Water-based inkjet printing has been around for several decades but has really taken off in new directions. In the past several years, it has made its way into new applications and new markets, including textiles and packaging. These applications have required printer OEMs to develop new types of printer hardware which utilize industrial printhead technology, placing additional performance requirements on dispersions to ensure digital ink is up to the task.
Inkjet printers were first predominantly used in homes and offices to print standard documents. Now, inkjet technology is being used in these newer industrial processes to replace traditional analog printers. Print speeds have increased exponentially, which has required designing new print systems that can print at high speeds. This puts more challenges on the printing system, which also puts more challenges on ink dispersions. Dispersions must be even more stable so that inks print robustly and reliably at demanding high speeds.
In addition to meeting speed requirements, many newer packaging applications involve food, so the chemistries involved must meet a variety of food packaging regulations, whether the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, European regulations or regulations in many other countries. These regulations apply even for indirect food contact (corrugated boxes, cereal boxes, etc). Due to strict guidelines, many of the polymer building blocks used in the past are no longer adequate as the need for food safe inkjet ink increases.
The Qualities that Matter
When formulating digital inks, there are several qualities that dispersions must deliver:
- Bright and vibrant colors
- Excellent stability and reliability
- Optimized particle size distribution that enables reliable and robust jetting, typically with an average particle size around 100nm.
- A wide formulation latitude that allows ink formulators the luxury to use a variety of components such as, humectants, surfactants and resins without having an adverse effect on the final ink stability.
- Batch-to-batch consistency to deliver the same high-quality performance every time.
Why Dispersions Are Important
Reliability is critical. Dispersions are one of the primary building blocks for inkjet inks. They must be reliable and stable in order to deliver reliable and robust inks. The ink needs to jet well, be consistent, and provide the right level of color and fastness properties (rub/scratch/wash/fade resistance) required for the desired end application. Ultimately, the ink must be delivered reliably from the printhead to the substrate without issue time and time again.
Lubrizol acquired Diamond Dispersions in 2016. Diamond Dispersions had been developing and producing quality inkjet ink dispersions (disperse dye and pigment) since 2007, primarily focused on the textiles market. Today, the Diamond Dispersions product range is fully integrated into Lubrizol, capitalizing on Lubrizol’s extensive experience in chemical manufacturing and proven polymer chemistry. Lubrizol has become a preferred inkjet dispersion partner for customers in the rapidly evolving digital world.
Contact us to learn more about Lubrizol’s stable, high quality dispersions for inkjet inks, or visit diamonddispersions.com