Ink means different things to different people.

Ink is used to refer to tattoos and for some people the word “Ink” takes on an old-fashioned ideal of the inkwell and pen. The point is that ink has been around for centuries and has been used for writing great poems, scintillating stories, poetic plays, college essays, dissertations, book reports, music and lyrics, and other compositions. Ink used to be made by mixing charcoal with water and oils to create a variety of writings and historical documents. The basic process is the same, but its merged with new technologies.

Ink is also used for marking, coding, and imprinting, which is its primary use for industrial inks. How is industrial ink made? If you bake or cook in the kitchen, you usually have a recipe to follow so your cake, dinner, or other recipes come out right. That concept is simple, but it’s pretty much how industrial ink is made. The difference is in the ingredients. Different “recipes” create different colors and consistencies for corresponding applications and printers. For instance, coding ink is produced using flushed color pigments or from dry pigments.

Look at a newspaper and you’ll see black words on white/off-white paper.

Carbon black dry pigment is used to create that ink and then it’s used to print on the substrate, which is paper. Newspaper ink is created using the same basic ingredients and process mentioned in the introduction. Carbon black dry pigment is mixed with soybean or petroleum oil or water. Resin is added to make sure the ink adheres to the paper. It’s basically the same concept as ink, the inkwell, and writing on parchment, only more mechanical.

Once the industrial revolution started, the need for faster and more efficient ways of printing became necessary. That meant that ink also had to be mass produced and efficient for publications. Just after the industrial revolution, carbon black pigment was dry-packed and delivered to print shops who sold it to business owners involved in publications. Dry-packing made it easy to sell, deliver, and store. Care had to be taken to prevent the pigment from clumping and forming aggregates that made it unusable. The idea, like it is today, was to create ink that was dispersed properly into its oil so that the correct viscosity was met so it could run through a printing device and onto the paper.

Today, a high-speed disperser is used by ink manufacturers that effectively disperses and chops aggregate dry pigment into tiny, even, pieces that mix well with whatever liquid or oil is used with it.

Colored inks are a different matter.

They are created with flushed pigments, which are water-based. It doesn’t require the process of high-speed dispersing since it’s already a liquid. However, it comes with its own challenges of being mixed property with oil, vanish, and some kind of extender in order for it to provide the depth, luster, boldness, and vividness expected from colored ink.

The basics of blending ink haven’t changed, but the ingredients, machinery, and technology has made it faster, more efficient, and effective for developing and manufacturing industrial inks.