Do You Know How Industrial Ink Is Made?
When you hear the word ink, what do you envision? Perhaps the slang for tattoo, ink for your printer, or an old-fashioned pen that uses ink from an inkwell comes to mind. The word ink means something different to us all, but it’s pretty much the same creature; ink.
Ink is a substance that has been used for centuries to write poetry, stories, plays, television and movie scripts, college essays and theses, music, lyrics, book reports, and a plethora of other types of compositions. Before modern ink was produced, ink came from mixing a formulation of water, oils, and charcoal, which is how they drew up historical documents. Ink is still made from a mix of carbon, oils, and water, but it is now integrated into modern technology.
For those working in the industrial ink sector, ink has a different meaning. It’s used for coding, imprinting, and marking on various substrates beyond printer paper like we use in home inkjet printers. Just like you have recipes you follow to bake and cook food, industrial ink manufacturers have recipes they follow to create various types of inks for a wide range of applications.
These ink recipes usually have the same or similar ingredients. The differences fall under other categories like colors, ink consistency, and other variations that make the industrial ink compatible with the appropriate printers and applications. For instance, coding inks are formulated from dry pigments, while others flushed colored pigments.
One example is ink used for printing newspapers. The black ink on white or off-white paper contains carbon black dry pigment. The carbon black is combined with petroleum oil, water, or soybean oil to create the ink. Once the ink formula is made, resin is added to it so that the ink sticks to the newspaper. It’s similar to the old-fashioned inkwell and parchment concept, but is more mechanical in nature.
After the industrial revolution, the demand for more efficient and faster methods of printing became essential. This created the need for mass production of ink for more efficient delivery of publications.
Carbon black pigment was dry-packed and delivered to print shops that serviced publishers and business owners involved in various publications like newspapers. The method of dry packing the carbon black made it easier to store, sell, and deliver.
Great care was taken to prevent the pigment from forming aggregates or clumping that would make it worthless. Just like ink is made and formulated today, the goal was to create ink that had the proper viscosity and mix of oil and carbon black suitable for the printing press and paper used for publications.
Today, the need is being met for even faster and more efficient printing processes. High-speed dispersers are used by ink makers to properly chop up aggregates and disperse dry pigment into even, miniscule pieces that will mix easily with the oil or liquid used to create the ink.
The process used to create colored inks is different. Flushed (water-based) pigments are used for colored industrial inks. While this process doesn’t require the same high-speed process for dispersing as black ink, colored ink production has its own challenges. It still has to be blended perfectly with varnish, oil, or another extender to achieve the ideal luster, vividness, boldness, and depth, you would expect from color ink printing.
The essential blending process for ink hasn’t changed much. However, the technology, ingredients, and machinery have taken the process to the next level, making it more efficient, faster, and more effective for the development and making of industrial inks.
Erryn is the digital business manager for The Needham Group of companies, with a wealth of knowledge in laser marking systems, amongst many other things, he has decades of experience in online development, business analysis and management. In his spare time, he likes to find out how things work and looks to improve them, from vehicles to electronics or even musical instruments.