As with so much of what we see in the digital print world, there is a lot more to ink than first meets the eye.
Printer hardware has seen rapid and major advances during the last 20 to 30 years, but it would mean much less if ink technology hadn’t managed to keep up. From the way the printheads distribute the ink and the speed and precision that it’s laid onto the media, to the many surfaces it can be printed on, the colours that can be made and the rate that it dries, ink innovations have created so many opportunities for businesses of all sizes to seize.
In this article, we will examine the features of one of the lesser-known ink technologies available to us: resin ink.
An Introduction to Inks
As important as your printer hardware is to delivering the quality your customers demand, it’s worth understanding the features of specific inks and how they can benefit your production.
Historically, the three main ink types have been:
- Water-based – High-quality print and excellent colour-accuracy makes water-based ink ideal for applications that are meant to be seen up close.
- Solvent – Eco-solvent inks have long been the industry standard choice for the outdoor graphics market due to their water resistance and durability. The modern incarnation has come a long way since the early days of solvent inks.
- UV – Cures instantly thanks to the printer’s on-board UV lamps, meaning it is compatible with a huge range of substrates. The ink stays on the surface of the media rather than being absorbed, making it ideal for standard applications, as well as packaging prototypes or creating special effects by printing layers of gloss ink.
The ingredients include colour pigment, binders and drying agents, specifically formulated for the ink and with applications in mind. They each behave and react differently with the surface that they are printed onto, meaning that the application will determine the type of ink that should be used.
Ultimately, they are all fantastic solutions when paired correctly to the application (as long as the inks are approved by the printer manufacturer, of course). The speed of ink delivery and quality of print onto surfaces that were impossible to imagine just a few years ago is only improving as innovations in the digital print industry continue to influence businesses and entrepreneurs. Not least as we continue to be more environmentally conscientious as a society and the demand for more sustainable options grow.
Introducing Resin Ink…
Resin ink has been available for around 12 years now. It was developed for specific applications and for users requiring high quality print, exceptional colour saturation and the ability to print a broad range of substrates. Furthermore, it’s fast drying for fast turnaround times and has reduced environmental impact.
Resin ink shares many similarities with latex ink and, as a water-based solution with low volatile organic compound (or VOC) levels, has become a viable option for large format printing on all sorts of applications.
- Interior Wall Graphics
Vibrant colour makes resin ink an ideal choice for bringing bright and cheerful imagery to home, office and shop walls.
- Stickers and Labels
Create impactful stickers and labels to personalise all sorts of items, from packaging and electronics to skateboards and band merchandise.
- Office and Retail Graphics
Looking for ways to lift the atmosphere in a drab office space or shop? Graphics can be added to multiple surfaces including walls, floors and windows.
- Internal Décor
Resin ink is free from VOCs, meaning it is perfectly safe for internal print, such as wallpaper and nursery graphics.
- Vehicle Graphics and Wraps
Showcase your brand while on the move with impressive colour, excellent detail and durable print that lasts.
How Does Resin Ink Work?
Like any ink, there’s a considerable amount of science that goes into creating resin ink, so we will keep the explanation short. It’s a lot more complex than most of us will need to know, but it’s important as it can help answer the question: Is this ink suitable for my requirements? Here is a quick breakdown of how the printing process works:
- An optimiser is printed onto the media to prepare it for receiving the ink. This helps to improve dot formation and reduces bleed into the material before it has a chance to dry, improving the overall quality of the final print.
- Resin ink is printed on top of the optimiser.
- The printed media is fed through the printer’s dryer unit to fix the resin ink firmly in place.
- The print comes out dry, durable and ready to be sent to the customer straight away.
Resin is an excellent, reliable and resilient option when matched with vinyl, banners and paper because it covers well with good colour retention and produces such a high-quality finish. No VOCs mean that it is odourless and kind to the environment, and while heat is used to cure the ink, it does so quickly and efficiently. The quicker the drying time, the faster you can ship out your final product and move onto the next job.
The finish is remarkably vibrant, making the best use of the CMYK colour gamut. Whether you are printing retail signage, exhibition graphics or vehicle wraps, the results are uniformly high.
It’s essential for businesses to have a solution available no matter what their print requirement. Adding to the technologies available, whether that’s the ink or the device to print the ink, means that you and your customer have the best chance of getting exactly what you want.
Ink defines the performance of the print and the success of the application, so ensuring a tight match is crucial to getting the best results for your customer. The printer is responsible for a large part of the production, but the ink is certainly part of the final product, so the technology needs to keep advancing as economic, brand and environmental standards all continue to progress.