Wed. May 3, 2017 in The Basics

Printable vinyl allows for the creation of multi-colored designs that are too complex to create with your regular HTV. If you’re looking to expand your business, the use of printable vinyl can be very helpful. All of our printable vinyls are compatible with solvent and eco-solvent printers. Also, nearly all of them are compatible with HP latex printers. How do these printers work? Here, we break down the differences between solvent, eco-solvent and latex inks.


 

Solvent Inks

The process of solvent printing involves mixing pigment and a solvent together to create a liquid ink. Specifically, the solvent refers to the oil-based solution that holds the pigment. The heat of the printer evaporates the solvent solution, leaving behind a hard layer of pigment that forms the desired design. Solvent ink can print on many different uncoated materials. Solvent ink has the advantage of typically being fade-resistant, waterproof and resistant to wear for 5 years or more. That being said, it is excellent for maintaining long-term durability.

Please note that solvents for printing are extremely toxic, therefore strict and adequate ventilation is absolutely necessary when using these inks.  Additionally, it does not take much heat for the solvent to evaporate, meaning the ink dries relatively fast. In this case, a print head (the “nozzles” or the part of the printer that disperses the ink) using solvent ink can easily be clogged. Regular maintenance and cleaning are mandatory to keep a solvent ink printer running well. Letting a solvent printer sit around for a few days without maintenance is not ideal, and will likely result in the printer needing a new print head. Overall, in comparison to eco-solvent ink, solvent inks are relatively low cost and very effective.

 

Eco-Solvent inks

The process of eco-solvent printing also involves mixing pigment and a solvent together to create a liquid ink. However, the solvent solution in eco-solvent ink comes from ether extracts taken from refined mineral oil. Eco-solvent inks were developed in response to the demand for more user-friendly inks than the original “strong” or “aggressive” solvent inks. As a result, in comparison to solvent inks, these inks are less toxic and are even usable in office environments as long as there is adequate (yet minimal) ventilation. The durability is also not as good as a solvent ink. Eco-solvent inks are fade-resistant, waterproof and resistant to wear, but only for about two to three years.

Eco-solvent ink can print on many uncoated materials, but it takes longer to dry out than solvent ink. This results in the maintenance of an eco-solvent printer being less time consuming than a solvent printer, as they affect the print heads less aggressively than solvent inks do. Typically, once-a-week maintenance is sufficient to maintain a printer using this ink. Overall, eco-solvent inks are more expensive than stronger solvent inks, which is especially important to keep in mind for you high-volume users.

 

Latex inks

The process of latex printing, just like solvent and eco-solvent printing, involves mixing pigment and a solvent together to create a liquid ink. However, the solvent solution in latex ink is a water-based solution rather than an oil. Basically, plastic-like particles of pigment are suspended in a water-based solution and the heat of the printer evaporates the water, leaving behind only the pigments. In this case, they are very user-friendly and  reduce the impact of printing on the environment. For specific information on HP latex printing, visit:  http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press_kits/2011/HPLatexSummit/LatexTechnology.pdf