Educational: How Do They Make Ink?


Ink is created from a variety of dyes and oils that come from several sources that are formulated to suit a specific purpose. For instance, black ink is made from carbon black exclusively for use as a dye, but other pigments are used to produce virtually every color of the rainbow that you find in printing nowadays.  Some inks include resins to help keep the pigments bound together and to make them suitable for printing on specific surfaces.

One crucial part of the process for making black ink is wetting the carbon black during the premixing process. After that, any pigment that is necessary is added to the oil to create the desired viscosity, which affects how the fluid flows in the printing process. The goal of this process is to create inks that provide the ideal dispersion onto whatever material is being printed on. There are several configurations performed by machines that can alter the mixing and flow options for printing.

Premixing is necessary to ensure no trapped air is left in the ink formulation. High-speed dispersers are used to premix inks. Once the premix is taken through the disperser, it is mixed more and then additional oil and/or resin is added to achieve the ideal milling viscosity, also known as the mill base. The ink pigment is run through a chamber that creates smaller particle sizes, which is determined by the dispersion requirements.

After that, the ink pigment endures a variety of filtration steps used to eliminate large particulates in case any metal is left behind from the milling process. The tiniest of metal pieces can be filtered through an electromagnetic filter designed to grab metal fragments.

Once all metal fragments are eliminated, the pigment is pumped into a letdown tank to make final adjustments to the ink. This is done to meet the needs of customers with specific printing needs.

Color inks are processed differently than black inks. Flushed pigments are used instead of dry pigments like carbon black.

The final stage of manufacturing color pigments involves filtering the water-based mixture that is then put in a concentrated form called a presscake. The presscake is mixed with an oil-based varnish to extract extraneous water from the pigment. That process uses a heating and vacuuming action.

Why do they flush pigments? They put color pigments through a flushing process so that the pigments will be dispersed evenly throughout the ink medium. Flushing also helps manufacturers avoid expending the high-energy use that comes from using milling machines. The raw materials like oils, extenders, and varnishes must be thoroughly mixed at a consistent temperature to prevent pigment deterioration in the process.

After the mixing is done, the ink is tested for quality to ensure it meets all the requirements. Then it goes through a series of filtration processes to remove oversized particles just like what is done for black ink that removes metal particles. Sometimes oversized particles stay behind due to the processes the color ink goes through, and those particles must be removed. After that final process is complete, the ink is shipped to its respective customers for their use.

These are the basics steps taken in the manufacturing of black and color ink. While there are other technologies some manufacturers use in addition to these, the basics remain intact in the manufacturing of ink.


Article by Needham Ink

How Does the Future of CIJ Technology Look?


Continuous Inkjet, also referred to as CIJ technology is one of two wildly popular and dominant technologies that are used today for industrial coding. CIJ is popular because it’s fast, low-maintenance, and very reliable. The advantages of CIJ printing technology are that it can be used on virtually any packaging material, on curved surfaces, and it adheres well to every material upon which it is used.

CIJ is one of the oldest and still most reliable printing technology to date. Whenever reliability, speed, accuracy, and flexibility are called for in printing, it’s the go-to tech.


How does CIJ work?

The basic process of CIJ printing begins when a stream of the appropriate ink is broken down into several miniscule droplets inside an electrically charged chamber. The electrical pulse comes from a non-conducting source like ceramic or a quartz crystal.

A vibration is applied to force the charged ink droplets to pass through an electrostatic field found between its deflector plates. The speed and charge applied helps with the proper positioning of the ink droplets that drop onto the substrate and stick to it. No part of the print head touches the substrate. Excess ink (where applicable) is recirculated and returned and stored in the appropriate tank to be used again.

Up to around 120,000 miniscule ink droplets, measuring around half the diameter of a single human hair, are propelled onto the substrate per second. That is one of the reasons it’s fast, efficient, versatile, and why the ink adheres so well to a wide range of surfaces.

The base solvent used in the CIJ process also allows the ink to dry quickly on production lines, which is crucial to productivity and quality. CIJ printers are capable of printing codes on almost any surface regardless of its shape, size, texture, or porosity.


How is CIJ used?

The primary purpose CIJ printing is used is for imprinting information on certain products like dates, batch codes, times, text, logos, and product names. It’s used to provide data on the product/package that can be used for tracing when needed and for compliance regarding mandatory laws and regulations.

CIJ printers can run for several hours before any servicing is necessary, which is better than other printing technologies. It’s a cost-effective solution that offers several diverse printing options for a wide variety of industries. Keeping costs down without affecting quality is important in the business world.


Where is CIJ used?

Industries that use CIJ printing technology include food and beverage, electronics, cosmetics, automobile construction, and numerous other industries where marking and coding is required by the government and other regulatory entities. CIJ has proven itself to be the simplest, most cost-effective and inexpensive, and reliable solution for several industrial applications since it can be used for coding and marking virtually any material, at any orientation or speed, and onto nearly any material regardless of the size, texture, or shape.

Continuous Inkjet printing technology has evolved and will continue to do so in the coming years. The basic premise of the printing process will likely remain the same, which means it will maintain its cost-effective and efficient status for years to come. It will continue to be popular and will likely expand its capabilities to more industries.


This article was contributed by Erryn Deane from Needham Ink. They manufacture and provide various types of industrial ink.