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Large Format Printer Inks

What types of inks are available for Large Format Printers?

Aqueous

Aqueous inks as the name might suggest are water based inks of which there are two main different types- Dye based and Water based.

Dye Inks
Dye inks can be thought of as a sugar solution dissolved in water. The biggest advantage of dye-based inks is their vibrancy in colour; however they are prone to UV fading and if a drop of water hits the paper, the ink will re-dissolve (water soluble). They are fantastic at producing fine line drawings, with crystal clear and dense fine lines.

Pigment Inks
Pigment inks are more like flour suspended in a liquid. The molecules in a pigment ink are much larger than that of a dye ink and as such, are more robust against moisture and UV fade. This means it retains its colour vibrancy for longer and has greater colour stability, with an archival life of 200 years quoted on some paper types under ideal conditions. Pigment inks are able to more precisely reproduce colour, shades and graduations.

Solvent and Eco-Solvent

Solvent inks are a type of ink made to work in inkjet printers and is a term used to describe an ink not made with a water base, but with an oil based carrier. There are three parts to solvent ink: the carrier fluid, pigment and resin. The oil base in the ink keeps the components that make up the ink in liquid form, and once applied to the media, dissolves.

Eco-solvent is made from ether extracts taken from refined mineral oil.  Eco-solvent inks are so called because they are based on non-aggressive solvents, which do not produce the same amount of harmful volatile compounds (VOCs). The notion that eco is somehow more ecologically sound is a misguided notion however, because neither the material used in making it nor the process in creating it are ecologically conscious choices.

Solvent inks can print on a wide range of coated and uncoated media. They are great when used for outdoor sign applications as the ink is waterproof, scratch resistant and long lasting.

Latex

Latex inks are water-based, and don’t give off much in the way of harmful vapours (like solvent inks). They are instantly dry, but do require exposure to high temperatures during the process to cure the inks. Latex inks are very durable, being water resistant, UV resistant and scratch resistant and are capable of printing on a huge variety of different medias.