Inks have been around for as long as humans have been drawing and writing, and although the chemicals involved have become much more sophisticated, at its core it is still the same recipe: colourant and solvent. In this article, I want to take a look at some of the inks used in specific businesses.
As you might guess from the name, Aqueous inks are ones that use water as their solvent. This means that they are both eco-friendly and free from harmful chemicals. This makes them a safe choice for many indoor uses, as they do not require ventilation or special care when using them.
The fact that they are so safe makes them perfect for uses in shops, restaurants and bars.
The major drawback of aqueous inks are the fact they lack the sticking power of other chemical solvent inks. This means that Aqueous inks are, by and large, limited to printing onto paper and cardboard. They simply do not have the durability or the sticking power to mark substances like plastics and glass.
Technically, this is a subset of solvent inks, with the central idea being to try and find greener alternatives to the traditional hard chemical solvents used in solvent inks. This is a modern trend, with research and development by companies like Needham Ink driving forward a new green wave in printing.
Essentially, these inks are designed to be usable in the same way as Solvent inks, but without the harmful chemicals. A particular advantage of these inks is that the less harmful solvents mean that you can use them without the need for professional ventilation systems. This makes these inks particularly well suited to use by smaller printing companies and start-ups who lack the infrastructure to work with heavy-duty chemicals.
The point of these inks is that they can, in the long-term, replace the harder solvent inks. However, as this is an active field of research, there are not always eco equivalents for some solvent inks. As such, these eco-inks are more limited in the materials they can be used on, although as time progresses this will change.
Solvent inks are a huge category of inks. Essentially, anything that uses a chemical (as opposed to water) solvent is technically a solvent ink. Typically, these inks are much more heavy duty, using less eco-friendly chemicals as solvents to help the ink bind better to industrial materials (for in-depth chemistry take a look here). These are the inks that are used to mark plastics, glass and even some metals. As such, expect to find these inks in industrial settings – factories and professional print shops.
These inks, as well as being less than green, are often harmful. So, they have to be handled with care and used in well-ventilated spaces. Often this means that printing with solvent inks is handled by specialists. This kind of ventilation equipment is often expensive, so there is a high initial cost for working with these inks.
With the basic distinctions between inks laid out, hopefully I have helped you decide what the right ink is for your business needs. With eco-solvent inks, it is certainly worth taking the time to look into them, as they will save you on equipment costs as well as being a greener choice.