Technically, just about any printer can be used for arts and crafts. That said, when a machine is both versatile and powerful, you’ll see that quality reflected back in your DIY projects. Ideally, all good printers should offer speed, ease of use, and additional features, but the absolute best printers for crafters in particular should have two specific qualities: They should have a high maximum DPI, and they should be compatible with the materials you most often use for crafting projects — especially when that extends beyond standard printer paper.
Let’s start with DPI. This stands for dots per inch, and it represents how many tiny dots of ink are squeezed into a single square inch when printing. The higher the number, the clearer the image. A basic text document doesn’t require a particularly high DPI — in fact, it’d be a waste of ink — but crafting projects will almost always benefit from a clearer resolution. If you’re printing patterns and illustrations, opt for a DPI of at least 600, and for HD photos, a DPI of at least 1,200.
You’ll also want to consider what kinds of materials your printer can handle. Different machines have different allowed thicknesses, after which the mechanisms will likely jam. Almost all printers can handle standard printer paper and envelopes, but if you like to work with cardstock or thick, glossy photo paper, you might need a specialized machine. (And, if you’re looking for a crafting machine that can work with everything from wood and metal to fabric and vinyl, scroll down to the bottom of this article.)
1. The Overall Best Printer For Crafting
There are several reasons why the Canon all-in-one crafting printer is a favorite in this category: For one, it can copy, scan, and print, all in a single machine. For another, it has five individual inks for all types of projects, and it’s compatible with a wide range of materials, including photo paper, 12-by-12 page sizes, and thicker cardstock. (It even offers borderless printing for projects like greeting cards). Finally, there are multiple ways to print — like from your phone, tablet, computer, or memory card — and the high DPI makes it well-suited for HD photos.
- Approved materials: plain paper, super high gloss, glossy, semi-gloss, matte, greeting cards, printable discs, T-shirt transfers, envelopes, recycled paper
- Maximum DPI: 4,800 x 1,200
One reviewer wrote: “I wish there were more stars to give it! I am an avid crafter and scrapbooker. This printer makes my crafting days so much easier! I love the 12x12 printing feature. It also prints borderless and the quality of the print is outstanding! I doubt if I ever buy another brand.”
2. The Best Budget Printer For Crafters
You can probably find a basic printer under $100 — but for a craft-friendly printer specifically, anything less than $200 is a steal. Luckily, the HP ENVY all-in-one printer can print with a very high DPI, not to mention scan, copy, and mobile fax, all for an incredible price. Thanks to the wide range of compatible paper sizes and borderless photo printing option, it’s a great budget pick for the creative user. You can also access it from anywhere using almost any device.
- Approved materials: plain paper, HP photo paper, HP matte brochure, HP professional paper, HP matte presentation paper, HP glossy brochure, HP professional paper
- Maximum DPI: 4,800
One reviewer wrote: “This is an amazing printer! I got it for crafting, and it’s held up amazingly. I love the wireless printing as I can print from my phone.”
3. The Best Photo Printer
For the photographer or the scrapbooker, there’s the HP ENVY all-in-one photo printer. It can also scan, copy, and fax, but its stunning photo printing is where it really sets itself apart. Connect wirelessly from your mobile phone (on or off network), utilize AirPrint with Apple devices, or print directly from your SD card or with a USB. However you choose to use it, the result is a vivid, high-resolution image for photo projects. No wonder this one has earned a 4.4-star overall rating after almost 6,000 reviewers have weighed in.
- Approved materials: plain paper, HP photo papers, HP matte brochure or professional paper, HP matte presentation paper; HP glossy brochure or professional paper, other photo Inkjet papers, other matte Inkjet papers, other glossy Inkjet papers, recycled paper
- Maximum DPI: 4,800 x 1,200
One reviewer wrote: “It was easy to set up and connect to my computer. The prints look great, I mainly use it for printing photographs.”
4. The Printer With The Highest DPI
The Canon Pixma printer has the highest DPI out of all the printers on this list. It’s also capable of printing presentation charts up to 13 by 19 inches, can print a beautiful borderless photograph in under a minute, and works incredibly well with heavier cardstock for greeting cards, business cards, artwork, and more. Since it works wirelessly, prints quickly, and has a high-performance five-tank ink system, it’s one of the most well-rounded printers for crafting.
- Approved materials: Plain Paper, High Resolution Paper, Photo Paper Pro Platinum, Photo Paper Plus Glossy II, Photo Paper Glossy, Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss, Photo Paper Pro Luster, Matte Photo Paper, U.S. #10 Envelope
- Maximum DPI: 9,600 x 2,400
One reviewer wrote: “This printer is AMAZING. I was looking for a printer that would print cleanly on cardstock and this printer does the job beautifully. [...] As other reviewers have stated, the print quality is EXCELLENT as well. I couldn't ask for anything more at this price point.”
Also Great: The Silhouette America Curio Crafting Printer
The Silhouette America Curio crafting printer is often called out as the best printer for crafters; in my opinion, that’s a little misleading, since this machine doesn’t actually print — though it can draw and ink-stipple with sketch pens and felt-tipped markers (sold separately). This machine, however, does a lot of things your average printer can’t: It can cut custom designs out of paper, card stock, vinyl, and fabric; it can emboss and deboss paper and foil; and it even has a 5-millimeter clearance so it’s compatible with thicker materials like wood, canvas, and metals. In short, while it’s not a standard printer, it’s definitely worth the buy for avid crafters.
One reviewer wrote: “I'm in love with this machine! I've thought about buying one for a few years now, but have always talked myself out of it. It's amazing how much one machine can do. There is a learning curve to the software itself, but there are some great tutorials online. With the machine you get so many other great things to start your crafting off with. This is such a great deal!”
Also Great: The Cricut Joy Crafting Machine
Like the Silhouette, the Cricut Joy isn’t exactly a printer per se, but it does use pens and markers to make greeting cards, decals, and more. Since it measures just 8.4 inches across and cuts a huge range of materials (including vinyl, iron-ons, and cardstock) all without the need for a mat, it’s super portable — not to mention affordable. Despite its low price point, it comes with free design software for your computer, tablet, or mobile device, which you can use to create countless custom designs for all of your crafting projects.
One reviewer wrote: “I have wanted a cutting machine for years but couldn't justify the expense. The price one this little guy solved that for me. Pretty easy to use- Design Space takes a little time but is fairly intuitive. So much fun making decals, labeling things, and iron on t-shirts!”