Digital printing ink and toner: digitally printed labels are only as good as the inks and toners adhering to them.

Author:Katz, Steve
 
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Digital printing continues to gain market share, and along with the trend, overall adoption of digital inks for packaging is increasing. Digital press and ink manufacturers work to improve upon their ink and toner offerings, knowing that the ink and toner adorning the labels go along way in broadening the growing appeal for digital printing technology. Manufacturers are also striving to have their products meet regulatory demands for a growing range of applications and end uses, including passing tests related to food safety and recyclability.

"One trend we've noticed is that the market is demanding broader testing and evaluation of digital inks to gain a full understanding of how digital inks can complement or replace conventional printing techniques," says Roy Oomen, category manager for HP Indigo. "End-use validation processes for digital inks include high pressure pasteurization to see how packages perform as well as other downstream processes. Rigid and thorough testing formats matter greatly to end customers who want to ensure functional performance of digital inks is evaluated in the same way as conventional inks. More and more consumer product companies are replacing large volumes of conventional printing with digital printing, leading to more frequent compliance testing."

Filip Weymans, Xeikon's director of segment marketing, Labels and Packaging, says that many people take it for granted that digital ink and toner need to be tuned for their application. "In conventional printing, it is a given that the ink you buy for labels fits with the requirements. Hence, the printer prefers Ink Supplier A and doesn't consider Ink Supplier B as he only sells water-based ink, for example. With digital, you buy a press and then you are stuck with the inks that come with that press. So during a press acquisition, you need to evaluate the press, its workflow, and also the ink/toner. And you need to ask if the inks fit the applications of your customers," says Weymans.

Jon Pritchard, product manager for Domino, states, "Typically it is the ink that enables an application's success over failure."

With that said, here's a look at the traits and advantages of digital printing ink manufactured for label applications.

HP INDIGO

HP offers what is says are endless possibilities with HP Indigo Electroink, which provides a wide on-press color gamut. In addition, HP IndiChrome extends spot color options with off-press color mixing and covers up to 97 percent of the Pantone range.

HP Indigo Electroink white creates an opaque appearance and solid backing for labels, shrink sleeves and flexible packaging applications and eliminates processes such as overprint varnish. HP Indigo Electroink white for shrink sleeves also enables the correct level of ink hardening and opacity levels, leveraging the digital process to eliminate extra steps required in other printing methods, while providing cost savings and production efficiencies.

HP Indigo offers an expanded color gamut with HP IndiChrome, which utilizes HP Indigo Electroink cyan, magenta, yellow, black, orange and violet...

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