Inkjet Ink

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Inkjet ink is an endlessly complex formulation that enables this colored fluid to penetrate or adhere to almost any surface. Home computer owners may have the common bubble jet or thermal printer that perfectly suits their needs for printing on porous paper. In industry, however, codes and markings must be affixed to plastic, metal, cardboard, and glass.

The two essential components that make this possible are water-based or solvent-based inks, and user-friendly print delivery systems. Ink manufacturers spend a great deal of time and money on the research and development of inks that produce crisp characters, have quick drying time, and are permanent. Inkjet ink printing has many advantages for business, as it is inexpensive, dependable, and easy to use. The printing systems themselves draw on the principles of chemistry, electricity, and mechanics, and use software and hardware to create practical applications for industry.

Wide Range of Inkjet Ink

Although the concept of inkjet printing is simple--spraying ink on a surface--the composition of the ink that enables it to penetrate or adhere is complex. Industrial-strength inks must be formulated for compatibility with print delivery systems, each of which requires specific properties in ink to perform properly. Viscosity, surface tension, pH, reactivity--all must be produced at exact levels in order to mesh with the print technology.

A key characteristic of inkjet ink is accurate, reliable color. Any fluctuation in intensity, hue, or brightness will adversely affect the final product. For this reason, quality control in companies that manufacture industrial inks must be top-notch. Pigments or dyes are used to color inks, and each ingredient has advantages and drawbacks.

Applications for Industry

Industrial plants are often open areas in which the environment intrudes. Dust, particles, airborne residue from various procedures--these commonly are part of the atmosphere when machinery is operating. Printing systems must be constructed so as to prevent the intrusion of this material into the workings of the system itself. The second prerequisite for these systems is that they print flawlessly on various substrates, porous and non-porous alike.

Substrates are simply the surfaces on which ink is printed in industrial settings. In building products, barcodes, lot numbers, or date codes can be printed on cement bags, gypsum board, and insulation. Carpet and corrugated cases both can be imprinted with the requisite information. Company identification and lot numbers can be permanently affixed to steel and aluminum with good color and dry time.

Substrates for Inkjet Ink

Only recently have companies been able to print permanent markings on a variety of substrates (wood, carpet, tiles). Today, however, the number of substrates is seemingly limitless, and the applications for companies using inkjet ink print delivery systems are innumerable. From building products to plastics, PVC pipe to corrugated cases, inkjet ink systems bring flexibility and range to a company's operations.

Modern inks are formulated for use on porous and non-porous surfaces, which cover an endless list of possibilities for businesses in any field. Water-based inks are used for porous materials, such as paper. Solvent-based inks are necessary to make characters adhere to non-porous surfaces, such as glass or plastic. An impressive new product is hi-res ink that is used with the exciting high resolution print systems that have recently been developed. Today, any business that needs coding or marking on any surface has many options for inkjet ink and print delivery systems that are high-quality, but affordable.

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