As FLAAR grows in coverage of digital imaging and readership, we are adding FLAAR Reports on after-market third-party generic inks Print
AT Inks, After-market inks
AT Inks booth was at the FESPA Amsterdam trade show 2009.

Because FLAAR is read world-wide, and especially since the FLAAR Reports have become a de-facto resource for reviews, evaluations, and help in understanding the pros and cons of digital imaging, we are continuing to enter the world of after-market third party ink.

We avoided aftermarket third-party ink for the first seven years because we received over 27 water-based inkjet printers for evaluation. Most of our readers wished to learn how these HP, Canon, and Epson printers functioned with their original OEM ink.
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Sam Ink booth at Sign Istanbul 2010.

Ink mixing tank at Sam Ink.

But as FLAAR moved into covering UV-curable flatbed printers, eco-solvent, mild-solvent, bio-solvent, and grand-format full-solvent based inks, more and more of our readers asked about our opinions about third-party after-market inkjet inks.

So we have taken on this challenge. Indeed by 2008 we had visited three ink development and testing labs: NUR in Israel, a week at Bordeaux in Israel (on a separate trip), and a week at the headquarters of Sun LLC and Sunflower ink in Russia (no relationship to Sun Chemical). But this was all seven years ago. Since then we have been to Sam-Ink factory three times, to the Hongsam ink world headquarters three times. Indeed in 2014 alone we have been to three ink factories.

So for 2014 we are opening an Inquiry Form so that print shop owners and managers, and distributors of signage printers around the world can have access to more of our FLAAR Reports on inks.

There are three levels of FLAAR Reports on ink:

First level are the in-depth lists and tabulations of each and every ink company who exhibits at major print expos around the world.

If you have a Subscription, you receive each new ink report as it comes out. They are sent to you automatically.

If no subscription, you can order individual FLAAR Reports on inks one-by-one (though if you ask for them all at once we lower the price by at least 10%).

If you want more introductory information, we will be offering an entire series of publications. Simply fill out the Ink Inquiry Form, and ask to be put on the list, and we will send you all the reports in this introductory class.

If you simply want to download reports on ink factories which we have visited recently, these you can simply CLICK on, and download them instantly. But unless you send us the Inquiry Form, we have no way to send you other reports later.

I have not yet visited only the Triangle INX office, not their actual factory(s), but they are an ink company that I see at most major trade shows around the world.

 

Nicholas Hellmuth inspecting AT Inks in Guatemala.

Large OEM ink companies are also becoming third-party after-market suppliers

Sun Chemical is moving more and more into offering ink as after-market under the Streamline brand name.

But one of their inks was rebranded (ironically rebranded Sepiax). But Sun dropped that ink quickly.

Fujifilm, owner of Sericol, shows Sericol ink in printers that are not made by Fujifilm.In other words, they too are seeking sales into the after-market ink world.

Other companies we are curious about

Van Son is a booth I see frequently at trade shows. They are a huge company, but I have not seen their inks when I visit digital printshops and sign shops. Van Son seems to have entered inkjet several years ago but then dropped out of wide-format inkjet a few years later.

One person told us they are now rebranding ink; another individual claimed that Van Son made their own inkjet ink; but since most ink companies are rebranding, we would need to see an actual ink factory to know for sure.

Lyson is another company I saw at most major trade shows in the US and Europe (15 years ago). They were bought by Nazdar, which makes Lyson now all the more interesting. But when I inspected a sign shop in Guatemala, they said they used to use Lyson but it clogged the heads of their Chinese solvent printer, so they switched to another ink, which they said was better.

Pantone ColorVantage; but they were recently bought by X-Rite, so we will have to wait and see if they continue in the third party ink market. I have not noticed them at most expos in the last several years.

Clearstar Coatings JetStar solvent ink is a product I don't see much, since I know Clearstar Coatings primarily for their coatings. It has been rumored that Clearstar was bought by a German ink company.

MegaInk is a company I see occasionally at trade shows but there are more booths at each show than there is time to visit them all.

Other after-market ink companies

There are hundreds of small ink companies from China, Taiwan, Korea and India. You see them at the trade show in Shanghai, Istanbul, Italy. Many will be at FESPA, ISA, SGIA, etc.

We feature an ink company when they catch our attention. I had never heard of Sunflower ink before I happened to notice their booth at a Dubai print and packaging trade show in early 2007. What they showed me in the booth was sufficiently interesting that I made a trip to far-away Novosibirsk, Russia and spent a week learning more about their company. Three FLAAR Reports have resulted from this visit. But then the manufacturer stopped exhibiting at trade shows (no longer even at Russian printer expos).

There is an ink company in India that I see exhibiting every year, both in Asia, Europe, and the US. They look like a professional group. But they stopped exhibiting at most major international expos over the last three years.

Naturally FLAAR is not inspired to study ink by a company which is not successful enough to exhibit at expos. But we have also found out that merely having a booth at lots of expos does not make your ink any better (or even good). But if you are not at the expos, this is a yellow flag for most distributors, print shop owners, and for our evaluation team also.

So if other ink companies make an impression on us as we visit a trade show, we will consider adding them to our coverage. Over 340,000 people a year, in over 62 countries, read this large-format web site (in 2008). Another 400,000+ people read our FLAAR Reports about water-based printers on www.wide-format-printers.org , www.FineArtGicleePrinters.org , and www.digital-photography.org (actually its more like close to one million readers readers if you add all our web sites together together).

NUR, aftermarket inks
Dr. Hellmuth made a factory visit for NUR, in this photo you can see NUR ink lab.

Inkwin after-market inks
Here is Nicholas Hellmuth (left) at Inkwin headquarters . Dr. Hellmuth made a factory visit in this company last year.

Sunflower after-market third-party inkjet
Sunflower ink factory, 2007.

 

Color Management Reports
Glossary of terms on color management
Book reviews of publications on color management
Book reviews of publications on color management

 

 Most recently updated March 28, 2014.

First posted September 17, 2007. Updated Jan 26, 2009.