Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

ColorLok Paper Qualification Program

ColorLok Technology is the new standard for better print quality. Paper that’s qualified with the ColorLok logo is able to produce the best possible digital prints. The ColorLok standard of performance is for plain-paper output with inkjet and laser printers, as well as common copy machines. As such, ColorLok papers will provide consistent and reliable printing regardless of which machine is used within an office environment.

The science behind ColorLok Technology results in more saturated colors, bolder blacks, and faster drying times.

During the papermaking process, a chemical additive is incorporated into the paper to “lock” pigments at the surface. Without this technology, paper acts more like a sponge, absorbing black and color pigments deep into the paper and away from the surface.

Watch: How ColorLok Technology works, John Stoffel, Head Chemist at HP

How does it Work?

The ColorLok additive is incorporated into the paper during the papermaking process and produces a chemical interaction with the pigment in the ink. This helps hold the colorant near the surface of the paper, while the water absorbs deep into the paper fibers. What results is a highly absorptive and fast-drying product.

Pigment particles are the colorant used in many inkjet inks for home and office printers. Pigments are suspended in a colorless liquid, called the ink vehicle, which rapidly immobilizes pigments at the paper surface.

The Printing Applications Laboratory at RIT performs ColorLok Qualification on submitted media. As an independent third-party testing facility, PAL has been exclusively chosen to ensure and validate compliance with ColorLok specifications. PAL has the technology, management, and the established infrastructure required for worldwide-class testing programs required by the ColorLok Technology Initiative, as well as broad experience in handling long-term global testing and qualification programs.


Standard Paper

When ink touches the surface of ordinary paper, pigment particles are absorbed deep into the porous sheet, thereby reducing optical density.

When ink touches the surface of ordinary paper it spreads along the paper fibers causing a ‘feathering’ effect.


Black text appears grey because much of the ink has saturated deep into the paper fiber, leaving less intensity on the surface.

ColorLok Paper

With ColorLok Technology, the ink vehicle penetrates the surface of the paper without transporting the pigment particles into the paper.

Color appears richer, more saturated and vibrant because the ink particles separate from the vehicle, before they are absorbed into the paper.

Black pigments are removed from the ink vehicle and remain concentrated on the paper surface, resulting in denser blacks with sharper edges.


Additional Information 

What is the qualification process?

Summary of the qualification process:

  1. Paper Company completes ColorLok Paper Qualification Testing Program Request Form (download from and submits to:

    Rochester Institute of Technology
    Printing Applications Laboratory
    Attn: Jeffery Wang
    Phone: 585-475-6878
    Fax: 585-475-2690
  2. Paper Company provides Qualification Paper Sample to PAL from every paper machine to be qualified. A paper machine will be qualified using the highest whiteness or brightness paper produced on that paper machine. By qualifying the highest whiteness C/2 or highest brightness (GE/TAPPI or ISO) paper, all other lower whiteness and brightness papers produced in that same paper machine will be qualified automatically. Note: Every conversion unit must be qualified in the case that the Paper Company uses more than one conversion unit to finish the paper product.

    The Qualification Paper Sample is 2 cartons of paper produced from the Paper Company. The Qualification Paper Sample should include 1 carton of sample from the beginning of the production run, and 1 carton of sample from the end of the production run.

    Ship required paper to:

    Rochester Institute of Technology
    Printing Applications Laboratory
    Building 78, Dock #3, Room 1425
    Attn: ColorLok® Qualification Program
    66 Lomb Memorial Drive
    Rochester, NY 14623

    Material originating from outside the U.S. must include an original commercial invoice and/or a bill of lading. This will assist with clearing the material through customs and reduce shipping delays.

  3. PAL will confirm receipt of paper and testing schedule upon receipt of required paper and completed ColorLok® Paper Qualification Testing Program Request form.

  4. PAL will perform the tests required to assess if the paper meets the specifications set by the program.

  5. Upon completion of testing, PAL will provide a summary report back to the Paper Company indicating pass/fail result.

What tests are conducted as part of ColorLok Qualification?

Qualification program includes 3 main parts:

  • Inkjet specific performance
    • Dot gain
    • Print Density
    • Dry time
    • Edge acuity
  • Laser specific performance
    • Smoothness
    • Electrical Surface Resistivity
    • Filler Particle Size
    • Wax Pick
  • Physical properties applicable for performance on both Inkjet and Laser technologies
    • Basis weight
    • Coefficient of Friction
    • Moisture content
    • Stiffness
    • Edge-cut quality
    • Pre-print curl

How long will it take to test the samples?

It will take approximately 8 - 12 weeks after paper samples are received to provide results if there is no backlog. 

Who developed these tests and the passing specifications?

HP developed these tests with the support and input from major paper and printer companies.

If a paper passes all tests, does a paper company automatically get the right to use the ColorLok® logo?

No, passing PAL testing does not mean a Paper Company can automatically obtain the rights to use the ColorLok® logo. A Trademark License Agreement must be signed to obtain the rights to use the ColorLok® logo. For details on this agreement, contact David Salmon ( for Asia or Andy Prater ( for USA, Europe, and Latin America.

Does PAL make the final determination as to who passes or fail the qualification tests?

Yes, PAL will make the final determination on whether the particular sample passes or fails the qualification. All tests must get a pass from PAL before proceeding further with the Trademark Licensing Agreement. If a Qualification Paper Sample fails the tests, there is a specific set of requirements for sample resubmission. Representation of the sample sent for qualification over multiple brands (weight, brightness, whiteness) of the paper products, as well as other aspects of the production, will be specified further in the referred document. For more details, contact PAL.

Will PAL keep my samples and testing results confidential?

Yes, PAL will not share your name or testing results with anyone unless the Paper Company authorizes PAL to do so; however, PAL will notify the Trademark Licensor if the paper passes or fails the tests as this is one of the requirements to get the rights to use the ColorLok® trademark.

Do other companies or organizations subsidize the qualification testing fees or costs?

No, the qualification cost will be covered by each individual paper company and must be paid directly to PAL.