Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Printing brings together the critical elements of ink, print system, and substrate. Each must be composed or constructed of materials that let it work well with the other two. Major companies spend small fortunes researching the exact composition that constitutes a great ink for a specific purpose. Print systems are designed to dispense the ink in perfect patterns in order to create clear, bright characters. Substrates are tested to see which recipe for ink provides the best results.

No-clog ink, hi-res ink, ultraviolet ink--these kinds and more are available for use in inkjet marking systems by industry to meet packaging needs. Ink colorants are either pigments or dyes, with each having superior characteristics in certain areas. Pigment inks consist of solid color particles within the fluid, and have excellent ultraviolet resistance, but are not as stable and vibrant as dye-based inks. Dye-based inks produce stable, intense, bright colors, but are not as resistant to ultraviolet light.

Printing Systems and Substrates

Continuous inkjet printing (CIJ) is the premier technology for small character printing, and several commercial systems employ this technology. One such system permits small-to-medium runs of cases, and prints on two sides of the case with one pass. It has 256 jets and a resolution of 180 dpi (dots per inch) that produces scannable barcodes, crisp logos, and excellent graphics.

As for substrates, the latest technology will allow a business to print on almost any surface. With wood products alone, various ink formulations and print systems permit different character sizes to be permanently affixed to panel board, pressed wood, plywood, moldings, and other types of lumber. The variety of substrates applies equally to other substances: glass, plastic, metal, corrugated cardboard.

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