Aqueous or water based inks come in two versions: dye and pigment. The term “aqueous” or “water based” refers to the carrier solution that is used in the ink to hold the dye or pigments. Major wide format brands such as Canon, Epson and HP use these inks in their technical (CAD), photo and graphics printers. Historically dye based inks had a wider colour gamut than pigmented inks. However, in recent times a lot of research and development has gone into the ink technology to close the gap, as the pigment based inks have significant advantages in terms of fade resistance (UV stability). Aqueous ink technology requires that the print media is coated with a special ink receptor coating to accept and hold the ink. Without this coating, the inks will tend to bleed and will be slow to dry as the water based carrier solution evaporates out of the media leaving behind the residual dye or pigment particles.
All of our aqueous media is compatible with both dye and pigmented inks used in the major brands of printers.
There are two types of dye sublimation technology: direct and transfer.
Direct sublimation technology means that the inks can be printed directly onto the textile substrate. These inks are essentially a formulation of special coloured dyes suspended in a carrier solution which may be either water or solvent based.
In transfer dye sublimation technology, prints are made on a transfer material (generally paper based) and then transferred onto a polyester textile using a heat press and calendaring process.
The pigments of an Eco-Solvent ink are suspended in a carrier solution that usually contains glycol esters or glycol ether esters. They have similar properties to Solvent inks in terms of being waterproof and suitable for outdoor applications. However, they have little or no odor and do not contain harmful ingredients (such as cyclopean).
Eco-solvent inks are intended for use in enclosed spaces without specialized ventilation of the printing area. Eco-Solvent inks dry fast and offer a wide colour gamut, scratch resistance, broad support for uncoated and coated media and can last up to three years outdoors. Many of the Eco-Solvent inks available at DES meet the GREENGUARD Gold Certification for low chemical emissions including Roland’s Eco-Sol MAX Inks and Seiko's Eco-Solvent SX Inks.
Because Eco-Solvent inks do not have the same aggressive etching properties as a true solvent ink, some media needs to be coated to enhance adhesion of pigments.
HP Indigo printers use a liquid electrostatic ink that is transferred to a heated blanket before being printed on a substrate. Media with the Indigo icon is suitable for use in HP Indigo presses.
Latex inks, also known as resin inks, use a type of polymer to encapsulate pigments. The pigments are suspended in a water based carrier solution. Heat is then used to evaporate the water away and to activate the polymers to bind the pigments to the media.
Many types of media need to have a special coating to assist the polymers to bind to the surface of the media.
This media is suitable for, technical drawing pens or regular felt tipped pens and pencils in either a pen plotter or free hand.
The coloured pigments of a Solvent based ink are suspended in a petroleum or petroleum by-product carrier solution. The solvents allow printing on some uncoated media by softening the base material and allowing the pigments to mechanically bind onto the chemically etched surface. Solvent inks give off strong odors when drying as the carrier fluid evaporates through applied heat from the printer’s platen. There are various grades of Solvent ink from true or hard Solvent to mild Solvent and down to Eco Solvent. The fume and odor levels decrease accordingly, so does the surface etch of the base material.
The resulting prints are waterproof and durable making them suitable for outdoor applications.
Toner is the dry powder used in laser and LED printers. In its early form, Toner was a mix of carbon powder and iron oxide but has since been developed to improve the quality of the printout by mixing the carbon with a polymer. Toner particles are melted via heat so they are bonded to the paper.
The media used in a toner printer does not have to be coated but may be surface treated to achieve a smooth gloss or satin finish. However, the media does need to have a controlled, low moisture and low dust content as well as being able to withstand the heat in the fusing process.
UV curable inks are pigment-based ink that is cured onto a substrate through exposure to UV light. UV curable inks dry as soon as they are cured so smudging will not be an issue. They can be applied to a wide range of uncoated substrates. They are often used in large flatbed printers, which print directly to rigid substrates such as plastic, wood or aluminum where flexibility is not a concern. UV inks enable printers to run at higher speeds and prints are outdoor durable. Durability can be further enhanced with special laminates or protective clear coats.