Solvent printing has a long reliability history, affordable production costs and has a tried and tested high quality printing reputation. However, over the past few years new ink technologies such as latex and UV printing have come to the market, resulting in a change in Wide Format printing in many sectors.
What is solvent printing?
Solvent printing entails mixing colour pigment and a solvent to form a liquid ink. This liquid is then transferred by the printhead onto a substrate and as the solvent evaporates it leaves a hard layer of ink. Inkjet, desktop and large format printers have all previously used solvent based technology.
What is Latex printing?
Latex is resin-based is a non-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) and HAPS (Hazardous Air Pollutants) ink that can print on a wide variety of coated and uncoated materials. The biggest advantage of latex printing is that the prints are dry as soon as they come out of the printer. Latex printers require less maintenance and have automated cleaning.
What is UV printing?
UV printers use ultra violet light to dry or cure ink as it’s printed. The UV lamps move back and forth with every pass of the printhead, instantaneously fixing the printed image to the paper. Just like latex printing the prints are dry as soon as they come out of the printer.
With businesses having to keep up with customer requirement for quick turnaround, traditional print techniques such as solvent printing struggle to provide this option due to the lengthy curing time. This is where UV and latex printing is capturing the market as the finished product can be used immediately.
Businesses are also starting to look at what impact they are having on the environment, in terms of costings and eco-friendly practices. Traditional solvent printing mixes pigment and solvent to form a liquid ink. When the industrial solvent is dissolved it can be toxic and therefore requires a complex ventilation system to remove the hazardous airborne chemicals. Eco solvent inks are now also available, which emit less VOCs without compromising the quality and durability of the finished product. UV printing does not use solvents in the ink and therefore do not produce VOCs. The LED curing in UV printing also offers a low-energy alternative to analogue printing.
Although latex and UV are great technology, there is still a big market for Solvent inks. The more affordable production costs, the diverse availability of substrates and the high speeds of printing still make solvent printing a strong contender in the printing world.