Aaron Pawson, Technical Director at Needham Inks, looks at CIJ printer technology and the inks available to aid it…
From food to cosmetics, Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ) printers are used to apply date and batch codes on practically every consumer product that is manufactured today. They are often the preferred technology because the printers can operate at very high speeds, and also have the ability to ‘throw’ the ink a considerable distance, meaning the product being coded does not need to contact the print head. Over the
past 20-years, Needham Inks has developed a comprehensive range of CIJ inks, which are designed for use with all major models of CIJ printer.
CIJ printers have been available since the 1970s and are often seen as an old inkjet technology with only minor incremental improvements being made each year. However, the same can’t be said for the inks they use. As new packaging materials continue to be developed to meet demand for product differentiation and maximum brand impact, there is an increasing demand for inks that are capable of printing onto more ‘difficult’ substrates. These are typically low surface-energy materials such as PE or OPP, which are designed to be non-stick. This presents a major challenge to ink chemists to formulate inks that are capable of adhering to them. As a result, there has been a requirement for the development of cost effective inkjet inks suited to these applications.
Needham Inks offer a full range of inks which are suitable for use in CIJ printers. These inks are designed to work in all CIJ printer models and are tested to ensure they are 100% compatible with the original equipment manufacturer’s inks. The company’s ink solutions can offer savings of up to 70% when compared to OEM inks.
As with many industries, customers are looking to reduce costs and Needham Inks has developed a range of inkjet inks that reflect this trend. There is no need or obligation on businesses to buy ink from the printer manufacturer. Needham Inks produce very high-quality yet cost-effective inkjet inks, which perform to the exact same standards as OEM fluids.
In recent years, Needham Inks has diversified into other areas of inkjet printing such as industrial drop-on-demand and wide-format
printing. It has adopted the same approach in these areas and developed a range of fully compatible inkjet inks which offer the same performance as OEM fluids, but at a reduced cost. For example, several Needham Inks’ customers who are using wide-format presses have been able to cut their ink costs by over 50% as a result of switching ink supplier.
Needham Inks has recently finished the development of a range of aqueous inkjet inks which are suitable for use in wide-format presses that utilise Epson printheads. These inks are based on a new CMYK colour set, which enables the printer to produce a far wider colour gamut, whilst simultaneously reducing ink consumption.
Needham Inks was founded in 1962 as a distributor of coding and marking products. The first inks the company developed were for use in felt-tip pens but it then developed a range of inks for markers for use in industrial applications. In the early 1990’s inkjet printing was identified as a growing technology and it was decided to focus efforts on inkjet inks for industrial applications. Initially the focus was on inks for CIJ printers, but the product range has now expanded to include inks for almost all types of inkjet printing technology.
Needham Inks manufactures a wide range of inks, but its main areas of specialty are CIJ inkjet inks and wide-format inkjet printing inks. It currently produces over 3000 ink formulations, all of which have been developed by its own in-house team of chemists.