Whiter shade of pale…all about white ink…
InkTec have always developed and manufactured inks for many of the leading large format printer brands. Not forgetting of course our own range of specially created high quality inks for exclusive use in our portfolio of JETRIX printers. These include white, primer and varnish options for all our JETRIX flatbed printers and white ink for our UV roll to roll printers. Varnish can be used to add impact and value, with a spot or flood varnish giving a gloss or satin finish, but the main purpose for clear ink is not only colour expression but also to add gloss protection. If you have a difficult substrate such as glass or metal, then primer can be used to assist in the printing process. To provide extra vibrancy white ink can be used to produce images on transparent, colour, metal and wood materials.
Not just any wide-format device can print white; the hardware must be specifically designed to handle it, which is why we have the latest Konica Minolta 1024i print heads on our JETRIX machines to achieve the highest performance and opacity when printing white and to avoid any performance issues. Configurations on our machines are up-gradable and interchangeable depending on the customers requirements. You could start off with CMYKLcLm + White to begin with and then add a primer channel when it is needed or required. Konica Minolta print heads paired with InkTec’s graphical user interface can handle a wide range of fluid viscosities easily, including white, primer and varnish inks. Unlike other manufacturers speed is not affected while printing white with our smart GUI and multilayer mode where CMYK and white can be printed at the same time just a few passes behind each other to keep production time at it’s lowest, to keep your business running smoothly.
What are the typical applications for white and clear inks?
The main applications are typically those that use transparent, metallic or coloured materials. Rigid substrates such as wood and metal are also increasing with the use of white ink for specialised gifts and creative printing. One of the most basic uses for white is to use it on coloured or clear substrates for text or graphics or using a layer of white ink between the colours and the clear or coloured substrate to ensure that the process colours will be vibrant. This is good for applications such as double-sided window graphics. The process Colour, White, Colour (also referred to as Day/Night) is used in backlit applications to ensure colours are accurate and vibrant when front lit or backlit. More creative uses are using white ink at varying transparencies to create fun design effects or create the appearance of frosted or etched glass. You can also create certain colours pop more than others by creating white gradients on your prints.
What order can white ink/toner be laid down?
On the JETRIX LXi series of flatbed printer; white, primer and varnish can be printed in any order with the use of the user-friendly GUI. Within the GUI you can set up to 7 layers to be printed, the motion is then automatically performed by the GUI until the print of all the layers is completed. The multi-layer function prints the selected layers together e.g. Primer, White, CMYK.
Tackling white ink pigment settling and opacity
UV curable white ink needs to satisfy several requirements to avoid the settling and opacity challenges that it faces. Some of the important properties include viscosity, particle size, opacity for the cured film, cure speed, adhesion to several substrates, and jet stability. It must be pointed out that a gentle swirl with a motor in the ink tank, without the introduction of any air bubbles in the ink will maintain and extend settling shelf life. A UV curable white inkjet ink of low viscosity has been shown to have high opacity and settling stability with robustness in the print head while also providing excellent end user properties on a wide variety of substrates.
White ink pigments must be heavy enough to produce opaque coverage, but not clog ink systems and print heads. Even with recirculating ink systems, printers equipped with white ink channels require regular and consistent operation and maintenance.
Add a magic touch with texture and dimensional effects
At InkTec we love technology, that’s why we support texture and dimensional effects through our technical but user-friendly graphical user interface that is provided with all our JETRIX machines, you can print up to seven layers and set the print sequence, ink type and curing method to create your desired effect. Layers can be built up with white or clear ink to create a 3D effect, this opens so many new possibilities from 3D window graphics to re-creating fine art paintings. When ripping your file over, simply add in a 3D layer, then the GUI will automatically recognise it and your layers and printing modes can be altered once the file has been ripped. No specialist skill required, simple yet technical.