Demand drives new products and refinements, as ink producers court expanded opportunities.
John Kaiser with Fujifilm believes print providers look to his company for inks that meet their needs for consistency, versatility, and durability for outdoor and specialty applications. “Inks that change in viscosity and color or lack batch-to-batch consistency wreak havoc with profiles and slow down print production. Ink adhesion to a broad range of substrates and flexible inks are desired, especially when post-print finishing on routers and cutters. Digital inks need to perform in a wide variety of applications, and digital ink formulations continue to strive for the widest adhesion and optimum performance for the intended application.”
Another challenge to digital, says Kaiser, is demand for a broad color gamut using a CMYK inkset. “Pigment selection is critical with regard to tone and clarity to achieve the unique ‘corporate’ colors demanded by end users,” he explains.
With so many options in wide format, says HP’s Eyal Dusy, “It’s important to evaluate ink’s end-to-end performance to determine which ink will work best for you and your particular applications,” when evaluating print systems.
Tomas Martin, also with HP, agrees that print applications should determine which inks – and corresponding printers – are the best investment. “For indoor applications where distance viewing is typically below one meter, image quality and an odorless print are the most important requirements,” he says. “For outdoor applications, the ability to withstand weather and pollution is critical to the value of the application.” It’s the ink, as a key component of any print system, which sets those parameters, he points out: “In general, the printer’s ability to handle a broad range of materials allows customers to maximize the number of potential applications they can offer in terms of cost, types of material, finishing, and installation options,” he says.
Mark Radogna, group product manager with Epson’s professional imaging division, says the company’s new SureColor printer inks, available in UltraChrome GS2 and UltraChrome GSX inksets, deliver some breakthrough advances for greener, almost odorless inks without compromising image quality or durability. “Our engineers found a way to dramatically reduce the VOCs for an ink that is much more environmentally friendly,” says Radogna. “We also made a new yellow ink, while completely removing nickel from our chemistry, for a yellow with dramatic outdoor durability for up to three years, even without laminating.”