Digital printing inks are a key part of modern printing technology. It is used for printing smaller designs onto garments such as t-shirts and promotional wears. Another major use of digital printing ink is to impress larger designs onto wide-format as a part of visual communications (VISCOM) incorporate brandings such as flags and banners. New ink sets like UV curing and water-based inks have mostly made the digital printing possible by overcoming major challenges such as ink fabric compatibility and surviving end use of the printing material. Consequently, it also has created conditions for all to be done more efficiently and sustainably. (TIP, 2019)
Several factors are contributing to this growing demand. We have corporate branding, advertisements, promotions, and other such trends of VISCOM. But also, the investments by key players eager to come up with new products to meet the market requirements, are leading to the change of the digital printing ink market. Faster printing speeds, more cost-effective processes, and tougher environmental regulations are a few of the challenges currently facing the ink industry. (Magdassi 2010)
The real opportunity lies in R&D into developing new inks formulations that could be later used in a more environmentally and long-lasting manner. With the recent quest for cleaner productions, special attention has been paid to inks that eradicate waste, emissions, and reducing energy input in manufacturing and the reduction or eradication of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from inks have received a major boost (Niaounakis 2015a, Hawkins 2003). So far, water-based inks have proven to be the solution to reducing VOC emissions because these inks are generally cheaper, reduces atmospheric pollution, have fewer solvents, lowers fire risks, produce less print odor, and are easier to wash-up on printing equipment (Ali 2008).
These inks have superior advantages due to less bubble formation, which is common in most thermal inkjet printers for digital printing (Provost 2010, Tyler 2005). Water-based or aqueous inks are easy to clean from print heads and ensures less nozzle clogging once the rheology of the ink is Newtonian (Xu 2005, Żołek-Tryznowska 2016a). The composition of water-based digital inkjet inks is stoichiometrically formulated to meet specific requirements of substrates.
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