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How Is Printer Ink Made?

Rainbow of Acrylic Ink in Water. Colour Explosion

What is printer ink made of?

Ink is a liquid or paste that contains pigments or dyes. Pigments give ink its colour and they can come from a variety of sources containing nitrogen compounds – commonly known as dyes. In printers, ink is used to produce copies of digital text or images.

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

How is printer ink made?

Ink is made with a combination of ingredients including varnish, resin, solvents, pigments, and additives including waxes and lubricants. Black ink is made using carbon black pigments, and white pigments like titanium dioxide can be used to lighten other ink colours.

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 homogenous mixture.

Resins, which bind the ink ingredients together, react with each other and make the varnish more viscous. Pigments are then mixed into the varnish and ground down to break up any clumps so that 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?

Different coloured pigments are used to create different ink colours. Black and white ink are made from carbon black and titanium dioxide, accordingly, and they can be used by themselves or with other pigments to alter their colour.

Traditional printers use four main colours of ink: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. These colours, when mixed together in different proportions, can make the whole spectrum of colours that is needed to print in full colour.

Newer printers also often have additional inks, such as light cyan, light magenta, or grey, to improve image quality and accuracy of colour reproduction.

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. Learning how to get the most out of your ink cartridges will help you to manage the money that you spend on ink.

Copyright: Piotr Adamowicz

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 spray tiny drops of ink through miniscule nozzles onto paper to create a copy of digital documents or images

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.

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 on 0800 840 1992.