About printing ink

It’s been a long time since I wrote the last article, but I’ll talk about printing ink this time.

We will also introduce what types of printing ink are used, what types of products are used, and the relationship between printing ink and economic activity.

It is no exaggeration to say that in today’s civilized world, our lives and printing ink are inextricably tied to each other. Printed materials using printing ink increase proportionally to the level of culture, so it is also regarded as a barometer for the degree of civilization and economic conditions.


What is printing ink?

Printing ink literally refers to ink used in printing. Printing inks are used in many personal products. For example, we certainly use printing inks on a variety of things, such as the drinks and confectionery packages you have today, and the newspapers and the notes in your purse.


The popularization of printed materials is a barometer of the degree of civilization and economics.

Unlinking the history of modern printing in Japan, the introduction of printing technology from Europe at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate has promptly become popular since the Meiji era.

Newspapers, magazines, and books were published by printing technology to promote modern civilization.

At the same time as the advancement of printing technology, the level of culture has increased, and economic activity has also become vigorous, leading to the modern era.


What is the printing ink made of?

The main ingredients of printing ink are the following three.

  • Colouring agent
  • Vehicle
  • Auxiliary agent

What is a colorant?

Colorants are those that give the ink color as their name implies. It is responsible for determining properties such as color representation of printed materials, ink fluidity, gloss, and drying properties.

Colors are divided into pigments and dyes. Pigments are used for coloring paints and plastic products, and dyes are used for ink for textiles and ink jet printers.


What is the vehicle?

Vehicle is a liquid component made by mixing fats and oils, natural resins, synthetic resins, etc., and is also called “varnish.”

Vehicle means “luggage” in British, but the main role is to dissolve or disperse the pigment and carry it to the printing surface to dry solidify and stick.


What is an adjuvant?

Auxiliary agents are lubricants and hardeners, and they play a role in adjusting the fluidity and drying properties of ink.

The printing effect can be adjusted by changing the ink tone or adjusting the drying property by adding a small amount during ink production.



Printing ink types and uses

Appropriate raw materials are used for printing ink, depending on the printing material and method (plate type), the machine, and the presence or absence of post-processing.

Let’s look at a typical plate formula and what products are printed.


Lithographic ink (offset ink)

The lithographic ink is ink used in lithographic printing. This system transfers ink to paper and is used for printing posters, catalogs, magazines, flyers, books, calendars, textbooks, etc.

Incidentally, both lithographic printing and intaglio printing printing are used for printing of bills, and the accuracy is maintained.


Resin letterpress ink (flexographic ink)

Resin letterpress ink is ink used in letterpress printing. Since it is suitable for printing soft plates and uneven materials such as resin plates, it is used for plastic packaging materials such as rice bags and outer packaging of paper diapers in addition to corrugated cardboard, paper bags, wrapping paper, and envelopes.


Gravure ink

Gravure ink is used for gravure printing, which is one of intaglio printing. It is good at concentration expression and is used for food containers and packaging (soft packaging) such as confectionery bags, decorative plywood, furniture, building material wallpaper, cell phone, interior packaging of automobiles, etc.


Screen ink

Screen ink is ink used in the printing of perforated plates using mesh plates.

Not only paper, but also metal, glass, plastics, and cloth can be printed on a variety of items and printed on curved surfaces, such as cups and bottles, so they are used in automobile panels and other vehicle interior parts, as well as in a wide range of products, including home appliance panels, CDs and DVDs, toys, sign boards, and smartphone displays.


UV ink

UV inks are inks for each printing method, such as lithographic printing, letterpress printing, and stencil printing. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are subject to emission regulations under the Air Pollution Control Law, have attracted attention as environmentally friendly inks, and switching from solvent inks is advancing.


Specialty ink

Specialty functional inks are used for lithographic printing and screen printing, which is a type of letterpress printing.

This ink has a wide variety of functions, allowing magnetic properties, luminescence, and special effects to be added during printing.
Although the amount of ink used is very low, it is used in liquid crystal televisions and electronic boards.


Newspaper ink

Newspaper ink is an ink used for printing newspapers made in lithographic printing.

It is an ink that can withstand the overwhelming printing speed. It is used not only in newspapers, but also in publicity magazines, etc.
Soybean ink using soybean oil has been used for most newspaper inks and lithographic inks, but in recent years, from the viewpoint of securing edible grains, the expansion of food oil inks other than soybean oil has begun to be promoted.


Please read it together!

Types of printing methods are explained in Movie!

Print Type


Printing ink and cleaning

Organic solvent-based cleaners are used to clean printing inks.
In the past, a printing ink company used carcinogenic organic solvents such as dichloromethane (methylene chloride and methylene chloride), which led to the deaths of cholangiocarcinoma.
Since then, the printing industry has adopted low-hazard cleaning agents and has been thoroughly taking measures against steam when using organic solvents.
A less hazardous cleaning agent is a cleaning agent that does not fall under the Organic Solvent Poisoning Prevention Rule or the Specific Chemical Substance Disorder Prevention Rule.

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Printing ink detergents applicable to Sankyo Chemical’s organic rules and specialization




Relationship between printing and economic activity.

Production and shipment volumes of publishing ink and the value of shipments have been decreasing year by year due to factors such as a decline in newspaper circulation resulting from digitization and the spread of smartphones.
In addition, due to the impact of the new Corona Virus, printing materials and advertising for events declined, and the performance of ink manufacturers, regardless of company size, declined.
On the other hand, demand for environmentally friendly UV inks and soft packaging inks used for food packaging, mainly in emerging countries, is rising.
According to a survey conducted by Fuji Keizai Co., Ltd., a comprehensive marketing business, entitled “The Fuji Keizai, 2020 Functional Ink Market Overview,” the global market for functional inks is expected to expand in 2023.
UV inks and flexible packaging inks are expected to increase 16.7% and 10.6%, respectively, from 2019, prior to Corona.
The future expansion of the printing ink market will require a further reduction in environmental impact in addition to the richness of our lives.







2020 機能性インキ市場の全貌 | 調査レポート | 富士経済グループ

機能性インキの世界市場を調査|Fuji Keizai Groupプレスリリース




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  • しみぬき工房 つづれや 田川芳弘 より:


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