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Ink Types

One of the most important aspects of wide format print is what ink should be used.

There are many different types of ink with each having their strengths and weaknesses, depending on the job.

Here are a few of the most used ink types in the industry:

Aqueous Inks:

There are two varieties of these water-based inks being Pigment and Dye.

The Pigment ink particles are mixed with the water and evaporates throughout the printing process, leaving the Pigment ink particles in the form of the artwork.

Pigment Aqueous Ink Pros - More resistant to daylight. Lasts longer outdoors.

Pigment Aqueous Ink Cons - Colours are not as bright as Dye Inks.

The other variety of Aqueous inks, Dye Inks, work in a similar way to the Pigment Inks where water is mixed with the dye particles and evaporates, leaving the image behind.

Dye Aqueous Ink Pros - Bright vibrant colours.

Dye Aqueous Ink Cons - Not resistant to daylight resulting in quicker fading. (These inks are fine indoors away from sunlight)

Sublimation Inks:

Sublimation ink can come from Aqueous dye inks or oil-based solvent inks (we’ll get to those later).

Sublimation print is processed using heat to transfer the dye particles onto the chosen material. The heat of a heatpress reacts with the ink causing it to transform from a solid to a gas, absorbing the ink and image into the material rather than sitting on-top like most other print methods.

Sublimation Ink Pros - Dye Sublimation with fabric is durable. Doesn’t flake or crack on clothing.

Sublimation Ink Con - Can’t be used on dark coloured material.

Solvent Inks:

Solvent inks are generally oil-based mixed with pigment particles.

Solvent inks create bright, durable and fade resistant print results, great for outdoor items, and has been part of the print industry for a while; however, they are not the easiest to work with due to the toxic chemicals used in them.

Solvent Ink Pros - Waterproof and Light Resistant whilst providing bright coloured results. Flexible.

Solvent Ink Cons - Created with VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) making them not environmentally-friendly. Even its counterpart, Eco-Solvent inks are not so environmentally-friendly (despite not containing VOCs or the name). Eco-Solvent inks are slow drying so more heaters within the printers are needed.

UV Inks:

UV Inks are a popular choice within the print industry. They produce a high quality print finish whilst also being quick drying under the ultraviolet lights resulting in a quick turnaround on jobs.

UV Inks create clean and bright prints that catch the light allowing easy legibility of images and text.

UV Ink Pros - Print results are bright and vibrant. NO VOCs involved so it is more environmentally-friendly than solvent inks. Quick drying. Smearing resistant.

UV Ink Cons - Costs a little more than other ink; however, makes up for this by reducing the need to constantly clean printers resulting in more time and less environmental waste.

Latex Inks:

Latex inks may be quite new to the print industry but they have a lot to offer.

They are able to be printed on a variety of surfaces such as paper, gloss and even vinyl.

Latex inks produce a high quality result like that of solvent inks but without the VOCs.

Latex Ink Pros - Produce clean and bright prints. No VOCs involved. Versatile surface print.

Latex Ink Cons - Required regular cleaning to stop the latex from building up and blocking.


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