Avery Dennison Digital Ink Solutions Blog / 3 Reasons Why Formulating & Producing Digital Inks is Difficult

3 Reasons Why Formulating & Producing Digital Inks is Difficult

Our digital ink solutions specialist explains the difficulties behind formulating and producing digital inks: reducing particle size, jetting sustainability and passing long term sustainability testing in the packaging.

Adam Tourville, Senior Account Manager at Avery Dennison Digital Solutions, travels the world working with OEM printer manufacturers and industrial Inkjet integrators developing custom inkjet ink solutions. In February, he explained to industry’s leaders at the IMI Conference why formulating and producing today’s digital inkjet inks is so difficult.

To start, each printhead has it own specification and unique set of characteristics. “The typical challenge is reducing particle size - getting the ink thin enough for consistent jetting performance in the head, and still offer excellent adhesion, abrasion resistance, flexibility or rigidity depending on the planned substrate. And I can think of ten popular printhead manufacturers producing forty to fifty different heads that we have to solve this problem for.”

The second reason is jetting sustainability. The ink must continuously print for hours without dropping out or causing overspray. And, Tourville also explains, “any new component or ink that will be used must be soaked in a material compatibility kit from the printhead manufacturer. This way we know that we have achieved material sustainability with the internal components of the printhead, knowing it will not degrade due to the ink formulation being too aggressive on the parts. And each of the technologies we work with, including full-solvent, eco-solvent, bio-solvent, UV-curable, LED-curable, water-based and hybrid inks, present their own set of challenges.”

digital ink solutions

Finally, all new ink formulations must pass long term sustainability testing in the packaging, since shelf life ranges from 12 to 24 months. “Some issues that we solve for include pigment dropout, acid attack on the pigment, viscosity rise or drop, curing in the packaging, dissolved oxygen, pigment sedation and conglomeration," added Tourville.

Tourville also had an opportunity to discuss the impact of industry trends on their formulation strategies, particularly in the area of environmental impact and the changing government regulations. Agencies around the world continue to restrict the materials that can be used in inkjet inks. “It’s an added challenge to stay abreast of changing regulations, and we often see the list of possible materials that can be used becoming smaller.” In addition to government regulation, a growing trend is the adoption of restricted substance lists (RSL’s) by private industry as a way to make sure their products are safe. “It basically means that the list of materials we can use keeps getting smaller, but it forces us to make better safer products,” added Tourville.

Tourville wrapped up his presentation with his outlook on a new trend towards hybrid inks. “The thought around hybrid inks tends to be mostly water-based. Because water is cheap, plentiful, environmentally friendly, it’s an obvious choice to be used with other technologies. Water-based resin and water-based UV or LED tend to be the popular choices for our customers, and our technology capabilities in this area will continue to create many exciting opportunities.”

Avery Dennison Digital Inks Solutions, acquired Ink Mill Corporation in 2016. For more information on custom digital ink formulations, please visit us on web, or click here to be contacted for assistance.


To learn more about Avery Dennison Digital Ink Solutions, visit www.inks.averydennison.com.

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