Is Green your colour?
Roger Ward from sign industry suppliers, AIT Shiraz Ltd, spoke to us about things to consider when using latex inks in comparison to solvent inks.
AIT Shiraz Ltd, are particularly involved with entry level digital printing installations where the initial investment is sub-£30,000.
Traditionally their customers have opted for solvent printers but many have since migrated to latex machines, no doubt influenced by the arguments about inks with low odour, an ability to print onto a wider range of textile substrates, no need for out-gassing, vibrant colours, lower machine maintenance and ostensibly, a greener 'water-based' product.
Ward's advice is to select a machine that is best suited for the end-user's main market: "There have also been a number of advances with solvent technology in terms of odour and safety and these low cost products are ideal for short-run, low-cost advertising. Sensible use of third party solvent inks can also help keep costs to a minimum."
Ward agrees that it is tempting for users with limited budgets to opt for a machine that will help their green credentials but highlights that whilst the latex inks may be more environmentally-friendly than their full solvent counterparts, the printing machines may not; they need more heat to dry the prints, and the print heads are often consumable items.
AIT Shiraz Ltd, who are based in Kings Hill in Kent and offer the ColorSolve range of solvent inks for printers such as the Mimaki JV3 and JV33. Ward comments that third party solvent inks are now as good if not better than their OEM counterparts:
"ColorSolve inks are manufactured in Europe to ISO 9001 standards and have been successfully used at over 200 sites in the UK. They are colour matched to the OEM inks and can be swapped as the originals expire."
"The key advantage over OEM ink is the reduced cost, typically ColorSolve are about 40% cheaper than original inks so the savings of £35 per cartridge are achievable. We support our users with UK based engineers and there are cost savings in this area too, especially on spare parts," Ward explains.
AIT have recently tested an eco-solvent style ink from Korea and have been very impressed with the results. It is designed for use with DX5 print heads and is completely odourless, can be used without extraction and is perfectly safe for normal office environments, but is priced at about one third the price of competitive inks.
It is fast drying, UV resistant and comes with a 3 year outdoor warranty:
"We have produced some very impressive results using a Shiraz RIP and a low cost Galaxy printer fitted with a bulk ink system. It can be used for producing prints on everything from posters and banners to self-adhesive vinyls and canvas. Its vibrant colours and wide colour gamut make it suitable for any number of applications, from photographic and fine art to information signage and vehicle wraps. But its key advantage, with its strong primary colours and especially red, is in its creative, eye-catching use in advertising. With ink costs of about 40p per square metre it is ideal for short term signage," Ward concludes.
For more information on AIT Shiraz Ltd, please visit www.applied-image.com or call 01732 875 000.