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Focus On

Ink Technology

From environmental considerations to being able to keep up with short-run demands and quick turnarounds, ink choice is critical. So, what do you need to know to make the right choice?

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Ink inspiration

Simply put, ink is the blood of the print industry. It pumps around printers of all shapes and sizes, producing all sorts of work for customers in a whole host of markets. But as industry professionals will know, when it comes to picking an ink, this process can be both long and quite troublesome.

Do you opt for a greener ink type such as water-based latex inks and deliver a more planet-friendly service to your customers? Or does the project you are working on require a certain type of ink in order to appease the client?

Here, Print Monthly explores some of the latest developments in ink and looks at the tools and products available to print service providers (PSPs) to ensure they are able to deliver high quality, reliable print on every job.

Speed and accuracy

One of the stand-out names in the inks market is Sun Chemical, which supplies a range of ink products to customers all around the world. One of the latest developments at Sun Chemical is SunConnect, a new, complementary solution to SunColorBox, designed for the flexo corrugated printing market.

Sun Chemical announced a number of new developments this year

According to Sun Chemical, SunConnect is an accurate and digital colour communication tool that will enable converters to communicate colour match request and quality control data on press directly from a smartphone, tablet, or desktop. It is an entry-level digital colour management solution giving converters the opportunity to upgrade in future to Sun Chemical’s SunColorBox – a unique set of tools and services that enables consistent and accurate digital colour communication throughout the entire packaging supply chain.

These applications and services, Sun Chemical says, are aimed at supporting packaging printers and converters to produce brand colours consistently, anywhere in the world, within a fully optimised digital process.

The SunConnect Digital Colour Sensor has been developed by Sun Chemical to align with the existing market reference device, ensuring compatibility with its standard colour matching procedures. In addition, the SunConnect app can assist press operators in controlling colour, based on digital data, while helping production managers identify opportunities for improvement and confirm production quality.

O Factoid: Sun Chemical employs more than 22,000 people around the worldO

Mehran Yazdani, president of global packaging materials and advanced materials at Sun Chemical, comments: “We are thrilled to announce the launch of SunConnect for the flexo corrugated printing market and to continue to expand our digital colour management portfolio. We hope that SunConnect can provide a breakthrough for flexo water-based packaging printing companies looking for a user-friendly, entry-level colour management solution.

“SunConnect eliminates the requirement of sending physical swatches back and forth between the customer and colour centre, improving colour accuracy and saving time and costs for both parties. This helps streamline the entire process and results in faster turnaround times for colour match requests.”

Sun Chemical also used the FESPA Global Print Expo to showcase its developments and advancements in a number of other areas, including Streamline TVL 2, the new ink series designed to support the sign, display, and graphics market for use with Roland’s SG2 and VG2 range of eco-solvent inkjet printers.

For superwide-format, Sun Chemical recently launched Streamline APR, formulated for Ricoh Gen 5 printheads and offering all of the advantages as sister product Streamline APY for Kyocera printheads. These include high colour strength, a reduction in ink consumption, and drying benefits.

In addition, SunJet, the global inkjet brand of Sun Chemical and DIC, used FESPA 2022 to showcase its most recent developments in inkjet chemistry, including collaborations with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) partners, system integrators, and printhead manufacturers across a number of market sectors, including graphics, décor, textile, industrial, and packaging.

Making savings

Delving further into the inks market and GMG Color is a developer and provider of high-quality colour management software solutions. Paul Barnes, operations director at GMG, says inks and colour management go hand-in-hand and to get the most out of your inks, as well as ensure you are hitting colour targets accurately, PSPs need to consider the type of software they are running.

“With the rise of ink and material costs, savings are made from day one when investing in ink optimisation software,” Barnes says, adding: “Ink optimisation works by replacing expensive colour inks with black ink, but as well as cutting ink costs, there are less rejects from streaking and mottling. Increased speed is achieved through quicker drying time and workload is reduced by up to a third on inkjet heads, meaning significantly less wear and downtime.

With the rise of ink and material costs, savings are made from day one when investing in ink optimisation softwar}

“The cost savings achieved from ink optimisation depend on a number of factors. The higher the ratio of image to text in your file, and the more colours used, the more you could save. The substrate used will also have an impact, as uncoated substrates absorb more ink, so the savings can be high here.”

So, what are the dangers of not paying enough attention to colour management software? What risks do PSPs run by not investing in and running quality software? Barnes simply says that if colour quality is important, then print businesses should look for a solution that both increases the levels of black ink and standardises the colour composition of PDF files.

With this, he highlights GMG InkOptimizer, which uses a print company’s existing RIP technology and applies GMG’s specially developed MX technology to ensure the colours that they are aiming for can be hit, and that they can be achieved next time you print through precise re-calibration.