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What is ink

28. June 2011 08:00 by Danielle in   //  Tags: , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

What is ink?

Ink according to the Oxford Dictionary is: “a colored fluid used for writing, drawing, printing, or duplicating.”  According to Wikipedia: “Ink is a liquid or paste that contains pigments and/or dyes and is used to color a surface to produce an image, text, or design.”  Britannica Concise Encyclopedia defines it as a “Fluid or paste of various colors (usually black or dark blue) used for writing and printing, composed of a pigment or dye in a liquid vehicle (solvent).”  No matter where you look for a definition, all of them have something in common; the purpose of ink is to deliver a visual image.  Inks are found in almost every aspect of human activity.

The first inks used were made of fruit or vegetables juices; blood from some types of animals and bark from trees.  The first man made inks were made from animal or vegetable charcoal mixed with glue and it appeared in Egypt about 4,500 years ago.  Older style writing inks, such as in fountain pens, use a fluid water-based dye system. But in the 1950s, when ballpoint pens became fashionable, the writing ink industry shifted to paste like oil-based dye systems. The thick consistency allows capillary action to keep the ink flowing well, and the inks generally are no smearing and quicker drying than water-based systems.  Dyes tend to be preferred over pigments for writing inks because pigments can't be dispersed minutely enough and tend to clog the pen tip. Water-based dye or pigment systems are still used for markers, highlighters and rollerball pens. A few pen manufacturers, such as Bic (which sells about 3 million pens per day) make their own ink, but most pen manufacturers buy their ink.

There are various types of inks available today, all used for different purposes in the printing market.  Newspapers, magazines, photo and book publishers are just a few examples of the paper base industries that use inks in a daily basis.  Even the governments use ink to print money.  But there are a lot more industries that depend on inks to deliver a message; apparel, beverage and paint industries are some good examples.  In today’s developed nations, most residences and businesses have a printing capability and having an inkjet printer is very common in most countries.  At home ink is used to print homework, reports, bills or just to print some drawings to keep the kids busy doing some coloring (I’m guilty as charged). 

Today's inks are divided into two classes: printing inks and writing inks. Printing inks are further broken down into two subclasses: ink for conventional printing, and ink for digital nonimpact printing, which includes ink-jet and electrophotographic technologies.  Inks also contain additives such as waxes, lubricants, surfactants, and drying agents to aid printing and to impart any desired special characteristics.  An average size magazine issue of 80 pages requires a total of only about 68 gal of ink to print just more than 150,000 copies.  The advent of personal computers, personal electronics, and the Internet may one day replace libraries full of printed books and periodicals with electronic products.  Look how many e-books are already in use. But the great paperless society hasn't fully shown itself yet, many industries still rely on paper. And as long as there's paper, then there must be ink.

Pressing Forward: The Evolution of Printing Devices

9. February 2011 06:00 by Josh in   //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

What would Johannes Gutenberg think of today’s modern laser printer? Would he even recognize it as an evolution of his invention that changed the world? Most historians believe that the printing press was the single most important invention of the Middle Ages. Gutenberg conceived the idea of a movable type and the first printing press. It should be noted that the printing press is not the result of a single invention, it is the aggregation of three different technologies that were in existence centuries before Gutenberg was born.


• The adaptation for printing of the wine or olive oil screw-type press that had been in use for hundreds of years, throughout Europe and Asia.

• The adaptation of block print technology, known in Europe since the return of Marco Polo from Asia at the end of the 13th century.

• The development of mass production paper making techniques. Paper was brought from China to Italy in the 12th century, but was thought too flimsy for books.

The first few books to be printed and sold at print shops were religious texts and bibles. There was very little to no printing of new ideas taking place. Most people entered the printing business and then quickly left it. The main reason was the distribution of books was not organized. The potential for improvement was there, the market was there, and the demand was definitely there, but the control and transport were poorly organized. To add to this, the literacy rate in Europe was still very low. Most people did not even know how to read. However, this situation was improved by the Frankfort Fair, which was a center for printing and drew hundreds of booksellers, scholars, publishers and collectors from all over the world.

Printing encouraged literacy amongst the population and eventually brought about a deep and lasting impact on many people’s lives. The majority of the first books made by hand were typically the Bible. The print shop on the other hand, responded to demand with medical, travel and practical manuals. Printing also provided a platform for scholars and prevented the corruption of their texts during hand copying. By giving everyone the same texts to work from, the printing press had brought about progress in science and scholarship in a faster and more reliable way.

The main effects of the printing press however, was to multiply the supply and cut down the costs of books. Thus, it made information of all kinds readily available to larger segment of the population. Libraries were then able to store more information, and at a lower cost. The printing press also facilitated the preservation and dissemination of knowledge. This was very important for the advancement of science and technology. The printing press certainly fueled the start of the ‘information revolution’, which is on par with the Internet of today. The printing press allowed the spread of new ideas and information quickly, and with much greater impact.

Initial success with automatic printing was found with the steam printing presses of the early 1800's. This was the next major step for the printing industry. Gutenberg's original design had remained largely unchanged until then. The steam press, constructed of cast iron, allowed double the print size and required 90% less force to print properly. It could produce 250 prints an hour, an amazing feat for the era. Compare that to today's fully automated digital printing presses, which are capable of handling any color, font and print size at a printing rate that makes the steam press look like a snail.

So in the span of five centuries, we have witnessed human expression evolve from the spoken word, to the hand written word, to printed word. Now with today’s electronic mediums, our communication has evolved to what has become the digital information age. The internet’s effect on communication is causing us to rethink text itself. It has almost come full circle and returned to a state much like it was in its infancy of the spoken word. I am confident that if Johannes Gutenberg were alive today and needed toner for his laser printer, he would web-surf over to ClickInks.com. With the purchase of Clickinks remanufactured printer cartridges, you help reduce the amount of cartridges that are disposed of into landfills and save yourself money at the same time!

What is Toner?

Every day we print using a laser printer at work or handle come across documents that have been printed with toner. The most common questions are what is toner, and how does it work? Why does it cost so much, and how can I reduce my costs?
Toner is the powder used in laser printers and photocopiers to form the printed text and images on the paper. Toner granules are melted by the heat of the fuser which allows it to bind to the paper. In its early form it was simply carbon powder. In an effort to improve the quality of the printout, modern toner has the carbon particles mixed with various polymers to allow for better dispersion onto the drum.


In earlier designs, the carbon toner was poured by the user from a bottle into a reservoir in the machine. Usually a sizable amount of the toner was wasted, as it was virtually impossible to not spill some of it during the refilling process. Current machines feed directly from a sealed cartridge, which is usually a proprietary design. The specific polymer used today varies by manufacturer but can be a styrene acrylate copolymer, a polyester resin, a styrene butadiene copolymer, or a few other special polymers. Toner formulations vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and even from machine to machine. Typically formulation, granule size and melting point vary the most.

Originally, the granule size of toner averaged 14–16 micrometers. To improve image resolution, granule size was reduced, eventually reaching the current 8–10 micrometers for 600 dots per inch resolution. Further reductions in granule size producing further improvements in resolution are being developed through the application of new technologies. Toner has traditionally been made by compounding the ingredients and creating a slab which was broken or pelletized, then turned into a fine powder with a controlled granule size range by air jet milling. This process results in toner granules with varying sizes and aspherical shapes. To get a finer print, some companies are using a chemical process to grow toner granules from molecular reagents. This results in more uniform size and shapes of toner granules. The smaller, uniform shapes permit more accurate reproduction and more efficient toner use. Toner manufacturers maintain a quality control standard for granule size distribution in order to produce a powder suitable for use in their printers.

Now that you know what goes into that toner cartridge, and understand why they cost what they do, go ahead and order your next toner cartridge. Keep in mind the price is much less at ClickInks.com; with the purchase of Clickinks remanufactured toner cartridges, you help reduce the amount of cartridges that are disposed of into landfills and save yourself money at the same time!