With rigorous development, the printing industry has seen some marvelous inventions and advancements lately. With increased print technology, the industry has provided a significant array of value-added applications and add-ins to its users. One such technology is the popularity of aqueous inkjet in the printing industry.  

Are Print Service Providers (PSPs) aware of innovation in the present print market? Well, the response to that question can determine their capability of expanding the business. Factors that impact a buyer's decisions include the printer's price, durability, color quality, and ink coverage. 

Rise of aqueous inkjet in commercial digital printing

Although UV technology is currently dominating the inkjet printing market, the use of aqueous ink is gradually increasing. One reason behind this increasing trend is toxicity concerns. Unlike UV inkjet ink, aqueous ink has no toxicity, due to which it has become popular among users. 

The article provides a brief overview of the inkjet printing market and throws light on the future of aqueous technologies. 

Key ink technologies

Before we proceed any further, the following are some of the basic types of ink used for printing. 

1. Waterbased/ Aqueous Ink

This ink is mostly used in fine arts and photo-quality products. In this technology, water carries the colorant in ink, which comprises small particles. There are two major types of aqueous ink: 

  1. Dye Ink: Dye inks produce more detailed images with smooth undertones and catching colors. These are mainly used indoors as they are not water or UV-light-resistant. 
  2. Pigment Ink: Pigment ink has slightly bigger particles and is more stable in UV light, and is water-resistant. The ink can settle into different substrates like paper, canvas, etc. Some of its possible applications are window displays, posters, pop-ups, etc.

Dye-based inks are usually used in inkjet printers on commercial levels and in households. Top printer manufacturers such as Xerox Abu Dhabi company make these inks with colorants that suspend in the liquid and give vibrant and sharp print quality. 

2. Solvent Ink

From the visual to outdoor communication market, solvent inks are the most detailed oriented ink with a good covering in the print market. Despite various environmental and health concerns, solvent ink has an established position in the print market due to its affordability and performance. These dissolvable inks are UV light, scratch, and water-resistant without requiring successive fixtures. These inks should be used with caution. 

3. UV Ink

UV inks are mainly utilized for indoor applications, for example, banners, window designs, and signage. These inks are mostly used in commercial printing because they can print on flexible and rigid materials. Some materials you can print on are glass, wood, foam, aluminum, and other substrates. The ink provides a protective coat of color to the material and protects it with a durable film. 

Difference between Aqueous and UV Coatings 

Aqueous coating with more than 60% water has to be evaporated or given time to absorb into the material. This allows the inks' solid particles to make a thin, dry film on the substrate. UV Coatings, on the other hand, are made from 100% solid components that instantly dry up by exposure to intense ultraviolet light. The process turns liquids into solids instantly, forming a tough, dry film. 

Aqueous coatings generally offer a decent rub and block resistance. Some particular types of inks also provide grease and moisture resistance. The UV coatings, however, provide far better abrasion and chemical resistance. 

Environmental effects

Aqueous inkjet offers clean air, zero alcohol, low odor, non-flammable, non-toxic, and non-polluting properties. On the other hand, UV ink contains reactive components that have a sharp odor and can serve as slight irritants causing allergic reactions in some people. 

Dried aqueous coatings are recyclable and biodegradable. On the other hand, UV inks are recyclable but slower to biodegrade. There are many companies in the print industry that are dedicated to sustainability and producing the best business printers and other consumables. Aqueous coatings conform to FDA regulations for food contact, but UV coatings do not. 

Future of Aqueous Inkjet.

Label printing is, by far, one of the most prominent digital printing applications in the packaging market. For about the past 15 years, the UV inkjet system has dominated the industry, but now, production-level aqueous inkjets are making their way to the big production markets. Apart from label printing, aqueous inkjet is showing up in main direct package printing applications. 

Aqueous ink is starting to increase in the digital print market. Its steady growth in the overall packaging market helps meet the market’s basic needs for mass customization and operational efficiency. 

Today’s market indicates that aqueous inkjet will contribute more and more in the years ahead. 

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