Inkjet Printing Materials
What is the difference between solvent-based and water-based ink?
In water-based inkjet inks the coloration has been chemically bonded to the liquid portion of the ink, forming a “solution.” In contrast, solvent inks are “suspensions.” That is, particles of coloration are suspended within a liquid and held between water molecules. The water-based ink seeps into the paper substrate more easily than solvent-based ink, which primarily sit up on the surface of the paper.
Although this has been changing over time as ink manufacturers have improved their ink chemistry, water-based inks are brighter and have a wider color range than solvent-based inks. In contrast, solvent inks have a longer life span and are more color-fast than water-based ink. (Water-based inks fade more quickly than solvent inks, particularly if unprotected by lamination, exposed to sunlight, or printed on substrates that chemically interact with the dyes.)
A good rule of thumb is that for short-term indoor use, both water-based dye and solvent inks are fine. However, for protection of the large-format prints against the elements (water, wind, and sunlight), you should laminate both water and solvent based inkjet prints if you plan to use them outdoors.
Solvent-based inks allow you to print on a much wider range of substrates than water-based dye or pigment inks. They are also more durable and light-fast when used for exterior signage. Since these inks are composed of pigments held within a liquid base of solvents, they are more difficult to work with and require more care than water-based inks. In addition, there are now eco-solvent inks that are more eco-friendly. However, they cannot be printed on as wide a range of surfaces as traditional solvent based inks.
Compared to water-based ink
Water-based inks is the result of the dye chemically bonded to the liquid to form ink. This results in a printing that is soaked into the fabric creating a brighter and wider color range than solvent-based inks. Its composition of water does allow it to fade a little bit faster than solvent inks if not laminated correctly. However, all water-based printing should be laminated to preserve the rich color tones after printing.
Compared to solvent-based ink