Inks – Know The Options


There are a number of different ink types used in wide format printing today. While they all ultimately perform the same task, each solution has a diverse list of strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the types of ink available, and why these methods exist will help you (as an end user) to determine the most appropriate ink for your company’s next printing project.

Aqueous Inks:
Aqueous or Water based inks come in two varieties: dye and pigment. These are often confusingly referred to as Dye and UV.

  1. a) Dye inks have great image quality and bright punchy colours, however, they are not waterproof and fade in UV light. Therefore, they are primarily used for short run promotional work, and portable indoor displays such as roller and pop up stands. Use where image quality and striking colour are critical & application is suitable.

    b) Pigment (UV) inks have a good image quality, but a slightly muted colour response. However, compared to Dye inks they are short term waterproof and most importantly the pigment inks are stable in UV light. Used primarily for window displays, short term outdoor work or longer term promotional work.

Solvent Inks:
Solvent inks contain pigments rather than dyes, but unlike the water-based version, solvent inks are made from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The main advantage of solvent inks is that they are comparatively inexpensive and enable printing on vehicle graphics, billboards, banners and adhesive decals. Although, solvent inks boast excellent durability – because they are waterproof and UV safe – there are significant impacts to the environment that need to be considered.

Latex Inks:
Latex Ink is said to offer equal or improved performance compared to solvent ink for printing on PVC (vinyl), as well as printing onto paper, fabrics, polyester and polyethylene – substrates that solvent technology struggles with. The output is odourless, making it suitable for a range of indoor applications that solvent machines aren’t suitable for.

Dye Sublimation Inks:
There are two types of dye sublimation inks available in the market: aqueous and solvent dye sublimation.

  • Aqueous dye sublimation ink is the most popular of the two and is used in both desktop and large format printers.
  • Solvent dye sublimation ink can be used in wide format printers technology as well. Solvent ink technology is detrimental to the environment.

Sitemax support the use of Latex inks over Solvent inks within our manufacturing processes because the benefits of Latex inks far outweigh the costs to the environment caused by Solvent inks. With Sitemax “Providing a Positive Impact on the Environment”, please contact us today to discuss how we can provide a better solution for your next project.