- Whenever possible, most printers choose a single ink brand or manufacturer for all the work they do, and even for the different types of work they do. Aside from simplifying the ordering process, the reason for this is that printers come to know what to expect from a given brand. Press operators have learned what adjustments may be necessary to get the same results from the ink, even when used on different presses. It is best if a single ink supplier can provide a range of inks, for example offset, UV, inkjet, and varnish.
- Printers should demand a reliable consistency in ink color strength and other properties from their supplier. Because ink manufacturers now purchase ink pigments and other components from sources that may be based all around the world, the quality of these basic ink elements can vary. Look for an ink manufacturer that carefully maintains production standards and processes to ensure consistent quality from batch to batch and can to can.
- To accommodate one of the key variables inherent in every offset job, an offset ink should offer a wide ink/fountain solution window on the most commonly used substrates. This will go a long way toward saving the time required to come up to color, even on different presses and different jobs, will help reduce waste, and will ensure consistent quality throughout the print run.
- The pressroom environment should be controlled in terms of heat and humidity. Heat affects the rate at which an offset ink sets or dries on the substrate, and press operators generally adjust the ink and fountain solution to accommodate as the press runs and heats up. However, the temperature of the pressroom environment can also be a factor and should be monitored. Similarly, ambient humidity affects ink performance as it interacts with the substrate. Humidity also can have a major impact on paper stocks and other absorptive substrates, and this, too, alters ink film lay-down and drying.
- Ink that stays open on press helps to reduce production time and waste by eliminating the need for wash-ups and replenishment of the ink fountains between jobs or even between work shifts.
- To meet particular job specifications, ensure that the ink used accepts, for example, aqueous coating, UV coating, foil stamping, laser imprinting, laminates, etc. This requires a combination of pigments that are resistant to alcohols, amines, and UV monomers; varnishes that have surface tensions that allow for good adhesion; and additives that do not interfere with the transfer or lay-down of coatings or stamps. If the end use of the application necessitates special pigments or varnishes, your ink supplier should be able to produce an ink that is formulated for special situations, including detergent or soap resistance, direct contact with food, or reduced solvent percentages, to name a few.
Versatile Ink Supports Efficiency
Many ink manufacturers, seeking to keep pace with the new technologies and techniques employed in the printing industry, have offered a wide range of ink options. But these options often are intended to work well on a particular type of press or to achieve a particular end result. Finding an ink and/or ink supplier that can accommodate the broadest range of print applications is one of the most effective ways to support pressroom efficiency and productivity.
As you know, every print job is a custom job. Analyzing the specific requirements of every job along with testing new ink products and substrates on the press will lead to the best—and most profitable—results. PN
Joe Bendowski is CEO of Van Son Holland Ink Corporation of America (www.vansonink.com), a leading global printing ink manufacturer known around the world for producing high-quality, high-performance inks. He can be reached at email@example.com.