|Two kinds of inks are used in Roland, Mimaki, Mutoh: eco-solvent and mild-solvent|
Mild-solvent is also called low-solvent or lite-solvent. There are no industry-wide definitions but I consider mild-solvent, low-solvent, and lite-solvent all similar.
These are all different from eco-solvent. Eco-solvent requires more coated media (which is more expensive). Mild-solvent requires less coated material, so is lower cost to use. The best known examples of mild-solvent inks are the current Seiko ColorPainter printers and their earlier versions (rebranded as the HP Designjet 8000s, 9000s, and 10000s).
Since Sam-Ink already successfully makes mild-solvent for the HP Designjet 8000s, 9000s, and 10000s, it was relatively easy for Sam Ink to make a similar ink for Roland, Mimaki, and Mutoh. This mild-solvent ink also works in most other printers which use DX 5 printheads from Epson.
Be sure to check which DX printheads your printer has, and which the ink is best for (realize that Epson itself tries to hide what model of printheads they use; Epson does not want anyone to use an after-market ink because obviously Epson wants the profit).
This ink is new, so I have evaluated it so far in one printshop
I went to Singapore to evaluate several new inks. One of them was this ink being used with Epson DX 5 printheads. This ink was being used in a Chinese printer from AStarjet. These are essentially the same Epson printheads as used in a Roland, Mimaki, or Mutoh printer, as well as in several other Chinese printers.
You need to select which ink to choose
I made a rough count of the brands of inks which already offer a comparable ink for Roland, Mimaki, and Mutoh. All you have to do is visit any sign printing expo, anywhere in the world, and you will see several of these companies. If you go to the larger international expos you will see about 75% of these at a single trade show.
The after-market ink companies that I know the best are AT Inks and Sam Ink, for several reasons. First, I have been to the ink factory of AT Inks in India, and I have visited end-users, both in India and in Guatemala. In both cases the end-users preferred AT Inks over the big-name brands that came with the printers.
I know Sam Ink because I have visited their headquarters, ink factory, R&D facilities twice. Plus I have visited about four or five end-users who utilize their inks. In all cases they prefer Sam-Ink to the original inks.
AT Inks (India)
Sunflower (Sun LLC, Russia)
InkBank (unsure whether manufacturer or distributor)
For an evaluation of inks we need to know the company, the inks, and to visit end-users. Several ink companies have offered to pay to advertise on the FLAAR site. We appreciate their recognition of the clout we have with our huge international readership, but we should not advertise an ink that we do not know. We need to fly to the ink company and inspect the ink in their demo room, and then visit end-users.
One difference among some bulk ink companies, when you switch to an after-market ink, the ink company hopes you will just keep buying their ink (without them actually providing tech support). Here is where Sam Ink is different. The franchise staff in each country are trained in the ink factory how to handle each ink and each major printer. So it is more than buying an ink, you are acquiring an ink partner that will assist your company.
We heard about one ink company in China that offered solvent ink for $8 a liter. But a distributor who tried it said "it lasted only a few weeks outside before the colors faded." In other words, for every dollar you got about one week of outdoor longevity. You get what you pay for. As a side comment, however, there are one or two good ink companies in China. FLAAR hopes to visit more of them during 2011. But in the meantime we have already found two good quality ink companies: Sam Ink and AT Inks.
Sam-Ink is made in Singapore, a high-tech area of the world.
How do we learn about an ink?
Wide Format Printers