The term LightJet is often used to describe a digitally made chromogenic print. Unexposed silver-halide (AgX) photographic paper is temporarily fixed on an internal drum. Three digitally controlled lasers simultaneously expose the photo-sensitive emulsion on the paper medium (or back-lit transparency medium) with red, green, and blue laser light. The amount of light from each laser varies to provide specific color and density values for each pixel imaged in the LightJet print.

This type of printing is becoming less and less popular because there are alternatives, like dry lab dye sublimation, that create better photos without the use of AgX paper, harsh chemicals, and LightJet printing technology.

Better Alternatives To LightJet Printing For Photos

LightJet printing is classified as a “wet lab” photo printing method. It’s “wet” in that it uses treated paper and chemical emulsions to get the desired results. While this was cutting-edge a few decades ago, this “wet” process has been surpassed by new technology that delivers even better results while not harming the environment. Alternatives to wet lab LightJet printing include:

  • LightJet PrintDye sublimation printing – Uses heat and pressure to transfer an image onto the desired medium by turning the solid ink into a gas that then permeates the substrate. This is the most common alternative to LightJet printing
  • Inkless Thermal Printing – Uses heat to change the color of the ink on the photo paper.
  • Solid Ink Printing – Ink sticks are heated to a liquid state and applied to the substrate surface.
  • Electrophotography – Uses electrostatic charges and toner particles to affix the image onto the paper.

Why Professional Photo Printers Are Abandoning LightJet Printing

LightJet printing was great for what it was, but with the new alternatives, it’s become clear that it’s an out-of-date technology and bad for the environment compared to new dry lab photo printing techniques.

Compared to dry lab prints, LightJet prints have:

  • Worse color gamut compared to dry lab
  • Less sharp resolution
  • Doesn’t allow for ICC color management
  • Uses chemicals that are bad for the environment