Sawgrass M ink from Sawgrass Europe Print

Sawgrass M ink has been around for a year or so, in the booth of Sawgrass Europe at occasional trade shows. The advertisements say it can print on wallpapers, leathers, textiles, canvas, metal: the same materials listed as printable by over 45 manufacturers of UV-curable ink flatbed hybrid or combo printers. The difference is that there are over 101 different printers that use UV-cured on a daily basis.

Sawgrass Europe booth at FESPA Amsterdam trade show 2009.

I am still looking for a printer manufacturer that uses M ink from Sawgrass Europe.

FLAAR would consider evaluating M ink, but we need to find it first. I went to Switzerland in February 2009 (home of Sawgrass Europe) but since there was no response I went instead to Sensient ink for two days and then to study UV-cured ink at WP Digital for several days. The UV-curable ink used by WP Digital also prints on wallpapers, leather, textiles, canvas, awnings, and even glass and acrylics. FLAAR has issued an entire report on all the materials that UV-cured ink prints on.

Other ink options

FLAAR is offering personalized consulting at each trade show. You can walk-the-floor with the Senior Editor of FLAAR and get his comments on any and all printers, inks, RIP software, color management, substrates, applications, etc.

So if you wish to learn about the difference between combo, hybrid, and dedicated UV printers, how latex ink compares, about textile printers, etc. contact FLAAR to obtain consulting.

You can also get consulting before ISA or FESPA anywhere in the world: Dubai, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, China, Korea, London and more.

Bio-solvent ink made headlines three years ago, but fizzled since then. Even VUTEk dropped using it (but still makes it for Mutoh). Fortunately the current generation of MuBIO ink works much better than the first two generations, but until more than a single brand name manufacturer uses an ink, its market share will be modest.

Staedtler Lumocolor had considerable promise five years ago, but their corporate strategy was not realistic. The result was that they did not get any major manufacturers signed up, so remained a niche-market product. There is no major manufacturer today who has Lumocolor in view. It was sad to see an ink that had potential simply not be able to adapt to wide-format printer reality (the power politics of the printhead and printer manufacturer traditions).

“Miracle ink” which is an OEM product from Japan or Korea via Eastech also never went anywhere, for several of the same reasons as other inks failed: it is as much the chemistry of the company (an intended pun) as the chemistry of the ink itself.

I have seen how three different inks went nowhere slowly. So for our new clients we can explain what has caused inks not to be accepted. It is relatively straightforward what steps are essential (and which steps will throw away any advantage the ink has).

Presently three or four new inks have potential, in their chemical capabilities, to supplant solvent (all flavors), definitely to do better than latex ink, and gradually replace normal water-based inks. It is sad to see one of these four new inks making most of the same mistakes as the three inks that failed between 2004-2008 (Staedtler, Miracle, etc). Note: “failed” does not mean the inks are bad; does not mean the inks do not work. “Failed” means that less than 1% of the market uses these inks because of how the company tries to market the ink.

Kiian and Sepiax inks are two of the promising new inks. Neither is a failed-ink (both are too new). Both manufacturers have a good reputation, have not made serious mistakes (neither chemical mistakes nor have their personnel, policies, or practices irritated people in the industry).

Sepiax water-based ink testing and evaluation
FLAAR testing and evaluation of Sepiax water-based ink in demo room of Sepiax Ink Technology in Austria. Nicholas at left; Karl Ebner, Matteo Lagomarsino, Franz Aigner (all of Sepiax) and Tina Kosir, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, assisting FLAAR at FESPA and on digital imaging projects.

Sepiax inks company reviews
Sepiax inks have a good reputation. Here printing samples for FLAAR at the demo room.

I have visited the world headquartes of the textile ink division of Sensient ink, in Mortsel, Switzerland. I would include this as an ink with considerable potential, but this is primarily a textile ink. Its makers and marketers do not intend that this ink be used on general signage material (other than on soft signage).

I have visited the main demo room of Eastech ink in Asia and tested this ink over a two day period. My comments are readily available though obviously there is a lot of behind-the-scenes observations that are not in the written form of the report. This ink is an excellent example how an ink can fail in the marketplace even when the chemical components are good.

The week after FESPA 2009, since I was already in Europe anyway, I spent two days at the main demo room of Sepiax ink. This made it possible to provide the Sepiax company with pertinent aspects of the FLAAR Trends reports, both in full-color PDF format as well as in detailed discussions. This material is available only to Subscribers, Research Sponsors, or companies that hire FLAAR as a consultant or on retainer.

In the next nine months you will see Kiian inks and Sepiax inks move forward. There are probably other inks still in labs elsewhere in the world that will gradually be released. Sepiax said that much of the traffic to their company came from the FLAAR web site. If 340,000 people come to our UV+solvent ink printer site, it is logical that a portion of this number will be interested in new innovative inks. Another million people around the world read the several FLAAR web sites that speak of water-based inks. So again, this is a great location to broadcast a message about exciting new inks that will gradually replace eco-solvent, mild-solvent, full-solvent, bio-solvent, latex, and offer options for many aspects of UV-cured ink.


First posted May 20, 2009.