Print

What’s in a name?

Written by Peter Davidson on 15 September 2016.

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I am still quite amazed how many people are not aware what the “eco” bit of Eco Solvent ink stands for. Many users believe that it stands for Eco as in “green” and when they are told the real meaning - economy, not ecological - they are surprised and almost feel cheated that they weren’t told this in the first place.

To most people, "eco" means ecological. Full or True Solvent inks nearly always have a strong odour. Generally an eco solvent ink has little or no odour and doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients. The solvents within eco solvent inks are usually biodegradable and able to be broken down within the human body. However, just because an ink has no odour it does not automatically mean that it can be used in a normal indoor environment without extraction systems in place. You should always check the manufacturers product description sheets or with the manufacturer regarding ventilation requirements when using any kind of eco solvent ink. 

I don’t think the suppliers can’t be held totally to blame for this as it is the purchaser who should have researched it more thoroughly before they bought their printer. 

There have been and still are many descriptions of inkjet inks that aren’t totally accurate and I recall one supplier a few years ago who made some outstanding claims about the wholesome contents of their citrus based inks, but from what I was told at the time the only wholesome element was the smell, if you happen to like that type of thing?

Today, apart from Eco Solvent, there are several new inks or new versions of existing inks that tend to confuse users with their names or marketing descriptions. “Hybrid” UV inkjet inks seem to be a quite popular description at the moment and from what I can gather this means that they are a combination of UV and solvent chemistry, therefore when compared to the previous versions these ‘hybrid’ inks seem to have more UV and less solvent in their make up.

The ever evolving REACH regulations are probably to blame for some of these changes together with the learning curve that the manufacturers are going through with the challenges of adhesion to the substrates.

Latex inks are another good example of where customers can get confused about what they are buying. The great story around Latex is that it is a water based ink, which is absolutely true. The base chemistry is water and latex is  derived from trees. However, I am still surprised by how green they are claimed to be when you consider how many people are allergic to latex, and on closer inspection of the material safety data documentation there are a few other additives that could be considered, and probably are, non water-based chemistry.

I’m sure there are much more qualified scientific people who can justify all of these ink properties but it would be great if the true description was printed on the tin so that everyone is absolutely clear on what they are using. In defence of the manufacturers and sellers of the inks, the documentation is usually supplied, or at the least made readily available for customers to examine. That said, I would expect that most customers are like me and the chemical formulas appear to be in a very different language from what we use every day, so not exactly a good bed time read. It is probably true to say that customers (during the exciting purchasing process) hardly ever take enough time to pay attention to what it is that is printed on the proverbial tin to take much notice, so there is also an element of blame on everyone’s part.

“What’s in a name” certainly rings true in the fast changing world on inkjet ink.  Just keep in mind that not being able to smell something doesn't necessarily take the devil out of it, and the devil here is clearly in the detail.

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