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Opaque Inks: what you need to know

Have you ever been looking at what ink to order for your next project and wondered what the difference is between opaque inks and non-opaque inks? Well, ink opacity (also known as ink density) is a measurement of how much light a layer of ink allows to pass through it. With an opaque ink, the print will result in colors that are more vibrant and bold while the whites are very bright. Let’s say, for example, we are printing a light color on a dark part. Often, light ink printed on a dark part appears not as vibrant even when more than half the ink coverage on the design is white. Most customers automatically think the printing plate is causing this, however it’s possible that the printing plate is just fine and the print issue is caused by something else like the opacity of the ink.

Ink being poured into a cup

It is very important that the correct ink system is being used for the product’s material. If the ink binder system is not compatible with the product’s material the ink may not transfer properly, and in most cases, it might not even adhere when cured. Inks are made up of a resin that is used for specific materials and pigment that makes the ink the proper color; pigments blend better when milled together. Most quality pad printing inks are milled to 3 microns, thus giving the ink more hiding power. If the ink is specifically made for screen printing, the micron size will be larger which gives the ink less hiding power when used in pad printing. Screen printing inks are often used due to their more attractive price. Screen printing inks tend to be less expensive because they are milled to a larger micron size; the time to produce the ink is much less, and it does not need to be milled as many times to get the 3 micron size of the pad printing inks.

These are just a few of the reasons that the opacity of the ink is critical to the overall print. Diversified Printing Techniques has worked on many different projects where the opacity of the ink is crucial to the success of the print. Our sales team works with our customers to ensure that every requirement is not only met, but exceeded by recommending the best ink combinations to work within specific applications.


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