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How is printer ink made?

Copyright: Carther

What is printer ink made of?

Ink is a liquid or paste that contains pigments or dyes. Pigments give ink its colour and comes from a variety of sources containing nitrogen compounds – commonly known as dyes. Ink is used to produce text or an image.

Over 90% of inks are printing inks, in which colour is imparted by pigments rather than the dyes used in writing inks.

How is ink different to toner?

Both ink and toner are used for home and business printing, however the way they are applied to paper is different.

Ink is a liquid tinted with pigments and dyes, used in inkjet printers. There are two types: dye-based (colourants dissolved into liquids) or pigment-based (fine powder suspended in liquid).
Inkjet printers spirt tiny drops of ink through miniscule nozzles, onto paper.

Toner, on the other hand, is a very fine powder made from polyester; a type of plastic. In a laser printer, the laser creates an electrostatic template of your image on a rotating metal drum, which carries an electrical charge.

A cartridge dispenses toner onto the drum, but the toner sticks only to certain areas where the laser changes the drum’s electrical charge.

Copyright: Piotr Adamowicz

Copyright: Piotr Adamowicz

How is printer ink made?

Varnish is a clear liquid that is the base of any ink. Different varnishes are made for different inks, but they are all made by mixing the resins, solvents and additive, often at high temperatures, to form a homogeneous mixture.

Resins, which binds the ink ingredients together, react together and make the varnish more viscous.

Pigments are then mixed into the varnish and then ground to break up any clumps. The colours are spread evenly through the ink.

You can see the amazing ink manufacturing process here, courtesy of The Printing Ink Company.

How are the different colours formed?

Black ink is made from carbon black while white pigments, including titanium dioxide are used alone or to adjust characteristics of coloured inks.

Traditional printers use four colours of ink: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Newer printers often have additional inks, such as light cyan, light magenta, or grey to improve image quality.

Why is printer ink so expensive?

The price of printer ink has been well documented over the years. But you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that buying cheap cartridges will save you money.

Purchasing a printer and buying official ink or toner cartridge replacements is the best way to ensure that your machine lasts longer and operates to the best of its ability. Although this may seem like the more expensive option, it will actually save you money in the long run. To help you manage your spend on ink, check out our handy tips blog post.

Copyright: zoranm

Copyright: zoranm

So now you know how ink and toner cartridges are made! If you need any support on which printer consumable is best for you, don’t hesitate to give our expert team a call.