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What Is Printer Ink Made From?

What Is Printer Ink Made From?

Posted By: John Published: 30/12/2015 Times Read: 132 Comments: 0
Long before the printer, the quill and the ballpoint pen became part of everyday life, ink was very different to the substance we use today.
Tannin from tree bark, blood from shellfish and defensive secretions from cephalopods such as squid and octopus were all used in the development of modern ink. Thankfully, time has moved on, but the question remains: What is ink - specifically printer ink - made from? Read on to find out more...

Printer Ink– What’s In It?

Modern ink can be divided into two distinct classes: printing inks and writing inks. Printing inks differ from writing inks, as they can be further broken into two subclasses: conventional printer ink (used in out-dated impact printing) and ink for non impact, digital printing(such as Inkjet and electrophotography printing).
Although printer ink formulas vary, most contain four main components: colorants, vehicles (or binders), additives and carrier substances. Coloured printer inks comprise linseed and soy bean oil, as well as heavy petroleum distillate, which acts as the vehicle. Organic pigments containing multi ring nitrogen compounds – or dyes to you and I – are used to give the ink its assigned colour.
Black printer ink varies from coloured ink because carbon, rather than organic pigments, is used to give the ink its colour. Both coloured and black inks also contain additives such as lubricants, waxes and surfactants to aid printing and give the ink a specific characteristic.

So What About Toner?

Toner is a powder used mainly in laser printing and photocopying. Like ink, toner has a number of components that are used to form colour and create a specific effect when printing. Toners contain pigments or carbon depending on the given colour, as well as a special plastic resin, which reacts to the electrostatic charge used in laser printing. It’s these resins that give toner the ability to change from a powder to a liquid to a solid during the print process.
In the early days of laser printing, black was the only colour available. Now however, coloured laser printing is available, thanks to new cyan, magenta and yellow toners. Like ink, coloured toner contains pigments and dyes, which can be mixed to create any shade on the colour spectrum.

So there you have it – printer ink, debunked. If you’re interested in purchasing new colour or black cartridges for your printer, Printhead have a range of high-quality compatible ink and toner cartridges that are suitable for a range of machines, including HP, Brother and Epson printers.

To find a compatible cartridge to fit your printer, enter your printer’s manufacturer and model in the search function above or visit the Printhead homepage to find out more about how we can help you save on your printer costs. 


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