Maskable photo paper?

Has anybody discovered a good photo paper (inkjet-printable ) that will easily release masking (transfer paper) without tearing?

This is for upside-down cutting, so I can’t omit the masking. The few papers I’ve tried so far can’t handle it (even after drying), unless I spray them with fixative. I don’t want spraying to be my long-term solution.

I’m searching for a “luster” finish paper. Or matte. Surprisingly, the “luster” paper I tried was more sticky than the matte.

Some photos that I got from print shops worked fine. I don’t know what they do to treat those; maybe they add a laminate.



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Have you tried lower-tack masking? It comes in various stickinesses.

As a proof of concept you can try reducing the stickiness by adhering the masking to a cloth and removing it once or twice. Each time it should come away a bit less tacky.

What about sealing the photo paper with a waterproof coating? You may be able to wipe the residue off safely?

In general you can reduce smoke residue by cutting via multiple passes at lower power and higher speeds. You may be able to get an acceptable result that way?

It’s also been shown that elevating your material can reduce both flashback and smoke residue on the bottom surface of your cut. Rigging something up to hold your photo above the crumb tray might assist things.

I had some success with a vacuum tray reducing smoke residue but never quantified it nor tried it with something like a photo.

Maybe some things to try in here?

Edit: ah “sprayed with fixative” I guess you tried sealing already. Cool that it worked, bummer it’s not viable at scale.


Thanks @evansd2 ! Yes, so far I’ve tried:

  • lower tack paper
  • spraying with fixative (it works but this is too messy for me)
  • adhering the transfer paper to the table and removing it (haven’t tried using cloth yet)
  • multiple passes (I always do this anyway, but find the masking is still required)

I haven’t tried raising it from the bed, but that wouldn’t work with my current requirements (I’ll explain that later when I write up my project).

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@jbmanning5 has cut more puzzles than probably any of us. Maybe he has a tip?


What’s your printing method? Inkjet? Laser? Something else? They make waterproof printer papers (might want to check an SDS there), maybe that’s a viable option?

(Laser yes, inkjet no. SDS no, but it claims to be wood based like typical paper. I’d still look for an SDS)

(Inkjet yes, SDS no)

EDIT: Only semi-related… rabbit hole time. This is interesting, inkjet compatible transparency media:

I wonder what shenanigans you could get up to with this stuff and the laser.


Yes, using inkjet.
Hm, very interesting! Never heard of waterproof paper, but obviously lots of uses for it.

I have some of the Teslin stuff, branded as National Geographic Adventure Paper. It feels like a kind of toothy plastic sheet, though not particularly rigid. It says it is not for use in laser printers, possible because it would melt. I remember being impressed that inkjet prints on it were pretty unsmudgeable when I used it.

No composition info but, there is a number to call for “technical questions”: 415-558-8700

As for masking: other options include Post-It tape (if the areas are small enough) and, Frisket film.


Thanks @evermorian, I’ll look into those products.

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I always thought that stuff felt like tyvek, yeah?

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Kind of? I had heard that description of it when it first appeared. It almost feels like a more rigid vinyl. Compared to a Tyvek FedEx envelope I have here, it is thicker and a little more rigid. The Tyvek envelope seems to have fibers, while the Adventure Paper is a completely smooth finish with no obvious fibers or grain. That tracks with Tyvek being “flashspun high-density polyethylene fibers.” The Adventuring Paper seems more like it was cast or extruded from a uniform material.

Some quick web searching suggests that Teslin is probably made primarily of polyolefin and silica. There seem to be several variants and, those might have any number of other “flavorings.” I glanced at a couple SDSs that said “no specific data” under the hazardous combustion products section. It looks like it is more likely to melt than combust.


when doing puzzles (unless he’s changed his process, and this is what i learned from him and what i do with puzzles), the puzzles are mounted and then sprayed with winsor & newton spray varnish. which one you use depends on which finish you want. i use the satin in the link below.


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