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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Inks in Large Format Printing

When printing a wide format job, there are several inks and printing processes that can be used depending on the nature of your project.

Solvent inks

Solvent printing was the first method used in Grand Format printing.  It has excellent performance and affordability but isn’t very eco-friendly; it requires special ventilation to avoid exposure to hazardous fumes from the toxic solvents.  It also requires some time for the ink to dry and fully cure.  Solvent inks produce a very durable, scratch-resistant product, perfect for indoors, or outdoor applications like banners or adhesive graphics.  At Graphics House, we use Solvent ink for all of our mesh banners.

UV inks

A newer method is UV printing, which uses special ink formulated with chemicals that instantly harden when exposed to ultraviolet light.  UV inks are more environmentally friendly; because the ink is immediately dried from the UV lamps, there are virtually no chemicals released into the air and print time is very fast.  UV Printing also uses less ink than other methods because there is very little evaporation and less absorption into the stock.  Another advantage to UV Printing is that UV inks can print onto almost any substrate that can fit through the printer, and the color is very resistant to fading.  UV ink is less conformable to media that stretches such as adhesive vinyl, as the ink will begin to crack if excessively stretched.  UV ink is exceptionally tough and durable, and does not need an over-laminate when being used outdoors the way that latex and solvent inks do.

Latex inks

Latex inks are the most eco-friendly option.  They are water-based, making them non-toxic and non-flammable.  Latex Printers use heat to rapidly cure the ink to the media.  The final print will be very durable, resistant to water, heat, and scratches. It’s also flexible, making it perfect for adhesive prints, outdoor signage, or vehicle wraps.  Latex printing produces high-quality prints with very vibrant color without the environmental hazards of solvent inks.
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