FLAAR Reports visits ink factory of STS Inks to begin evaluation Print

Starting in June 2014 we are evaluating the ink of STS Inks

Our long-range goal is to assist print shop owners and distributors around the world to have a reasonable range of after-market inks to choose from. Many distributors come to FLAAR to ask what ink brands should they distribute. Print shop owners around the world also ask for help.

It is bad PR for printer manufacturers to block or even hassle end-users who prefer to use after-market inks. Actually in China Mimaki and many other brands intelligently remove any obstacles to using after-market ink.

If an after-market ink causes damage, the ink company or reseller should provide service and tech support. But in most cases Epson printheads clog no matter what (even with their own ink). So no ink is perfect.  Plus most printer manufacturers don’t make their own ink anyway.

And some of the ink companies who are providing ink for OEM printer manufacturers also sell comparable ink as after-market! So you might as well study which after-market ink will work acceptably.

Notice the word acceptably: no ink is perfect (not even from Epson or HP or Canon or Roland). Every ink manufacturer has a “bad hair day.” The ink factory supplying for Seiko had a bad batch about eight years ago. This ink caused significant problems in printshops around the world.

No matter whether the ink company is a Fortune 500 status brand, or made in a small factory, not all ink is all perfect. So we go around the world to trade shows to study and learn which ink brands have a good record and will work acceptably in most situations (extreme heat, humidity, dust can also cause issues in a printshop even if the ink were perfect). The chip and firmware in a printer also causes issues. So the blame is not really always the ink.

After getting to know the staff of STS Inks and after visiting their factory, we have now initiated an evaluating of their inks. This page is mostly about their ink for Epson DX printheads in Epson Stylus Pro 10000. In the future we would consider evaluating their UV-cured inks, but that is a longer more expensive project. So let’s start with ink for Epson DX printheads.

Epson Stylus Pro 4800, 4880
Epson Stylus Pro 4000, 7600, 9699
Epson Stylus Pro 7000, 9000
Epson Stylus Pro 7700, 7890, 7900, 9700, 9890, 9900
Epson Stylus Pro 7800, 9800
Epson Stylus Pro 7880, 9880
Epson Stylus Pro 7500, 9500
Epson Stylus Pro GS6000

I have noticed that often the same Epson Stylus Pro printer has a slightly different model number, especially the models exhibited in China.

Epson SureColor printers (the new low-bid ones made in China) have a rather iffy record, and are not mature enough to be evaluated. The earlier Epson printers, such as the Epson Stylus Pro GS6000 were better and more robust (these were manufactured for Epson by Mutoh in Japan).

How do we select an ink company to evaluate? First step is visiting the company headquarters

We have visited ink company factories around the world. We are under NDA (non-disclosure agreement, usually verbal handshake on being discrete) when we visit their R&D labs, but it helps to know whether an ink company is actually manufacturing their own ink, or not.

Many companies which sell dozens of different kinds of ink actually manufacture some of it but rebrand some other kinds of inks. What is important is that the company have ink chemists, have testing facilities, and have the ability to make several kinds of ink. If they rebrand some special kinds of ink, this is not a surprise. We experienced plenty of ink manufacturing when we visited the STS Inks company headquarters.

STS Inks Headquarters at Boca Raton, Florida
Nicholas Hellmuth at STS Inks


Visiting the company booth at a trade show is second step.

After we have visited the factory and headquarters, then we get to know the ink company further by visiting their booth at trade shows. We have inspected the STS Ins booth at printer expos in many countries. Indeed to show the coverage of this company around the world we are producing a photo essay on their booths.

STS Inks Booth at GOA 2014


Third step is visiting end-users (customers, meaning a print shop)

We call this a site-visit case study. We will undertake this step later this year. A site-visit is visiting a print shop or in-house printing department, who is using the ink we are evaluating.

STS Inks sample Ink


How do we select an ink company to evaluate? The staff, the managers, the team, are also important

In addition to visiting the booth, naturally we learn about the company, and their staff. A fact of life that we rate highly is whether individuals (sales reps,  managers, booth personnel) are hospitable, pleasant, etc. Or are they unhospitable or simply not the kind of individuals we would recommend. Frankly we rate the staff and booth personnel of STS Inks as at the optimum level: knowledgeable as well as hospitable.

STS Inks factory Staff and Nicholas Hellmuth
STS Inks factory Staff


First posted June 2014
After having visited the STS Inks factory in Boca Raton, Florida, and having visited their booth at trade shows the last several years.