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Inkjet Ink Essentials: Understanding the Differences Between Dye and Pigment for Film Printing

There are two types of ink, dye and pigment. Both are used to produce films, and both need to be matched to its proper film supply. Pigment and dye such as Dmax® black dye ink are radically different inks so don’t choose the wrong film. Some claim there are films that work great for both but that’s not sound information. A film works best for the ink it was engineered for and it works okay with the other. Buy the proper film for your inks and test them before you buy in bulk.

Dye ink requires a thinner emulsion layer than pigment ink. There is cheaply produced dye as well as quality dye specifically formulated to print on film media such as Dmax®. At Freehand we custom formulated and manufacture Dmax dye black ink specifically for the needs of the screen print industry needing density on film media for screen exposure. The higher quality ingredients and processes involved produce a "high dye load" product that supports the industry’s highest density and durability.

Inkjet ink is an air dry technology:
Dye ink is aqueous meaning it is water based with dye and UV blocking agents to make up the density to block UV light in the exposure unit. Giving the film more time to cure before use means more water will evaporate leaving behind only the dye and UV agent. When the water is fully evaporated we call that cured. A cured film is not only greater in density, but it’s much more durable, scratch resistant and archival.

Dry ink is like pudding, it may be dry to the touch which prevents sticking when films stack just after printing, but below the surface it’s unstable and easily reactivated by moisture. Press a dry film up against a damp emulsion screen (not fully cured) then turn on the exposure lamp and it creates a greenhouse effect. Your film will likely fall apart after it’s first use. The screen will expose properly, but the film will not survive the process. Cured ink is much more durable.

Allow your films to fully cure. A few hours are good, overnight is best.



(c) Freehand Library Article / AccuRIP / Separation Studio NXT / Spot Process / Dmax / Amaze-Ink / DarkStar

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