Printing is an art form that has been around for thousands of years. It also involves interesting scientific principles, and knowledge of these can make your printing work far easier and more professional at the same time. The objective is to get the ink on a desired surface and make sure it stays there. While this is happening, you also want to try to maximize the amount of time you invest in the process, so you can turn a nice profit. There are some basic things to keep in mind while this is happening, and knowledge of these factors can be a huge plus when it comes to making sure you’re earning as much as you need to. Let’s first talk about the principles behind printing, and we will then get into some specific printing considerations.
How Printing Works
Printing is essentially controlled staining. When something has a stain, there is a bonding process between a foreign substance and the target substance. Some things are very hard to stain due to a lack of fibrous or porous material. Others stain quite easily. Others will stain well, but then the stain can come off when exposed to other elements. Printing usually involves the staining of paper or cloth, which are similar in their basic makeup. When the ink interacts with the fibers, the process of adhesion occurs. Adhesion is when two different substances attract each other. It is commonly seen around the home. For example, when a sponge soaks up water, adhesion initially bonds the water to the fibers of the sponge. They are then kept inside the sponge by adhesion until the sponge is squeezed out. The pressure of the squeezing is enough to break the adhesive bonds. When something is printed onto something else, adhesion gets the liquid to attach to the surface. The dyes inside the liquid then being to fuse into the fibers of the target surface.
Once they start to fuse, they bond with them. A dyed substance, when examined closely is really composed of the original surface and very tiny dots of the dye that are linked to the target surface. The different types of ink used when printing each have properties that make them better fit for different types of printing. Keeping these principles in mind will help inform the printing process of everything from paper to t-shirts to labels.
Different Types of Ink
Some people don’t know that ink varies in type quite drastically. There is both liquid ink and solid ink, for example. Liquid ink is what many people think all ink is. Liquid ink is applied by the application of microscopic droplets that are absorbed into paper or another surface. Liquid ink tend to come in to basic formats: dye-based and pigment-based. Dye-based inks tend to cost less. But the lower cost has an effect as well. The inks have a tendency to fade over time. This process is sped up by exposure to ultraviolet light. If you’re ever seen construction paper on the wall of a teacher’s classroom that previously had something over it, the effects of ultraviolet light are obvious. The paper will be lighter in the exposed areas. Pigment-based inks cost more but they are more resistant to fading. For many applications, pigment based inks are worth the extra money spent due to the longevity they provide the end product. On the other end of the spectrum, we have solid ink. Solid ink begins as ink trapped in wax. This is then melted during the printing process and the ink is transferred to the paper. This is used in custom labels, custom high gloss labels, label printers, and even polyester labels. The ink is able to effectively bond with all of these surfaces.
How Does a Heat Press Work?
A heat press uses heat to enhance the printing process. When a heat press is applied, the heat involved helps prepare the surface to receive the ink. The ink’s natural viscosity allows it to be affected by the heat press as well. Thus, the heat press does a better job of both getting the surface ready and priming the ink to be transferred onto it. If the heating function weren’t present, the printing may not work at all because the inks depend on the heat.