The Technology Behind Developing Printer Ink

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You probably use your printer almost every day, but have you ever given much thought to how it works? Modern printers are pretty remarkable devices that are capable of performing a multitude of tasks and generating output that rivals the quality produced by commercial print shops. Even the ink that we put in our printers is quite remarkable. Over the course of the past few decades, printer ink has undergone numerous changes and has become quite technologically advanced. Let’s take a closer look at the technology behind developing printer ink.

What Is Printer Ink, and How Does it Differ from Toner?

Let’s start with the basics. Printer ink is a liquid that is used in inkjet printers. It is carefully formulated to ensure high-quality printing on various types of paper. Printer ink is essentially sprayed onto the paper by the printer in a controlled manner. While ink is used in inkjet printers, toner is used in laser printers. It is not a liquid but rather a fine powder made from polyester. When you print using a laser printer, an electrostatic template of your page is created on an electrically charged metal drum. The toner is dispensed onto the drum, but it only sticks where the laser has changed the drum’s charge.

How is Printer Ink Made?

Different ink manufacturers have different processes and formulas for creating their products. These processes and formulas are propriety information and are not disclosed to the public. However, there are a few general steps that go into manufacturing printer ink. A clear liquid known as varnish serves as the base for all types of ink. There are different types of varnish, though, that are used for different applications. The varnish is made by combining resins, solvents, and additives. The resins bond the other ingredients in the ink together to create a more viscous liquid.

printer ink bottles isolated

Pigments must be mixed into the varnish to create various ink colors. A pigment known as carbon black is used to create black ink. Color pigments are made of salts and organic compounds or dyes such as yellow lake, peacock blue, diarylide orange, and phthalocyanine green. Inorganic compounds, including Prussian blue, chrome green, cadmium yellow, and molybdate orange, are also sometimes used. Titanium dioxide is a white pigment that is either used on its own or to modify the opacity and other characteristics of colored inks. After the pigments have been mixed into the varnish, they are ground up to remove any clumps and ensure that they are spread out evenly.

Ink Additives

Different manufacturers use different ink additives. This allows them to create unique formulations that provide various benefits to users of their products. These additives are mixed into the varnish before the pigments are added. Common additions include drying agents that allow printed documents to dry faster, waxes to promote rub-off resistance, and lubricants. Some brands also add ingredients that help control solubility and viscosity to prevent the ink from becoming too thick.

How Inkjet Cartridges Are Made

The cartridges that hold printer ink are pretty high-tech, too. They usually consist of two main components—the body and the printhead. The body contains the ink and the printhead transfers it to the paper during the printing process. The printheads of ink cartridges have varying numbers of nozzles depending on the brand. The overall design of an inkjet cartridge varies significantly from one brand to another as each is designed to work optimally in a specific device. That’s why you can’t use, say, an HP inkjet cartridge in a Lexmark printer. This is also why different printers from the same brand require different ink cartridges.

What Is Printer Ink So Expensive?

There’s no denying that printer ink is expensive. In fact, it is one of the most expensive liquids you can buy. The engineering process that goes into developing printer ink is extensive, though, and the pigments and other raw materials used are not cheap. Modern inkjet printers fire thousands of drops of ink per second, and they do it with incredible accuracy. Ink may seem expensive, but, when you consider how much technology goes into making those little cartridges, it’s easy to understand why it comes with a large price tag.

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Fortunately, there are ways to save on inkjet cartridges. At Ink Jet Super Store, we have generic and remanufactured ink for all of the best printers on the market, and we strive to keep our prices as affordable as possible. Use our Ink & Toner Finder today to find the perfect ink for your printer!