What Is Printer Ink Made Of?

What Is Printer Ink Made Of?

May 9, 2018

You hit “print.” Almost like magic, a sheet of paper appears from the printer with the words and images from your screen. Have you ever wondered what the printer uses to place these letters and pictures on the paper? If you’re like most people, you only think about printer ink when you have to change the cartridge. Even then, you might not know exactly what you’re putting in the machine. Your printer outlet in Phoenix, AZ offers the following overview to provide insight into the mysteries of printer ink.

What is ink?

Ink is a dye or pigment, either organic or inorganic, that is suspended in a solvent or dissolved in a solvent. It is basically the same substance as paint, but it is applied differently for printing and writing tasks.

Are all inks the same?

No, they are not. Modern inks fall into two categories. They are either printing inks or writing inks. Within the printing ink category, there are two subcategories. The first is ink for conventional printing. The second is for digital nonimpact printing. Conventional printing involves mechanical plates that transfer images to paper. Digital printing involves ink-jet and electrophotographic technology.

How are inks made?

If we trace ink back to its earliest forms, we will find inks made from fruit and vegetable juices, octopus and squid secretions, shellfish blood and tannin from nuts and tree bark. Today, color printing inks are made from soybean oil, linseed oil and heavy petroleum distillate. These are combined with organic pigments made of salts that contain dyes. Some inorganic pigments are also used to create printing inks. To create black ink, manufacturers use carbon black.

To create special ink characteristics and aid in the printing process, additives are often used. These include surfactants, drying agents, waxes and lubricants.

Why do some inks smudge and others don’t?

If you’ve ever read a newspaper, you’ve probably walked away with a bit of the print on your fingers. Yet, when you read a book, this doesn’t happen. This is because various print media use different papers and ink-drying processes. Inks made of linseed oil dry through air oxidation and become solidified. Alcohol or petroleum inks dry by evaporation. This usually occurs when the paper is heated during manufacturing.

When newspapers are printed, mineral oil inks are used, and the papers are printed very quickly, without heating. This quick production and lack of heating means the ink does not air-dry. It becomes absorbed into the paper fibers, where it remains slightly damp. The ink’s moisture never completely evaporates, so it smudges your fingers when you come in contact with it. Books, on the other hand, are usually completely dried during production and are printed on different types of paper, so they do not smudge.

Get More Insight

Do you have additional questions about printer ink and its uses? Contact the printing experts at your local printer outlet in Phoenix, AZ. Our knowledgeable staff is happy to answer any questions you have about printer ink, printers and printer operation. Reach out to us today!

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