The Clickinks Blog | ink history

Who invented ink?

5. January 2011 07:39 by Danielle Bernhard in inkjet, inkjet cartridges, ink cartridge, technology, ink history, inks  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
Today’s topic is about something so ingrained in our world, that most never think about it, yet we would all be lost without it. It’s used to help create art and to sign millionaire athletes’ contracts. Where would we be without ink? I wouldn’t be typing this blog, that’s for sure.

There are many debates amongst historians (Really, what else do they have to do?) about who first invented ink. Ink was the natural evolution after humans invented drawing and writing. We couldn’t continue carving on cave walls forever. Can you imagine relaxing on a tropical beach with an umbrella drink and reading a nice cave carving?

Some historians credit the invention of ink and paper to the Egyptians. This claim is because paper has its origin in the word papyrus. The papyrus plant is a wetland sage that was once abundant in the Nile Delta. Recorded history disputes those claims and lays all the credit to the Chinese.

Ink was originally created for marking the surfaces of hieroglyphics that were carved into stone. The first ink was a combination of soot and either animal glue or honey. This ink was invented by Tien-Lcheu, a noted Chinese philosopher of 2697 B.C. It became common throughout China by the year 1200 B.C. Other cultures soon adapted this invention and started adding colors derived from berries, plants, and other minerals. The colors of inks soon had ritualistic meanings attached to them.

As you have experienced, ink has moved a long way from its humble origins. Ink has evolved from the printing press of the industrial revolution to today’s remanufactured inkjet cartridges. In a way you could say that ink has come almost full circle, with the newest biodegradable inks just a modern variation of what Tien-Lcheu first created!

Where does ink come from?

16. August 2010 13:11 by Danielle Bernhard in clickinks, ink cartridge, technology, printer ink, ink history, inks, toner cartridges  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
No birds and bees here, no octopus either. The ink that we use today bears little resemblance to octopus ink, or melanin. In this century ink has become much more sophisticated and synthetic.

Printer ink contains pigments or dyes added to a base usually made from petroleum oil, de-ionized water and glycol, a thick syrupy substance that helps the ink to stick together and mix.

Toner, the powder used in laser printer and copier cartridges, is a manufacturer specific combination of special polymers and pigment, compounded into a fine powder, improving resolution.

The exact mixtures vary by the manufacturer, and are considered quite proprietary, however all ink cartridges come from the basis of a 1930 Ink jet cartridge patent, that we found very interesting.

Xerox Invents Metal Ink For Printable Circuit

A new invention by Xerox researchers will allow electronic circuits to be printed on fabrics and plastics, according to an October 2009 press release from the printing brand. The new conductive silver ink paves the way for e-readers that can be folded like newspapers, or circuits that can be integrated into clothing and worn. It may make redundant the silicon chip, on which electronics have been dependent.


The Xerox silver ink has a uniquely low melting point for a metal, essential for printing on plastics. While normal metals have a melting point of 1,000 degrees, plastic melts at 150 degrees. Yet Xerox’s silver ink melts at 140 degrees, meaning the circuit can be printed, before the plastic is compromised. This opens the way for countless applications. Xerox’s press release for example raises the possibility of pill boxes that can measure their remaining contents, ideal for medication.

Speaking in the press release, Laboratory Manager at the Xerox Research Centre in Canada Paul Smith said: "We've found the silver bullet that could make things like electronic clothing and inexpensive games a reality today. This breakthrough means the industry now has the capability to print electronics on a wider range of materials and at a lower cost."

According to an October 2009 post by Dean Takahashi at VentureBeat.com, the silver ink has been in development at Xerox since 2001. The silver ink enables circuits to be printed like an everyday printer, using an ongoing feed. It doesn’t require the clean rooms necessary for making a silicon chip, and bypasses the cost of production. For the first time, circuits could be almost weightless, integrated into the fabric of a shirt.

Scientists have sought this development for some time: Hewlett Packard for example has been working on plastic electronics since the 1990s. Having created a silver ink viable for commercial use, Xerox intends to “aggressively seek interested manufacturers and developers by providing sample materials to allow them to test and evaluate potential applications.” Expect to see electronic billboard t-shirts before the end of the next decade.

Solar-Powered Road Printer

The device from industrial designers Hoyoung Lee et al. is a good sign for the environment.



Until recently painting a road sign was a hazardous business. The workmen risked giving themselves a terrible posture, what with leaning down to spell words out onto the tarmac surface. Rarely had bending at the knees possessed such immense value.

At worst the work left them in a permanently bent position, unfit to do anything but paint roads!

But thanks to the invention of the solar-powered road printer, now workmen can put those fears behind them. Unveiled on December 18th at EcoFriend.org, the handy (since it doesn’t need hands) device is the work of industrial designers Hoyoung Lee, Doyoung Kim, and Hongju Kim.

The road printer harbors an onboard solar panel with which it powers itself, trundling along as it jet sprays the tarmac. Road signs are pre-programmed into the printer’s memory – right now it can print such classics as the U-Turn and Stop Sign.

The road printer doesn’t even require workmen to bend down to set it going: the buttons have been designed to withstand the steel-capped toe of a boot. Workmen need only replenish the paint reservoir, from which the paint cartridge refills itself.

Of course, the device needs charging – but even then workmen need only leave it sunbathing by the roadside.

The EcoFriend.org article doesn’t state if the road printer is intended for commercial use, or is just conceptual. Yet the device may yet become the No. 1 Christmas gift for workmen looking to be spared a visit to the chiropractor’s office.




For pictures of the solar-powered road printer click: here.

Inked: The History of Printer ink

Inked: The history of printer ink

An ink is a liquid containing a mixture of pigments and or dyes used for coloring a surface to produce an image or text.

Ink is a compound medium composed of solvents, pigments, dyes, resins, lubricants, surfactants and other materials. The materials serve many purposes including controlling flow, thickness of the ink and the print results.

Up until the mid 1980’s, with the introduction of home computers, consumers did not have the freedom of home printing. Today in the U.S. most homes have printing, faxing and scanning options. As a result, buying a cartridge of ink is now a part of both business and consumers shopping lists, similar to buying a bottle of ink for fountain pens years ago.
The majority of ink cartridges from companies selling remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges, like Clickinks.com, contain dye based ink. OEM (Original equipment manufacturer) cartridges may contain pigment based ink. You will get a wider range of color into dyes than into pigments. Consequently, dye based inks tend to be more vibrant than pigment based inks. However, results depend upon the overall printer design.

Some printer brands use a combination of both dye and pigmented, other printers can use either type of ink, while still others are only restricted to dye based or only restricted to pigment based.

The price of replacing printer cartridges has recently become a point of contention with consumers, especially as prices are lowered on printers. The major printer manufacturers like Hewlett Packard, Lexmark, Dell, Canon, Epson and Brother, often only break even selling printers, because they plan to make a sizeable profit by selling cartridges over the life span of the printer.

One reason printers are now available at much lower prices is because, in order to continue benefiting from cartridge sales, they have installed microchips on their cartridges to interact with the printer in a way that prevents operation when the ink level is low or when the cartridge has been refilled. Many cartridges produce up to 38% more prints, even though the chip stated that the cartridge was empty.

Customers can often cut printing costs by using ink cartridge refill kits, or by purchasing new non-O.E.M./Original equipment manufacturer brands. The non-OEM equipment can include Compatible or Remanufactured ink cartridges. The replacement of OEM ink cartridges is more common in other countries, with United States starting to catch up. These less expensive alternative cartridges sometimes have more ink than the original OEM branded ink cartridges and may produce the same, better, or sometimes inferior quality, depending on a variety of factors, including the retailer chosen, and their ability to produce a quality product.

Some manufacturers like HP, Dell and Lexmark have built-in the printer head on the cartridge. This also makes the printers cheaper, but the cartridges more expensive because with every replacement you are paying for a new precision print head. Other brands, such as Epson, do not include the print head and so the printers tend to be somewhat more expensive.

Empty laser toner cartridges, inkjet cartridges, photocopier toner bottles and drums are many times discarded, and are now piling up tons of waste in landfills. This waste is now avoidable with the use of Remanufactured products. Remanufactured printer supplies, now available from stores like Clickinks.com, utilize a smart recycling process to recycle cartridges to like new products.

Compatible, Remanufactured and OEM cartridges can be found at www.Clickinks.com.