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Why it is so hard to make UV-curable inkjet printers with white ink? Print E-mail

Titanium dioxide is difficult to handle inside an ink delivery system. So unless your printer has a means to keep it stirred, the white ink may cause problems. This is really a good case of "stirred not shaken" since shaking the ink too much is not good for it either.

We too are curious about why more UV-curable inkjet printers don't offer white ink. So we are adding answers to this query to our FLAAR Reports on UV-curable flatbed inkjet printers. We are proud that currently FLAAR has the most comprehensive coverage of UV-curable inkjet printers available. But more importantly, FLAAR is independent, so our reports can reveal the pros and cons of UV-curable technology.

The independent nature of FLAAR Reports is crucial, because UV-curable white ink is a tricky substance to work with. In other words, merely adding white ink to the spec sheet is no guarantee whatsoever that the white ink actually functions as claimed (and will continue functioning all year every year during the lifespan of the printer).

If you are about to spend almost half a million dollars, surely it is worthwhile making an initial investment in the FLAAR Reports on UV-curable inkjet printers.

If you wish a discrete private consultant to help your screen printing company or sign shop decide what UV-curable ink printer to select, you can arrange for Dr Hellmuth to come to your offices anywhere in the world. Plus you can hire Nicholas to accompany you to the next trade show and perhaps get access to full disclosure that you might not get as a regular visitor.

But first, be sure to arm yourself with the FLAAR Reports on UV-curable inkjet printing. We reveal which printers use white, whether it works or not, and generally help you see the results of using white UV-curable ink in flatbed and roll-to-roll wide format printers.

GRAPO Gemini UV flatbed printer with roll-to-roll and white options
Here is the GRAPO Gemini UV flatbed printer with roll-to-roll and white options at FESPA Munich trade show, 2010.

VIRTU RS35 from WP Digital
The VIRTU RS35 from WP Digital is a large-format UV digital printer, uses a white ink as spot color or for sub or top printing.

What about white ink for water-based printers?

So far no HP Designjet or Canon ipf water-based wide-format printer offers white ink. There is not enough market for this kind of ink for water-based printer applications. But the Epson Stylus Pro WT7900 offers white ink for proofing packaging designs on special material. Just realize this is NOT a white ink for general purposes; it is made only for one single application: proofing packaging on limited range of materials. End-users say that this atypical white ink either does not dry or does not stick to most other materials.

EFI VUTEk GS3200 is a flatbed and roll-to-roll UV printer
EFI VUTEk GS3200 is a flatbed and roll-to-roll UV printer. This machine print with 8 colors + 2 white at up to 1200 square feet per hour.

What alternatives are there to having white ink?

You primarily need white ink on black or dark materials, so if you use white media then you don't need white ink. But, another use of white ink is on translucent materials, for backlit. Here you want white in some locations but not in all locations. And, you may want white more opaque behind some colors than behind other colors. In this case white ink works better than white material.

If you need to learn more about the history of white ink?

If you seek information on the history of white ink, this is a question that patent lawyers come to FLAAR to ask. Write This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to ask for the consultanting brochure. Indicate whether you are a printshop wanting to know which white ink to use, or are a manufacturer, patent lawyer, etc. The patents relative to white UV-curable ink are a long story and it helps to have some historical perspective from an independent resource such as FLAAR.

What about spot varnish?

There are many ways to highlight aspects of your scene: spot varnish is a feature that Durst has highlighted for their Rho for several years. Just realize that if you don't need spot varnish, then best to avoid experimenting with it. Spot varnish is sort of an all-or-nothing situation. Spot varnish is not ideal to use one day and then again not for several weeks.

The head engineer of one company told me, “Nicholas, to provide reliable spot varnish is an engineering nightmare, especially if the varnish is not used every day. But even then, it is better to have the spot varnish applied by a separate machine.”

Plus, varnish is decorative, not protective. If you need a clearcoat to provide an effect, then consider the Drytac UV-cured top-coating system.


Most recently updated August 9, 2010.

First posted June 1, 2004 based on 10 days scrutiny of printers at DRUPA trade show in Germany. Updated October 22, 2004, after Photokina, SGIA, and GraphExpo trade shows. Updated Jan. 5, 2006 and June 18, 2009.



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