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Trade Comment

The Latest Developments In Ink Technology

With ink being one of the most significant cogs in the printing industry, Genevieve Lewis asks: “How has ink technology evolved and what are the latest developments?”

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Simon Isaacs, national sales director, Ricoh UK

Continuous research

From water-based pigment to solvents and latex, ink technology has been perpetually evolving and developing its capabilities. At Ricoh, our inkjet technology is based on more than 40 years of continuous research and innovation, and we’ve watched it evolve from being used primarily in office printing to being adopted commercially and industrially. The versatility of inkjet technology is what keeps it exciting. Who would have thought, a couple of decades ago, that inkjet printing would be used for everything from pharmaceuticals to bioprinting and food? Yet here it is, impacting businesses across multiple industries.

From water-based pigment to solvents and latex, ink technology has been perpetually evolving and developing its capabilities


What’s more, inkjet technology such as UV inkjet printing has meant the solutions can keep up with consumer appetites, such as a demand for sustainability. This is due to the lower curing temperature, and it means our clients can stay accountable and green for their customers. Inkjet is a product that’s continually growing and developing. At Ricoh, we hope to expand inkjet technology even further through our acquisition of LAC corporation, and our partnerships with textile colouring company ColorReel  and Olbrich, a leading European supplier of wallpaper production lines.

Sustainability and speed

Peter Baird, non-executive director, British Coatings Federation


Two of the main drivers in recent years are sustainability and the constant need for increased process speed. The industry is clearly committed to further reducing its carbon footprint wherever possible. It is also addressing the continuing challenge of manufacturing products that will transfer to the substrate to be printed on, then dry and be available to send to customers at ever-increasing turnaround speeds.

A recent development to address both those ends is UV-LED curing ink for litho, flexographic and digital print applications, which enables printers to offer high quality on a wider range of substrates than ever before, while reducing carbon footprint compared to traditional UV curing systems, and easing the transition to faster turnaround speeds in traditional offset printing. Digital printing is growing rapidly, opening up possibilities for wide-format signage, commercial and packaging print converters.

Two of the main drivers in recent years are sustainability and the constant need for increased process speed


Conductive inks are another fast-growing segment, acting as a more durable, power efficient substitute for traditional wire circuits. They can help reduce the size of electronic devices and consumer electronics and we see new applications emerging all the time.

R&D departments in every ink manufacturer continually work to find new formulations, and often new raw materials, to create inks that are the most economically and environmentally sustainable. A significant area that work has already begun on relates to the need for more recyclability and we expect to see increased activity around this topic in the coming months and years.

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