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Ink & Pigments

What is printer ink made of?

Ink is a liquid or paste that contains pigments or dyes. Pigments give ink its colour and they can come from a variety of sources containing nitrogen compounds – commonly known as dyes. Over 90% of inks that are produced are printing inks, in which colour is imparted by pigments rather than the dyes used in writing inks.

Ink is made with a combination of ingredients including varnish, resin, solvents, pigments, and additives including waxes and lubricants. Black ink is made using carbon black pigments, and white pigments like titanium dioxide can be used to lighten other ink colours.

Varnish is a clear liquid that is the base of any ink. Different varnishes are made for different inks, but they are all made by mixing the resins, solvents, and additive, often at high temperatures, to form a homogenous mixture.

Resins, which bind the ink ingredients together, react with each other and make the varnish more viscous. Pigments are then mixed into the varnish and ground down to break up any clumps so that the colours are spread evenly through the ink.

How are the different colours formed?

Different coloured pigments are used to create different ink colours. Black and white ink are made from carbon black and titanium dioxide, accordingly, and they can be used by themselves or with other pigments to alter their colour.

Traditional printers use four main colours of ink: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. These colours, when mixed together in different proportions, can make the whole spectrum of colours that is needed to print in full colour.

Newer printers also often have additional inks, such as light cyan, light magenta, or grey, to improve image quality and accuracy of colour reproduction.

How is ink different to toner?

Both ink and toner are used for home and business printing, however the way they are applied to paper is different.

Ink is a liquid tinted with pigments and dyes, used in inkjet printers. There are two types: dye-based (colourants dissolved into liquids) or pigment-based (fine powder suspended in liquid).

Inkjet printers spray tiny drops of ink through miniscule nozzles onto paper to create a copy of digital documents or images. Toner, on the other hand, is a very fine powder made from polyester; a type of plastic. In a laser printer, the laser creates an electrostatic template of your image on a rotating metal drum, which carries an electrical charge.

A cartridge dispenses toner onto the drum, but the toner sticks only to certain areas where the laser changes the drum’s electrical charge.

Chemgrit Coatings supplies a variety of raw materials and additives used in the manufacture of ink including pigments, titatnium dioxide, resin and solvents. For more information contact Chemgrit Coatings on or

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