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Ink Technology

Whether you are running OEM inks or opting for products from a third party, your selection of ink is key to the final printed output. We speak with suppliers of both ink types to find out more about the latest options on the market

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The Compatibilty Quest

Ploughing tens of thousands of pounds into a printer is all well and good, but if the materials you are working with are not up to task, then you will almost certainly not be getting the most out of your equipment.

The good news for print service providers (PSPs) is that there is a huge array of inks available to them. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) inks can be supplied directly by the manufacturer while third-party inks come in from other providers, with each range covering everything from solvent and eco-solvent to UV and latex.

Here, Print Monthly takes a closer look at some of the latest options in OEM and third-party inks and finds out more about the products proving most popular with companies across the UK market.

Compatibility Is Essential

First up is Nazdar Ink Technologies, which, based in Kansas in the US, provides a wide range of ink products to customers around the world. Its portfolio includes digital inkjet, screen, and narrow web printing inks and chemical products, with each of these going through an intense development and testing process to ensure they offer print companies a reliable solution.

Nazdar offers a wide range of ink products across digital inkjet, screen, and narrow web printing

Bruce Ridge, director of technical service at Nazdar, says quality is most likely assumed when buying inks from most manufacturers and is very difficult to quantify until you have an actual product problem. He explains that among the core challenge for printers is the availability of ink products, given the shortages we experienced in the last couple of years.

Ridge also picks out compatibility as a key consideration for printers and the question of whether your inks will work well with your printer. He explains: “If we are talking about inkjet inks, compatibility is essential due to the damage incompatible inks may cause to your printer. This is not as critical for screen or flexo printers. 
“When it comes to determining an ink type once you have decided which ink manufacturer to use, I would recommend using the SAFE criteria which determines which ink to use in this order: substrate, applications, finishing, and end-use. Then after all that, pricing would be the next consideration.”

I would recommend using the SAFE criteria to determine which ink to use in this order: substrate, applications, finishing, and end-use

As to how to go about identifying reliable ink products that you can depend on, Ridge says one way of doing this is considering the warranty on offer from the manufacturer. Using inkjet as an example, he says print companies in this area should be looking to an ink manufacturer with a comprehensive ink warranty that outlines what to expect in support, should a product failure require machine service or repairs.

This, he explains, can be evaluated prior to switching inks in warranty documents provided to support the inks, adding that any established ink manufacturer should provide prompt comprehensive technical support.

“Ink manufacturers design inks around specific market requirements,” Ridge says, adding: “Those market requirements almost always dictate the raw materials used in the inks to achieve certain end-use functions such as flexibility, durability, and chemical resistance. These factors will affect the costs of the inks.

“High-cost end-use products will require the use of high-cost, high-quality inks. Supply chain issues and availability are not usually related to the quality of an ink. Printhead issues associated with an ink is usually a quality-related issue and needs to be carefully considered when changing from and to OEM ink. Third-party ink manufacturers like Nazdar demonstrate the support of their products with an Inkjet warranty programme.  

“Nazdar has a history of industry leadership beginning with the introduction of the first commercial screen printing ink in 1922 and continuing to develop quality inks for the screen, inkjet, and flexo printing processes. This goes beyond the manufacturing of quality products to include a long history of providing product support, innovation, and industry association education.”

A Key Element

Elsewhere and another diversified supplier is Pulse Roll Label Products, which offers a range of ink, varnish, and coating solutions for the global label and packaging printing industry. Gary Seward, managing director at Pulse Roll Label Products, describes ink as the key element that transforms labels and packaging into a visually appealing sales tool. As such, printers need to select their ink carefully.