Ink - What is ink?
A printing consumable; inks are used to form a printed image on a substrate. They can be liquid inks (fluid and watery) or paste inks (thick and tacky), and contain three substances; a vehicle (the fluid that carries the pigment or dye), a pigment or dye (the colourant that determines the colour of the ink), and additives, such as driers (to make the ink dry faster) and bodying agents (to increase viscosity), which determine key properties of an ink, including its tack, flow, permanency, and opacity.
Pigment inks are the most common type of ink, as they offer better colour-fastness (retention of colour) than dyes. Dyes are cheaper, stronger, more consistent in colour, offer a larger range of colour, and can be mixed with other substances to enhance their intensity and appearance. However, as they are dissolved in a liquid, they have a tendency to soak in to the substrate (reducing the print quality) and are also subject to bleed. Most standard inks are aqueous (water-based) inks that use water as the vehicle and dyes as their colourant, which means that they produce print that is not waterproof and may also run or smudge if the printed item is handled a lot.
Inks can be used in a range of printing processes and are usually specially formulated to suit the conditions and requirements of a particular process. Inks are deposited onto a substrate and then left to dry, although the drying process may be sped up using heat or light to cure the ink more efficiently.Go Back to Glossary