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Everyday pens, your favorite college logo T-shirt, the printer in your home office, or the acrylic painting hanging in your dentist’s office…all of these are popular examples of where ink is used. Bright colors, dark colors, boring colors, and trendy colors – you name it, ink is a part of the equation. Can you imagine our lives without the joys of ink?

davant-child drawing with markers

Let’s just start with the most basic question…

What is Ink, Exactly?

Ink is a liquid or semi-liquid material that is used for drawing, writing, and painting. Its basic ingredients include a colorant, varnishes, and additives.

How is Ink Made?

The technical way to explain it is that ink is manufactured in two stages: first varnish (which is a mixture of solvent, resins, and additives) is made and then pigments are mixed into it. Varnish is a clear liquid that solidifies as a thin film. It binds the pigment to the printed surface, provides the printability of the ink, and wets the pigment particles.

Simply put: Varnish + Pigments = Ink

How is Printer Ink Made?

Printer ink is made in a fashion similar to paint. Colored dyes are added to a liquid base and mixed well. The base ingredient of printer ink is usually oil – either linseed oil, soybean oil, or a petroleum distillate. Carbon black and varnish are combined to make basic black ink. Colored ink is made with dyes/compounds like peacock blue, yellow lake, diarylide orange, and phthalocyanine green. Color shading is adjusted through the addition of white pigments, such as titanium dioxide.

Printer ink contains numerous additives to make it flow properly and adhere to the paper. Other common printer ink ingredients include humectants to keep ink fresh, defoamers to keep out unwanted air bubbles, and biocides and bacteriostats to prevent bacteria and fungi growth. Specialized ingredients give inks shine, depth, and heat or water-resistant properties.

But Why Oh Why is Printer Ink So Expensive?

Part of the reason printer ink is so expensive is so printer manufacturers can recoup some of the losses they incur selling you the printer in the first place. Printers are often sold at or below cost with the idea manufacturers will make more money selling you ink or toner over the life of the printer. This is generally why printers are priced low while ink and toner prices are kept high. Printer ink currently costs about $9,600 per gallon!

What are Different Types of Printer Ink?

Different types of printers and print jobs require different types of ink. As a result, there are several types of printer ink available, giving consumers a wide variety of choices based on what kind of printer they own and what they are planning to print with it.

Toner: Laser printers use toner, which is a powdery substance that is fused to the paper during the printing process.

Pigment-Based: Bonds to the paper somewhat better than dye-based inks, reducing the likelihood that ink will bleed through the paper.

Dye-Based: Provides brighter colors in a wider range, but bleed-through is more common.

Waterproof: This is a popular option because most liquid inks will bleed if the final product becomes wet.

Solid: Blocks of a colored, waxy substance usually made largely of vegetable oils that are melted and applied to the paper during the printing process. This type is said to provide more vibrant colors and very high-quality printing and produces much less waste than traditional ink cartridges with liquid ink.

Fun Facts About Ink

  • A single ballpoint pen can draw a line as long as 4,000 to 7,500 feet.
  • Ink is mostly made from a dark pigment called melanin, which is suspended in thick mucus along with small amounts of other things such as amino acids. Squid ink is blue-black in color, while cuttlefish ink is brown and octopus ink is black. To make ink, squid have special organs called ink glands and ink sacs.
  • 90% of ink made today is made for printing and not for writing.
  • Originally, ink was made from ash or soot, a liquid such as water or oil, and animal gelatin.
  • Ink can cost more than human blood! You read that right – by volume, printer ink is the most expensive fluid in the world, costlier than perfume and French champagne.

Let the Beauty of Ink Kick Your Marketing Up a Notch

There are plenty of ways to utilize ink through print materials for your business, whether it be through the use of postcards, flyers, signs, or promotional products. Davant Indy is here to help every business succeed with its print materials, and we proudly serve the entire Indianapolis, Indiana area. To learn more about our design process and how we can help make your postcards stand out, contact us at (371) 849-6565 today.

Author Davant

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