Join Claudia McCue for an in-depth discussion in this video Eat your mistakes: Edible printing, part of Print Production Essentials: Digital and Variable Data Printing.
I know we're all very concerned about the environment these days. We hate to have any kind of waste on a print job as a result of an error. But what I'm about to show you is, well, it's just like any other print process with some important delicious differences. If there's a problem with the job, you can eat your mistakes. The ink is actually edible food coloring and is available for a wide variety of Epson and Canon printers. Just like the one you might have next to your computer. There's no modification required to the printer.
The only difference is that you don't use regular inks. You use edible food coloring cartridges. And there are a number of places from which you can obtain these cartridges. Inkedibles is one. Icing Images is another, but there are more. So what do you print on? Well, it amounts to edible paper. It fits desktop inkjet printers, and what it really is is a thin sheet of icing on a carrier backing. It's available in white and multiple colors, and it's also available from the same places where you would buy the ink cartridges. So, how do you prepare your artwork? Well, pretty much like you would for any other job.
Although, I would suggest that you take advantage of the fact that this is going to be editable and have a little fun with the colors. It's a good idea to avoid tiny details because the icing is a bit absorbent. And here's a tip. Chill it before you go to place it on the cake, or cookies, or wherever you're going to use it. You should avoid touching the image. It's soft for quite some time after you print so you run the risk that you might smear it. You may find that your neighborhood grocery store is starting to offer this as a service. And you might be able to get them to print it for you. But of course, it's printing, so there are stages just like any printing job.
There will be preflight, then the printing, might be some assembly required, maybe you want some embossing. And then, of course, it has to be trimmed to final size. Let's watch a pro show us how it's done. Wayne Kjar at Your Cake Baker in Santa Barbara, California, shows us how to do it. First, he performs preflight on any incoming job. Here, he's examining the artwork to make sure that the colors are correct, it's of adequate size, and that it's the appropriate resolution. Looks like everything's okay, so the next step is to print.
The printing process is pretty simple and straightforward. That looks like a piece of paper going into the printer, but it isn't. It's that sheet of icing on the carrier backing. And that little Canon printer is printing it just like it would print a letter, except it's going to be edible when it's done. As with many print projects, there's some assembly required. Here, Wayne's peeling that icing off the carrier back. He's placing it carefully in perfect register on the substrate. He's smoothing it out and performing quality to control to ensure that there are no problems with the job. To add a really quality look to this job, we've asked for a little bit of embossing.
Here, Wayne is adding some attractive detail by adding embossing to the edges of the cake. This really makes it look great. The last step, of course, is to send the job into the finishing department so that it can be trimmed to the final size. Here, a skilled finishing operator, carefully following the job specifications, is trimming the job so that each piece is the correct final size. So there you go, a printing technique that goes far beyond paper, and it's completely edible.
- What constitutes "digital printing"?
- Printing short runs
- Working with digital color and large-format output
- Using InDesign's Data Merge feature to format variable data
- Printing on ceramics, metal, and wood