Latex ink, a breakthrough against VOCs and solvent odor

Latex ink, a breakthrough against VOCs and solvent odor

HP latex ink samples are all over my desk. Latex ink documentation is atop them. It’s late at night and lots of news of HP’s new latex ink that will replace solvent, and frankly may replace eco-solvent, mild-solvent, and lite-solvent inks too.

But HP latex inks are not intended to replace UV-curable ink for printing on rigid and thick materials. HP latex inks are for roll-to-roll signage materials, especially Tyvek and other HDPE substrates. These materials receive a surface treatment that prepares them for the new HP latex inks.

HP wide-scan thermal printheads for HP latex inks

The first time I had time to appreciate the details of the HP wide scan thermal printheads was at the pre-DRUPA 2008 event in Israel, March 10th. Since the wide scan thermal printheads are associated with delivering the new latex ink, I will be updating this page as soon as there is time. So much is going on because both DRUPA and FESPA Digital are being held this same year. Plus most of the details are under NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). So we are trained and instructed in the new latex inks, but are politely asked not to write about the full details until DRUPA. So we can today (before DRUPA) write only about the print samples, printheads, and documentation provided in briefings by the HP ink chemists and HP development team leads (such as Dr Ross Allen).

HP latex ink is totally different than any current ink, though I did hear a rumor that Seiko was developing a latex ink to. But I did not hear this from Seiko itself. Rumors such as this float through the industry all the time; about 75% of them are true. It turned out that the new Seiko ink was more likely a variation on their mild-solvent ink that Seiko will use to launch with new solvent printers to replace the ColorPainter 64S

During one of the technology presentations in Israel, the composition of the HP latex ink has been likened to jetting liquid cement, which is probably one reason the printheads are at 12 picoliter and not less.

HP wide-scan thermal printheads combine with latex ink

Other innovative inks, including non-solvent signage inks that require heating.

What I am curious about is to what degree it will be possible to learn the full pros and cons of this ink, and to compare HP latex ink with other unusual water-based inks, namely Lumocolor from Staedtler and “ Magic Ink” from Eastech (Japan, Taiwan, Thailand ).

The Lumocolor ink requires heating for some materials but the Magic Ink from Eastech does not.

The only other water-based ink that required IR heating was the unique DuPont ink used by the Encad VinylJet. Several hundred of these Encad VinylJet printers were sold, but they had so many issues that Kodak had to absorb millions of dollars in losses and jettison this line of printers quickly and with as little fanfare as possible.

Part of my upcoming research will be to learn all the features of the new HP latex ink that distinguish it from all these other inks. Since I am a professor of inkjet printing, I have an intrinsic and deeply rooted interest in learning all this, and then helping our readers (printshop owners, printshop managers, printer operators and students) learn so they can make an educated decision of which ink chemistry, which printhead technology, and which printer platform to purchase this year and next year.

Another ink that is raising interest is the even newer water-based ink from Sepiax Ink Technology.

Printing Technology, HP latex ink

HP Optical Media Advance Sensor for the HP latex inks

This OMAS sensor is something not available for any Roland or Mimaki printer. Mutoh has Intelligent Interweaving but nothing like this optical recognition system of the media advance sensor. I will try to obtain some graphics to help explain the optical media advance sensor in future updates. But the result is less banding.

Latex ink, HP wide-scan thermal printheads, solvent ink

Most recently updated March 18, 2008.

First posted March 10, 2008.


more info about Latex Inks: