Latex inks systems use water as the main ingredient but the carrier for the pigments are either latex or resin-based (pigments are dissolved by resins in water instead of solvents). Latex inkjet printers that use these types of inks also need heaters built into the printer, so the media becomes receptive to the ink and also to allow the ink to dry properly.
Unlike solvent inks, the latex ink has low-VOC emissions and low odor, avoiding the need of special ventilation.
Hewlett-Packard introduced this inkjet ink technology, for wide format graphics printing applications, in 2008 and after an extended period of beta-testing and an economic recession it went mainstream in 2010.
HP first launched to the market this latex technology, using their HP’s thermal printhead technology; but Mimaki has also developed its own latex inks and printers, using Ricoh drop on demand printheads.
- Latex inks come out of the printer fully dry and “ready-to-use” (compared to solvent inks which do not dry completely in 24 hours)
- Latex inks are eco-friendly. The water-based formulations of latex inks reduce the impact of printing on the environment.
- Offers color consistency. They produce durable printing for outdoor and indoor applications.
- Latex inks are odorless. Since the inks are water-based there is no need for extra ventilation to remove any harmful substances emanating from the printer.
- Latex printers require preprint and post print heaters to cure the media, resulting in higher energy consumption compared to other inkjet technologies.
- Some substrates may buckle under the higher temperatures.