As demands for new and exciting applications grow, so too must the research and development into ink formulations that are up to the task. This article highlights what's going on in UV.
By Mike Plier
As the digital industry continues to develop, can the presses and the inks really keep up with the demands—or with our imaginations?
New ink systems and applications are plunging the digital industry into markets that, until now, were considered off limits. With continued technological advances in UV chemistries, digital inks are continuing to evolve at a staggering pace. These new UV systems are setting performance standards that once were considered almost impossible, providing improved color gamut, cure speeds, substrate versatility, and durability.
Historically, research chemists had a limited selection of raw materials to work with when developing UV inkjet inks. Today, myriad raw materials contribute to the functionality of these ink systems in ways never before thought possible. Raw-material manufacturers and suppliers have committed all resources available to the continued development of this growing market, and ink-formulation chemists are the beneficiaries. The relationship between raw-material manufacturers and the formulation chemists is vital in the development of these high-performance digital ink systems.
In this article, we look at the latest UV digital inks and their relationship to UV screen inks. We delve into how this newest generation of ink systems must be formulated to overcome limitations in conventional UV digital performance. Given the cutting-edge menu of monomers, oligomers, photoinitiators, additives, and pigment dispersions, there should be no limit to the application of these inks to new markets and materials.
Mission: nothing’s impossible
The future of digital ink is limited only by our imagination. I anticipate we will see digitally printed dashboard clusters in vehicles, improved printing of architectural glass, jettable adhesives and metallics, in-mold decorations for blow molding and injection molding, digitally printed membrane switches and electronic circuitry, and more.
Can we do it now? Not yet, or at least it’s not ready for prime time. But we’ll get there with the help of open-minded researchers and raw-materials suppliers. Constant communication between ink manufacturers and their suppliers creates the chemical building blocks for these ink systems.
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