Inkjetmall Newsletter 11/23/2020
23 November, 2020 by
Inkjetmall Newsletter  11/23/2020
Jon Cone

Superlatize Your Prints with our UltraHD™ Matte Black ink

  1. Because it is the darkest Matte Black ink on Earth and it will make your matte surface fine art prints stand out against everyone else's.
  2. It is made of 100% pure carbon and you give up nothing in regards to permanency to print images with a full stop more of dynamic range.
  3. You can use it in all Epson legacy printers and produce matte prints with darks and shadows and areas of black that surpass the latest Epson printers.
  4. There is no better ink for printing direct to plate photogravure and many other alternative processes that require an opaque black ink.  Even silkscreen film printing with just one channel!

Some back history on UltraHD™ MK ink

No one has anything like it. Not 3rd party nor OEM. Were it easy, others would have done so by now. We have specialized in carbon ink formulation for more than two decades. That's longer than even EPSON, Canon and HP! An ink like this was destined to come from Vermont PhotoInkjet!

This formulation is our nose up to Anish Kapoor, an artist who claims to own the rights to the darkest black paint on Earth. And then Stuart Semple came along and made his black paint even darker! Crimey! Neither owns the rights to the darkest black inkjet ink on Earth. Growing dark carbons is expensive - but certainly not exclusive. Try patenting the greenest spinach, or the reddest apple. Imagine inventing yellow! The idea of an artist trying to patent something creative is disturbing, but alas so contemporary.

In any event, our UltraHD™ has nothing to do with Kapoor or Semple or the particular carbon either has used or has patented. But, it is quite a specialized carbon and it is the darkest matte black inkjet ink on Earth.

We were originally challenged to make this ink as part of a fine art "giclée" ink set for Shanghai Mimaki in China. Mimaki is a large format printer manufacturer based in Japan. They license EPSON print heads, but make printers with them that are more reliable, robust, and engineered for professional printing studios. Printers like these rarely clog because they use degassed ink instead of relying on dampers to dissipate air and regulate ink flow. Imagine if EPSON built their printers this way!

In China, Shanghai Mimaki wanted to sell "fine art" printers into the rapidly growing China fine art reproduction market. The size and wealth of the middle class in China had absolutely exploded, and the art market there was similar to what it was in the USA in the 1980s. So is their middle class. Fine art printers could barely print enough to satisfy the demand for fine art. It was an enviable position, considering the shrinking size of our middle class and the depression our fine art market took in the mid-2000s.

Shanghai Mimaki wanted to enter a market crowded with popular EPSON printers and they needed to have something "better" than what EPSON was offering. Shanghai Mimaki had already conducted testing of our inks and they ask if they could rebrand ConeColor and whether we could produce a new matte black ink for fine art with a higher dMax than what the EPSON printers were producing. 

We purchased a SureColor P9000 to base our specification against. Nano-carbon engineering, the likes of which Kapoor and Semple were fighting over, offered a great potential. UltraHD would become the most expensive carbon ink that we had ever engineered. We tailored the ink to be as dark as possible without looking artificially dark like Kapoor's or Semple's. It needed to look natural, just dark as all heck. So, we went to the point of it just beginning to become a black hole and then backed off until it looked just right.

We reprinted a number of photographs that we had previously printed with our original MK and we made comparative prints with the Epson SureColor P-9000 and ConeColor Pro with the new UltraHD MK. My first reaction to our final results was just a huge smile and a funny feeling that I was officially looking at a photographic medium that no one else had ever (photographically speaking...) Was amazing.

We went to China with samples in hand to travel with Shanghai Mimaki and (with translation) speak with some of the better fine art studios around Beijing to look at the work they were producing with EPSON, Canon and HP. We showed them our sample prints and we asked them to print dMax targets on their systems to compare. They were all running very sophisticated RIPs and isolating the matte black ink was quite easy for them. The level of expertise in these studios was impressive. The amount of kit and calibration hardware was extraordinary.

While we waited for each studio to make dMax targets we were able to tour their facilities. We were impressed by the size of some of these studios and the amount of printers that were churning out what appeared to be an endless sea of art reproductions.

All of these studios were at a scale that is simply hard to imagine. The buildings were huge - all purpose built - and often up to ten floors of fine art inkjet printing. One studio in particular had a "traditional" floor where they were laminating inkjet washi to linen and producing traditional Chinese hanging scrolls. This photo below is just from one small corner. Behind where I was pointing my camera were several more tables each with a team of artisans.

Imagine owning a print studio with 40 large format printers so busy you had to operate 24/7 and still could not keep up with the demand. By the way, we absolutely blew away the results of EPSON, Canon and HP matte blacks.

Our inks were packaged and labeled under the Mimaki Brand in giant 1000ml degassed ink tanks. More than 30 fine art "giclée" studios ran the systems. Part of the marketing of Shanghai Mimaki was selling inks 'Made in USA". They warrantied their print heads (after testing for 18 months) with our inks. It has been a feather in our cap to be sure! 3rd party providing inks to an OEM. And that is the reason why (initially) we formulated UltraHD Matte Black ink.

But, Mimaki is not the first company to Brand ConeColor or Piezography inks as their own. In the 2000s, Roland sold fine art printers with 12 ink positions that used Cone inks. This was during a time when EPSON had only 8 ink positions. The Roland D'Vinci printers were spectacular and available in a length up to 112 inches. The 12 ink positions featured five gray inks (which were Selenium K7 inks! and the rest were color.) The printers could be used for fine black & white fine printing or for fine color printing. Or the sophisticated software (made by ErgoSoft) could incorporate both on the same print run. For D'Vinci we exclusively made a "universal" black ink made of pure carbon that was as good on glossy paper as it was matte paper.

We have been selling our ConeColor formula into EPSON printers now for 15 years and our Piezography inks for nearly 20 years. Our inks have the reputation as being the most consistent and reliable. 

Here in USA, we released the ultra dark matte black ink as ConeColor and Piezography Pro UltraHD™ Matte Black. It is startlingly darker than Epson, Canon and HP matte black inks and we do not believe any of these companies will try and replicate it because it would be too expensive of an ink to make and there would not be enough profit for their business models. This is the most expensive ink we offer at InkjetMall. 

But, it is worth it if dMax is important to your work. Photographically speaking, it produces prints that are about one full photographic stop darker than the EPSON MK and at much darker than the Canon MK. On papers such as Hahnemuhle Photo Rag or Canson Rag Photographique, a print can be produced that stands up to the dMax usually associated with glossier papers. The dMax usually puts a smile on the observer's face when they first see it. It is that dark. In terms of densitometry an Epson Pro 9900 reaches a dMax of about 1.64 with EPSON MK ink and about 1.85 with our UltraHD™ MK. On a 7880 it is even more spectacular. 

UltraHD comes standard with our ConeColor and Piezography ink sets.
You can buy a single bottle of the UltraHD™ MK ink here.
Cartridges for your printer can be found here.

So upgrade your printer's ink - not the printer itself!

One of the most significant uses of this ink at Cone Editions Press is for printing on uncoated washi paper and uncoated watercolor paper. The image below is printed on a handmade washi paper that does not have an inkjet receptor coating. This particular paper is Echizen Washi made by the living Master Ichibei Iwano IX. The photographer is George Wiedenhofer. He supplied this paper to Cone Editions for the printing of his portfolio. We made a video to show how we did that here. We used the $150 Piezography Professional Edition Software Toolkit to build a media profile for it and we were able to print the entire range of tone with an excellent dMax! The washi was attached to support sheets to prevent the paper from hitting the print head in our 44" EPSON.

If you are currently running Epson color inks and are on the fence about ConeColor - you should at the very least replace your matte black ink with our UltraHD MK. It is an amazing printer upgrade. It will take a bit of printing to run out the currently installed black ink in a large format printer. You would see it instantly in a desktop printer that has cartridges attached to the print head. But, when you see the depth of black this ink produces in your work - we hope it will give you the confidence to switch over your entire printer to our inks.

If you are curious about it - make a print on your Epson with one of the papers we support at Cone Editions Press, and upload the same image to have us print it for $75 here:

If you are still running the original Piezography K7 inks with the original matte black, you should replace it with UltraHD. We have already produced a QTR profile library for upgrading your ink to. It will add at least a stop darkness to your work.

You can find UltraHD™ MK here. You can find cartridges for your printer here.

You can surpass the dMax of SureColor printers with your legacy model printer by upgrading your EPSON matte black to our UltraHD MK. You can even surpass the dMax of your SureColor printer by installing UltraHD™ MK! So, don’t upgrade your printer, upgrade your ink set!

Cone Editions YouTube Channel

Cone Editions Press YouTube Channel is highlighting many of the materials we sell at InkjetMall. 


If you are curious about having one of your photographs made into a photogravure by Cone Editions Press: More info here.

InkjetMall is still selling solar plates right here in sizes from A4 - A0.

Inkjetmall Newsletter  11/23/2020
Jon Cone
23 November, 2020
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