card will need to bend almost in half to get through the printer mechanism. This means that the printer rollers will need to grip onto the card firmly so that it doesn’t slip. The excess pressure caused by the thicker weight card means that a lot of printers just can’t do this.
To get around this, some printers have a second feed at the back. This is often just a flap that can be folded down, where you can manually feed the card through, one sheet at a time. Having this second feed at the back of the printer means the card does not need to bend in half to get around the rollers, and therefore can be gripped better by the printer mechanism.
Most printers can handle lightweight card, up to around 125gsm, but if you want to print on thicker cardstock then you might want to consider looking at the best printer for cardstock.
What to look for in a craft printer
There are a few key factors to consider when you are choosing the printer that is right for you:
Do you want to print on card?
Do you want to print on photo paper?
Do you want it to print A4 or A3?
How much space do you have?
Do you want to use it for hot foiling?
How expensive is the ink?
How much can you print before needing to replace the ink?
Does the machine take off-brand substitutes?
Do you need a scanner?
Do you need wireless connectivity?
What to look for in a cardstock printer
A lot of print manufactures will proudly tell you how fast their printer can print. And that’s great if you need to print a lot and are up against the clock. But what is the best printer for cardstock? This is quite often overlooked in product descriptions and it can be frustrating to find that your brand new printer will only print on 90gsm paper.
Speaking from experience as an artist and designer, I am far less interested in how many pages a printer can spew out in a minute (and let’s face it, they’re all pretty fast these days) than I am the quality of the print, and what type of card it can print on. The last thing I want to be doing is backing all my designs onto card using a Pritt Stick. It may seem obvious, but the main thing you want to look for (aside from budget) is whether or not it can it print on cardstock. If you do a lot of hand-drawn art that you want to scan in (and perhaps sell as prints for a side hustle), then you’ll also want one that has a scanner.
Next, you will want to think about paper size. Are you happy with A4 or would you prefer something that can print 12×12″ for scrapbooking? If it’s the latter, then you will want an A3 printer. Not sure about paper sizes? Take a look at our simple explanation of the basic card sizes.
If you know you have a big project involving a lot of printing (for example, wedding invitations), then you might want to think about tray capacity. How many sheets can the printer hold? It’s not the end of the world if it’s only got a small capacity, you’ll just need to refill it more often.
Technology has advanced a lot since the turn of the millennium, and printers are no different. Many now offer wireless connectivity and automatic software updates as well as computer-free printing via smartphone and USB connectivity. If you have a new mac without the USB ports or are planning to use it with a tablet or smartphone, then a wireless printer is the way to go (or you’ll need to get a USB adaptor).
Print quality and ink is a big one. 300dpi (dots per inch) at 2480 x 3508 pixels is the recommended print resolution for printing on A4, so you will want a printer that can handle this. If you’re looking at A3 printers, then at 300dpi again (remember, its dots per inch so you do not need to double this to 600dpi when printing at A3) you’ll want a printer that can handle 3508 x 4961 pixels. Ink, of course, is a consumable, so you’ll likely get through many ink cartridges in the printers lifetime. Some printers are only compatible with their own brand of ink, which makes replacing ink expensive, while others are compatible with off-brand substitutes that are just as good.
What type of printer do you need for foiling? If you’re looking at using your printer for use with hot foiling systems, then you’ll want a different printer altogether – a monochrome laserjet. As you’re foiling your designs, you’ll be covering up the ink with foil. So, although you can get colour laserjet printers, I do not recommend them for hot foiling. It’s much more economical to go for a good monochrome (black and white) laserjet printer that prints onto card.
You can not use inkjet printers for foiling, as the ink on your printed page needs to react to the heat of passing through your foiling machine. The ink in inkjet printers is not heat-reactive, so you’ll need one that uses laser printer ink for the foil to stick to. This is why the paper from laserjet printers feels nice and warm when it comes out of the machine!
Best printer for card making
- Canon TS9550 Wireless Crafting Printer
- Epson Workforce WF-7710 Wide-Format Printer
- Canon PIXMA iX6850 Printer
- Canon PIXMA Pro 100S Printer
- HP Envy 6032 All-In-One Wireless Printer
- Brother MFC-J895DW Printer
Best printer for hot foiling
- Brother HL-L2300D Monochrome Laser Printer
- Xerox B215 Laser Printer
- HP LaserJet Pro M404dn Printer
Something a little different
- Brother VC-500W Wireless Design n’ Craft Printer
- Selpic P1 Handheld Printer
- Canon Selphy Square QX10 Printer
- KiiPix Smartphone Printer
Best printer for card making
Canon PIXMA TS9550 Wireless Crafting Printer
The Canon PIXMA TS9550 printer series is often hailed as ‘the crafting printer’, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a borderless printer, printing up to A3 in size, and it’s also a scanner and copier. But what I really love about this printer is its compatibility with 12″ x 12″ papers, which makes it hands down, the best printer for scrapbookers. It’s WiFi-enabled, but you can also print directly from memory cards (there’s a slot in the front for memory cards) or from your smartphone and tablet. It takes cardstock and photo paper up to 300gsm easily and even has built-in patterns for you to create your own patterned paper straight from the machine (you can see this in the image above), and can print double-sided. Although this is an A3 printer, it only has the footprint of an A4 machine, so it’s not going to overwhelm small spaces. This does however mean that the scanner is only A4 size, so keep that in mind if you want to scan artwork larger than A4 size. It takes five ink cartridges, two of which are black (this is welcome as I get through black much quicker than any other colour ink) and it costs around £20 for a replacement pack of all five inks – which is not bad at all. Overall – this is a great choice of printer and my number one printer choice for printing on cardstock.
Epson Workforce WF-7710 Wide-Format Printer
The Epson Workforce WF-7710 is another all-in-one printer and is able to scan, copy, print and fax. It prints slightly larger than A3, up to 13” x 19” double-sided, which is brilliant for scrapbookers. Where this printer differs from the Canon PIXMA TS9550, is that the scanning bed is larger and will take up to 11” x 17”. This also means that the machine’s footprint is larger and so will take up more space, but it is also able to accommodate up to 250 sheets in one go, making high-volume jobs a doddle. It has a rear feed for speciality papers, including photo paper and cardstock up to 256g/m2. You can connect via wired ethernet cable, but it also offers wireless connection and is compatible with smartphones and tablets. It takes Epson’s quick-drying Durabrite Ultra Ink, which is water, smudge and highlighter resistant, making it a good choice for using with digi-stamps or printable colouring pages. The ink is a little on the expensive side, but the XL cartridges deliver up to a whopping 2,200 pages thanks to their high yield.
Canon PIXMA Pro 100S Printer
Another in the Canon PIXMA range, the PIXMA Pro 100S is my top pick for photo enthusiasts, as it prints at professional photo lab quality. Printing up to A3 in size, it’s the best printer for anyone wanting to sell art prints or batch-made greetings cards. It stores up to 150 sheets in the tray, but also has a manual feeder for cardstock up to 350g/m2 (0.6mm) making this a great choice for artists as well as crafters. Another neat feature of this machine is that you can print directly onto discs and it has the option of connecting via wired or wireless methods. It too is compatible with smartphones and tablets. It takes 8 ink cartridges (black, grey, light grey, cyan, photo cyan, magenta, photo magenta and yellow), making this a pricier option, but in terms of photo printing, this printer is top-of-the-range and worth the investment especially if you’re selling your work.
HP Envy 6032 All-In-One Wireless Printer
If you’re looking for something cheap and cheerful, then the HP Envy 6032 is a good place to start. It comes with 5 months instant ink, which although may take a little longer than usual to be delivered given the current situation, is time-saving and gives us one less thing to worry about. Just make sure you take up the offer straight away once you get your machine as the offer has quite a short window (around 7 days from purchase). Instant Ink is HP’s ink delivery service – once you sign up, your machine will automatically reorder when you’re running low and it will be delivered to your door. It should be noted, however, that this machine does not take ink substitutes, it will only work with cartridges that have the original HP electronic circuitry. That said, however – the HP cartridges are not expensive; it takes one colour and one black cartridge at around £10 each and HP also offer a recycling service. The lower price point of the machine means that it doesn’t have an LCD control panel like some of the others, but it still offers an all-in-one machine that prints, scans and copies at A4. Wireless or wired, it is compatible with smartphones and tablets via the HP app, and it can print on cardstock up to 200 g/m2 and photo paper up to 300 g/m2.
Brother MFC-J895DW Printer
The Brother MFC-J895DW Printer is a compact A4 printer, scanner, copier and fax machine all rolled into one. It takes up to 150 sheets of paper in the main tray, but also has a manual feed for speciality papers and cardstock as well as a 20 sheet automatic document feeder. It has wireless connectivity for multiple devices, including smartphones and tablets as well as wired connectivity. You can also print directly from USBs, which is a brilliant feature for crafters (I’m thinking of all those lovely Create & Craft USBs stuffed full of digi papers!). This printer prints on cardstock up to 220g/m2 (grams per metre squared, which is another way to write GSM), as well as glossy paper and photo paper. A rather nice feature of this printer is its compatibility with super high-yield ink cartridges. The LC3213BK/C/Y/M will print approximately 400 A4 pages, while the LC3211BK/C/M/Y will print approximately 200 A4 pages. I always tend to go for the highest yield – who wants to be replacing cartridges every 5 minutes?
Canon PIXMA iX6850 Printer
Print up to A3 at an impressive 9600 x 2400 DPI print resolution with the Canon PIXMA iC6850. Like all the printers in this list, you can choose between wired ethernet connectivity or wireless printing from your computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet. It has a 150-sheet tray capacity and can support photo paper up to 300g/m2. I should note that this printer does not have an SD card or USB slot, so if you’re printing craft papers or templates from USBs, you’ll need to interface with a computer or laptop first. Also – if you want double-sided, or duplex printing you’ll need to do it manually as the machine doesn’t support automatic duplex printing. That said, the print quality is excellent, and given it’s an A3 printer, it takes up a remarkably small footprint.
Best printer for hot foiling
Brother HL-L2300D Monochrome Laser Printer
The Brother HL-L2300D is a compact A4 monochrome (black and white) laser printer with wireless connectivity. It prints quietly so is ideal for the home office of 2020, but crucially for those of us who want the best printer for hot foil – it prints on cardstock of up to 230g/m2. This means that you’ll be able to make high quality hot foil prints that are not going to crumple as easily, preserving your artwork and giving a much more professional finish. It takes one standard toner cartridge, black ink, that costs around £30 with a page yield of 1200 pages. But it’s important to remember you get a lot more printing from your laser printers than you do inkjets – so one cartridge goes a long way.
Xerox B215 Monochrome Laser Printer
Like we often say, to hoover something – when we really mean vacuum, it’s not unusual to hear someone say they’re going to xerox something when we really mean to photocopy. Founded in 1906, Xerox has had well over a century to establish itself in our language. And so, included in the line-up for best printers for hot foiling, is the Xerox B215 multifunction printer. If you want to do away with computers altogether (I definitely feel like that some days!) and want to create hand-drawn hot foil projects, then all you need do is photocopy your creation with a laser copier like this one, and the copy will be ready to be foiled. This black and white machine prints onto a variety of different media types, including plain paper, heavy weight, cardstock, transparency, envelopes, thick envelopes and more, so you can foil away without worry. And of course, it hooks up to your computer too, via ethernet or wireless if you do want to print out digital designs to use with you hot foil machine. It also scans and faxes as well as all the usual functions you would come to expect from an established brand like Xerox. Toner for this machine costs around £50, with a high page yield of a whopping 3000 prints.
HP LaserJet Pro M404dn Monochrome Printer
The HP LaserJet Pro series has long been the go-to printer for use with hot foil machines. The M404dn is a monochrome (black and white) printer that takes cardstock of up to 200g/m2 in Tray 1, so it’s a good option for using with hot foil systems. Like the inkjet HP printer featured above, this HP LaserJet Pro will only function with genuine HP toner cartridges. But unlike the inkjet, toner for this model is expensive – you’ll need the HP 59A Black Original LaserJet Toner Cartridge, which comes in with an RRP of a cool £112.99 (or £87.48 on Amazon). That said – you do get a page yield of 3000 pages, so – swings and roundabouts?
Something a little different
Brother VC-500W Wireless Design n’ Craft Printer
Take your craft projects to the next level with this super-portable Design ‘n’ Craft colour label printer. The printer works with a free app where you can create and print your own unique designs all in full colour on glossy adhesive paper. Choose from hundreds of icons, frames, filters, fonts and brilliant backgrounds in the free app, or print photos directly from your camera roll. With five different roll widths available, this little gadget is a really versatile product, ideal for card making, journaling, scrapbooking, home decor and, of course, organising all your crafty storage. There’s no ink required as it uses Zero Ink (or ZINK) technology, where the ink is included within the rolls, so you can avoid having to buy and change ink cartridges. The Brother Design ‘n’ Craft Printer is a fun addition to your craft room and makes printing pocket-sized photos a piece of cake.
Selpic P1 Handheld Printer
The Selpic P1 is the worlds smallest handheld printer. This nifty little gadget will print on almost any smooth surface, including card, leather, plastic, glass, canvas and even wood! The printer is controlled via an app, and it works using inkjet technology but operates like a pen. As you sweep the Selpic P1 over your surface, the printer will transfer your text, barcode, QR codes, logos, line art, even monochrome photos. There are 8 different colours of ink to choose from, and as it only prints in one colour I recommend going for the black ink. Useful for adding sentiments to cards!
Canon Selphy Square QX10 Printer
Polaroid-style photos have been popular for years, and this trend shows no sign of slowing down. Great for scrapbooking, handmade cards or even decorating uni accommodation, the Canon Selphy Square QX10 Printer also makes a lovely gift in itself. Available in mint (pictured), pink, black or white, this palm-sized gadget connects wirelessly to your smartphone to print square 2.7″ x 2.7″ prints (68mm x 68mm), which last up to 100 years (although this hasn’t been tested!). It charges via USB and uses the Selphy Photo Layout App where you can also add stamps, filters, borders, text and overlays to your photos.
Kiipix Smartphone Printer
The KiiPix Smartphone Printer is unique in that it doesn’t need battery or mains power to work. You simply choose which photo you would like to print, load it up on your phone so that it fills the screen, turn your screen brightness up all the way, pop your phone face down on the top of the KiiPix, push the button and turn the crank. The photo slides out the side and will develop in a few seconds. The film is sold separately, but with such a low price point for the device itself makes this a great little printer for brightening up your papercraft.