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Inks and Your Printer

No matter what type of printing press you have, there are two things you need: Ink, and something to print that ink on. Now, people have been keeping records with ink for thousands of years, but that doesn't mean that it isn't always improving. Inks are formulated differently depending on what type of machine you're using, so whether yours is a digital press or an offset press, you need to make sure you use the right compound.

Where Ink Comes From

There are different types of ink, but what they have in common is that they are solvents with coloring added. The coloring comes in the form of a dye or a pigment that is mixed with the solvent. When dyes are injected into the solvent, they completely dissolve, turning it into colored ink. Pigments, on the other hand, are simply very small particles that remain suspended in the liquid without dissolving. Before it can be used in presses, though, the ink may have to go through a filtering process—if large pigment particles remain floating in the liquid, for example, it can result in imperfect print jobs.

Ink and the Printing Press

Ink is one of the most important parts of any printing press, no matter the type. In an offset press, for example, the ink is slathered on a plate and then transferred onto a cylinder along with water. The ink and water don't mix, so as they transfer onto the paper, the ink retains the shape in which it is being printed. Depending on what is being printed, it may go through a curing process to make sure that it sets quickly. For example, printing on glossy materials like magazines and catalogs may be heated to set the ink, which has been chemically treated to cure when exposed to heat.

Digital Presses and Ink Cartridges

A digital press like an inkjet printer utilizes ink that has been packaged into cartridges. Instead of being applied to a rolling plate, the ink sprays from the cartridge onto the paper. A motor moves the ink cartridges across the paper, and as it goes, it lays down the ink. This process generally takes longer than printing paper with an offset press, but that type of press is used primarily for large-scale jobs. To learn more about the best inks for your printing press, contact Graphic Innovators.