Different Types Of Printer Ink

The ink inside the printer brings out all the beauty in your printouts! The greater the quality of your ink, the more eye-catching your output will be!

But, do all printers use the same ink? No, there are various types of inks that printers use. Different inks come with their advantages and are suitable for different purposes. The usability of the ink depends on the printing process, the type of the printer, and at times, the brand of the printer.

Different Printing Processes And The Inks They Use

There are various types of printing processes that work at their optimal levels with the correct type of inks. The wrong kind of inks may lead to improper printing as well as machine malfunction.

Offset Printing

Offset printing is used for fast printing of large volumes of newspapers, brochures, magazines, and posters. Offset printers can print at thousands of pages in a matter of minutes! It’s also known as Lithography offset printing and uses special types of ink with different properties.

Components of Offset Printing Inks

Offset printer inks consists of three important elements which determine the properties and uses of the inks.


The component of the ink that carries the pigment to any surface is the vehicle element of the ink. It depends on the method used by the ink to dry, like absorption, oxidation, evaporation, and many more.

For example, inks that dry by evaporation have solvent-resin vehicles of low boiling point.


Pigment is the element of the ink that you see; the color, shine, and quality- all of these are dependent on the pigment. Black pigments generally produce the black color, while white pigments offer transparency and cloudiness along with white color.

Color pigments are readily available, and are made from extracts of chromes and cadmiums, or derivatives of coal tar.

Metallic pigments exist as well, which gives a very shiny touch to the printed photos.


Modifiers are used with printing ink to make them more perfect for the purpose they’ll be used for. Driers are added to make inks dry faster, and Lubricants and Grease are added to make the inks less sticky and uniformly distributable. There are various types of additives that help to modify the ink properties.

Digital Printing

Even though digital printing doesn’t produce huge volumes of output in seconds, it delivers printouts of excellent quality in a short time and reduces wastage.

Laser Printers

Laser printers use a toner cartridge as ink. Toner is a substance consisting of 85-95% plastic powder and 5-15% pigments.The toner cartridge comes with drums and rollers.

The toner gets attached to the drum which becomes electrically-charged after command is given. It’s transferred by the drum to the paper and then merged with the paper using movement of the heated rollers.

The toner ink has high longevity and deliver the best and clearest black-and-white output. However, toners can also do color print, if proper color pigments are added with the toner powder.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers use hundreds of tiny nozzles or ink guns that sprays minute droplets of ink onto the paper accordingly to print characters. There are differences in the nozzle technologies; one uses piezo crystals and pressure, the other uses heat and electricity to push the ink onto the paper.

These printers can work with various types of inks, which are fit for certain purposes and come with their own advantages.

Types Of Inks That Inkjet Printers Use

Aqueous Inks

As the name suggests, aqueous inks use water as their pigment-carrying medium. Aqueous inks come with two variations: the dye-based ink and the UV ink.

1. In the dye-based ink, colorful dyes are mixed with water, and during the printing processes, the evaporation of the water gives the color of the dye. The printouts need to be kept to dry, as the dye can smudge, but makes pictures look very bright, and are perfect for inkjet printers for homes and offices.

2. In UV inks, chalk-like elements are carried by water, and give the same colorful effects by the evaporation of water. The colors will last much longer since they’re UV-resistant, but less vibrant.

Solvent Inks

These inks are the same as dye-based inks, but uses organic compounds, instead of water as the carrier. The organic compounds evaporate very quickly but merges the colorants into the paper firmly, making the prints much more durable. Along with vivid, brilliant colors, these ink are water-resistant and UV-resistant.

UV-Curable Inks

UV-curable inks are compatible with almost all surfaces out there while producing very bright colors. These inks are also have good longevity as they are made of monomers and oligomers, cross-linked together by UV rays of the sunlight and high temperature.

Although they’re very expensive, the UV-Cured inks also dry up almost instantly.

Latex Inks

Latex inks are widely known for their adaptability with surfaces, which the dye-based inks can’t attach to properly, like the vinyl surfaces. Although they are not entirely green, they don’t produce any toxic gases or chemicals.

Hybrid inks

Almost all types of inks have at least one drawback. Hybrid inks haven’t been produced at their best yet, but they’re supposed to be the combination of the best features of other inkjet-printable inks.

For example, the bright colors of the aqueous inks would be excellent if they could dry up instantly and be as durable as the UV-Curable inks.

Dye-Sublimation Printers

Dye-Sublimation printers use specially-manufactured sublimation dyes with liquid gel inks as solvents for creating outstanding and vibrant printouts.

These inks deliver pictures of better quality compared to other digital printing technologies, and they give off continuous tones, making the pictures look lifelike. Dye-Sublimation inks are also dried up and ready-for-use right after being printed.

Final Word

Without high-quality inks, printouts of the quality we get today would be unimaginable.

Manufacturers are focusing on making the inks as durable as possible, while making sure it doesn’t lose its quality and shine. The ink technology is upgrading with the world, and new variations of inks are invented every day.

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