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STP500-EB/Jun.

1972

CHAPTER 8.11

PRINTING INK
C. T. Ray

8.11.1 Introduction
Printing ink is an intimate mixture of
pigments, varnishes, driers, solvents, and
quite frequently, waxy and greasy compounds. Occasionally, inks also contain
small amounts of special additives such as
flow agents, plasticizers, antioxidants,
deodorants, and perfume oils, particularly
when it is desired to impart special characteristics to the ink. This definition at
best is only a generalization and needs
considerable amplification before it has
any practical value. A printing ink must
have the proper viscosity, length,flow,and
tack in order to be suitable for the particular press or printing process on which
it is to be used. In addition, the substrate
on which the ink is to be printed dictates
in a large measure the characteristics of the
ink. It is essential that inks designed for
different processes possess different physical
characteristics in order to ensure proper
distribution on the roller system of the
various presses and proper transfer therefrom to the plate or type and then to the
paper or other substrate. The ink must
print sharply and give legible prints of the
desired color. It must also dry fast enough
to permit handling without ofi^setting or
smudging.
Frequently the question is asked "How
do printing inks differ from paints?"
According to Apps [ly, paints are designed to form a surface coating that
protects and decorates an object or surface,
and are seldom used or applied in intricate
patterns that stand out in contrast to the
background. Printing inks, on the other
hand, contain pigments that are more
finely dispersed, necessary if ink is to
reproduce the fine detail present in any
image. In addition, inkfilmsare only about
one tenth as thick as paintfilms,and therefore must have greater hiding power.
Because of the thinness of ink films, the
undertone of the pigment is more important than with paints where the masstone is the all important characteristic.
Inks are also applied by more complex
methods, and this frequently means that
complicated rheological properties have to
be satisfied. Also, printing inks are applied
at a much higher speed.

Although inks and paints are manufactured for different purposes, there are
nevertheless similarities in their composition. Both products use very similar and in
some cases identical raw materials in their
manufacture. This simple fact is an excellent reason for close cooperation between
the ink and paint manufacturers, particularly in the fields of research and
development of new pigments, vehicles,
driers, and other raw materials.
8.11.2 Types of Inks
There are three main classes of printing
inks: typographic, planographic, and
intaglio. These correspond to the three
main divisions of the Graphic Arts Industry. Each will be discussed briefly.

around the press cylinder. The ink image is


transferred or offset onto a sheet of rubber
called a "blanket" that is fitted around
another press cylinder. This transferred
image is then impressed or offset onto the
paper or substrate.
Lithographic printing is very thin; therefore, as much pigment as possible must be
ground into the vehicle consistent within
the limits of length, lifting, and gripping
qualities imposed by the process. However,
the ink must not be too tacky or it will
tear the paper and destroy the image on
the plate. Water containing small quantities
of dilute acids is generally used to dampen
the nonprinting areas of the stone or plate.
Therefore, any material soluble in dilute
acids or water must not be present in
hthographic inks.

8.11.2.1 Typographic Process and Typographic Inks


The typographic process of printing is
also called letterpress or relief printing and
is characterized by the transfer of the ink
to the paper by a raised surface. It is used
to print from type, metal plates, rubber
plates, or plastic plates, including both
line and halftone cuts. Typographic inks
are made usually from soft pigments
ground in vehicles composed essentially of
heat-bodied linseed oil or synthetic resins
dispersed in drying oils and solvents.

8.11.2.3 Intaglio Process and Intaglio Inks


The intaglio process of printing is characterized by the design being etched or
engraved as grooves below the surface of
the metal plate or cylinder. The design may
be produced on steel or copper plates by
engraving, die stamping, or by a photographic process (photogravure, rotogravure). The intaglio process is ideally
suited and is used for the printing of
revenue stamps, postage stamps, bonds,
currency, and other negotiable documents,
wedding invitations, and stationery. Roto8.11.2.2 Planographic Process and Piano-gravure inks can be made with almost any
graphic Inks
pigment. However, the end use generally is
Planographic or lithographic printing is a controlling factor in determining the
based on the chemical principle that grease composition of the binder. Binders are
and water are mutually repellant. In the carefully selected to provide the maximum
planographic process, both the image and adhesion to the printing surface. The denonimage areas of the plate are in the sired degree of gloss or matte finish is also
same plane, and the image or printing controlled by the binder. Rotogravure inks
areas are treated to render them receptive are divided into at least seven different
to ink, and the nonimage or nonprinting types. This is necessary because they are
areas are treated to make them receptive printed on many different kinds of stocks
to water. The lithographic process, as dis- (paper, films, foils, board, etc.).
covered by Senefelder in 1798, used a
TESTING
particular type of Bavarian limestone for
the printing plate, whence the name litho
Most of the test methods used by the
(stone). Senefelder's limestone was porous printing ink industry have been standand particularly well-suited for the process ardized by the National Association of
of lithography. However, Senefelder recog- Printing Ink Manufacturers and were
nized that limestone was not essential to his developed and published by the National
process and preferred the term "chemical Printing Ink Research Institute (NPIRI).
printing" for his invention. Lithography Copies may be obtained from NPIRI,
today utilizes a printing plate of thin zinc Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa. 18015.
or aluminum that is wrapped tightly Also, numerous test methods published by
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490

' The italic numbers in brackets refer to the list


of references appended to this chapter.
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