How ink is made?

Published January 25, 2012
Last Updated August 1, 2019
Jask Creative

Three major  ingredients contribute to ink:

  • Pigment which is the colouring material contained in ink.
  • Vehicle which is the liquid that holds the particles of pigment; and
  • Modifiers who manage the drying of ink as well as other factors including smell, scuff resistance and fading.

Pigment

Printing inks contain two types of fundamental pigment. First you have organic pigment which is constructed entirely from carbon and mainly used for the creation of black ink. Secondly you have inorganic pigments which are made by mixing various chemical substances together and are mainly used for coloured inks.

Vehicle

Not a car but more the liquid that holds together the particles of pigment while transporting them to the paper. Offset inks use two kinds of vehicles – oils such as soya oils and synthetic vehicles which are liquids formed from mixing chemicals. An example would be the mixture of phenol and formaldehyde which creates a phenolic resin which is sometimes used in printing inks.

Modifiers

These are substances which are added to the ink to control the drying, the smell and adds protection to prevent the ink fading.

Depending on the vehicle system used, viewable properties of inks are a function of the colourants or pigments. Properties include colour transparency or opacity and gloss. Currently the most often used colour is black then follows cyan, magenta and yellow which are colours we are familiar with and are the colours which are used to create the millions of different colour combinations we see in printed material.

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