Certify a Printer

Why Certify a Printer

For more than 40 years Freehand has been setting the pace for the screen print industry testing and qualifying printer models that created the industry standard. Times are different now; printers are not as readily available as they used to be. At Freehand we’ll continue to test printers to certify those that work best. However during the times you can’t get one of these certified printers or wish to test something new, we’re sharing with you our benchmark testing processes and built into AccuRIP a Certify Printer feature to develop and install your own custom printer binary file.

The printer must meet these requirements to start the process:

  • The Printer Drivers are installed and working properly
    • Printer drivers can be downloaded form the manufacturer’s website
  • The Printer can print to film
    • This can be tested by loading the printer with film then printing a test page
  • The Printer can print with black dye ink like, Dmax Dye Ink.
    • Some printers use bulk systems which makes it easy to fill with black dye while other printers use chip-based tanks. For those printers a refillable system such as auto chipped tanks or a continuous ink system also known as CIS will need to be found. Freehand recommends researching this before getting involved in deeper testing. Contact Freehand if you need assistance.
  • The Printer is free of clogs
    • Print a Nozzle Test with the OEM Printer Driver to ensure there are no clogs.

Mac or Windows

Printers can be certified by AccuRIP Emerald on either Mac or Windows. However, it should be noted that Printer Drivers running on Windows PCs often have more options for print settings, giving the greatest chance at success. The printer driver can be shared across a network in order to print from a Mac if the certified printer is setup on a PC. Find videos on printer sharing HERE.

Setting Up AccuRIP Emerald

Open AccuRIP Emerald, select the printer, set the media size to the film media size you are using for your testing, then click Apply.


Print a Test Print

Next, go to the Support tab and Click Print Test, then click Print to send the test page through.

Use the OEM printer driver settings in order to achieve the best prints. Use these settings windows throughout this process. Some settings may be tucked away in sections and windows labeled for advanced settings. The availability of settings may also change depending on the media selected.

ABI or Mono?

First figure out if the printer prints best with all color tanks (ABI), only black (Mono), or can do both.

Start by determining if Mono is possible.

With the printer filled with the stock color inks, set the media size to match the film loaded into the printer. If available, change settings to black and white. This may be called “grayscale”, “black and white”, or something similar. Set media type to Photo Glossy Paper or something similar. Photo Glossy Papers often deliver the highest resolution prints, but with some printers it may be necessary to choose a Matte style paper to gain access to black and white settings. Click Print.

Take a look at the halftones of the test print under a loupe or a magnifying glass. If you see ONLY black ink the printer supports Mono, if you see any color ink print another test page with the media type set to some form of Matte Paper.

Again take a look at the halftones, if you see ONLY black ink the printer must be set to Matte paper to print from only the black tank (Mono). If you still see any color the printer will only print from all tanks and must be set to ABI, in which case use the Photo Glossy Paper setting to achieve the highest quality prints results.

Once you’ve determined whether the printer prints with all color tanks (ABI), only black (Mono), or can do either, you can decide how you want to use the printer in the long term.

If the ABI vs Mono testing reveal the printer will only print using ABI mode the choice is simple. ABI mode generally prints better quality than Mono, but it’s a good idea to create both print modes to have ready if you ever have a severe clog in one of the color tanks and need to print from only the black tank until the clog is resolved.

Example of ONLY Black Ink Halftones

(120x Magnification)


Example of COLOR Ink Halftones

(120x Magnification)


Find the Best Settings

Time to dial in the best settings for the cleanest and sharpest print. Don’t worry about light blocking density yet, that will be handled when you switch to a proper black dye ink, like Dmax. For now, discovering best print quality is your goal.

Print another test from AccuRIP Emerald to open the OEM Driver. Freehand recommending starting with settings that most nearly match these for the first test:

  • If Mono was best with previous testing adjust settings that yielded only black ink.
  • Photo Glossy Paper (unless mono is desired and required the media to be set to matte paper)
  • Print Quality and Detail set to highest wherever possible
  • Color Management turned OFF
  • If Color Management must be turned ON for good quality:
    • Brightness set to lowest
    • Contrast set to highest
    • If ABI was best with previous testing adjust Saturation and/or Color Density to maximum

Click print from the OEM Print window and examine the results. Test different settings using Emerald’s Print Test until you get a clean and sharp print that you’re happy with. Although this process may be extensive before the best settings are found be patient and observant, you’ll get there.

Keep detailed notes on this process for future reference. You’ll want to remember your favorite settings when you find them. Take screenshots or keep a detailed text document to refer back to so you don’t lose your settings.

Create the Certified Printer

Once you’ve found the perfect settings, within AccuRIP Emerald go to File then Certify Printer.

Choose the printer from the list and select the ink mode you chose, Mono or ABI, then click OK.

This will open the OEM printer driver just like before. Input the settings that printed best and click Print. Instead of printing a test print, AccuRIP Emerald will save and remember these settings for all future prints passing through AccuRIP.

Verify Certified Printer

Select the printer within AccuRIP’s main window, print a test to double check everything looks good. For most printers, once certified the OEM print window will no longer be seen upon clicking print in Emerald. If the OEM Print window is seen you can double check to ensure it is using your saved settings.

Ink Density

OEM inks are formulated for paper printing. They will not achieve the standards for density and durability the screen print industry requires to expose screens. You should replace them with a proper film printing black dye ink.

At Freehand we manufacture Dmax black dye specifically for film printing from inkjet and bubblejet printers.

Fill the black tank or tanks for Mono printing or all tanks for ABI printing with black dye ink, like Dmax, to get reliable, dense and durable UV-light-blocking prints.

Bypass Preview

Save even more time by skipping AccuRIP’s preview window for every print. This is especially helpful when printing across a network. Go to preferences and select Bypass Preview.

Share Settings

Love the settings you found and want to share them with the screen printing community? Submit a ticket and Freehand will contact you about your printer settings and see to adding them to make your printer officially supported by AccuRIP Emerald.

Need More Help?

Get help from a live agent.


Start typing and press Enter to search