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Our A to Z of Wide Format – I is for Ink

3 mins read
I is for Ink Blog

Applications, Bleed, RIP Software…. We get asked lots of questions about the world of Wide Format on a daily basis. At Signmaster we are here to help and our lovely team of experts have pulled together a handy A to Z guide answering the most frequently asked questions.

Introducing the Signmaster A to Z of Wide Format

This is a series of helpful blogs, guides and articles that we hope you will find useful. We will post a new blog every fortnight and we’d love to know what you think so please comment or drop us an email. We’d love to hear from you!

This week it’s all about Ink

I is for Ink Blog

In the Wide Format world there are various Ink Technologies available. At Signmaster we specialise in Solvent, Eco Solvent and UV Ink technologies.

Sign-makers and Wide Format printers use all these technologies every day to make bright and colourful banners, stickers, signage, vehicle wraps and more but below is a brief rundown on how the different technologies actually work.

Solvent Ink

Solvent is an oil-based solution that holds the pigment and resin.

How does it work?

  • Solvent bites into the media and deposits the pigment which is then evaporated or flashed off using heat leaving the pigment behind.
  • Not much heat is required to evaporate the carrier.
  • The durability is 5 – 7 years outdoor.
  • VOCS (volatile organic compounds) are present so some ventilation may be required.
  • The oil-based solution is corrosive so heads can easily clog.


  • Fade-resistant
  • Waterproof
  • Resistant to abrasion
  • Can be used on un-coated banner and vinyl


Eco-Solvent Ink

Eco-Solvent is still and an oil-based solution that holds the pigment and resin, but uses more refined mineral oils (ether extracts).

However, this does not make it ecologically sound! It just means there is less / lower levels of solvent in the ink.

How does it work?

  • Solvent evaporates or is flashed off using heat leaving the pigment behind.
  • Not much heat is required to evaporate the carrier.
  • It takes longer to dry/evaporate than full solvent.
  • Alcohol and glass cleaners can remove the ink.
  • As solvents are aggressive and absorbed into the substrate/media they can impact on the integrity of vinyl and depending on ink coverage cause the vinyl to thin and contract. This is a consideration for some wall graphics and vinyl applications.


  • Less need for ventilation.
  • Lower maintenance than solvent due to being less aggressive.


Solvent Ink


UV Ink

UV ink is made up of mainly oligomer and monomer acrylate resins along with photo initiators. Fancy!

How does it work?

  • Small compounds of molecules and complex molecules from acrylic resins carry the pigment.
  • When this composition is exposed to UV light it hardens and encapsulates the pigment in a ‘dry ink film’.
  • The carrier is not evaporated unlike Solvent and Latex. It is cured / hardened using either LED or mercury arc lamps.
  • As the ink is cured as soon as it is laid down, it cures before the ink spreads and locks the ink in place. As the carrier isn’t evaporated and a ‘hard ink film’ is created, 3D textures and finishes are achievable.


  • Adheres well to most surfaces.
  • Less ink is used as it is not absorbed into the substrate.
  • Vibrant prints and dense colours.
  • Can be built up to create a 3D / textured effects to mimic embossing
  • Ink comes out completely dry – Allowing Instant Finishing!
  • Available with different elasticity attributes.
  • However, remember slower print times and shorter shelf life on inks

Cross section of a UV-curable ink drop: (figure 4)
When the ink drops land on the media, a layer containing the colorant sticks to the media surface. Unlike solvent, the colorant does not evaporate but it is instantly hardened by intense UV light polymerization (curing). This leaves a durable film covering the media.

UV Printing Ink Technology

For more information or prices of the INK we supply please visit our website

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