We hear a lot of debate on the subject of eco-solvent ink vs. latex ink and as the company that produces Eco-Sol® MAX, the most popular inks in the wide format durable graphics printer market, we feel the need to dispel some myths others send around the industry, so that buyers are aware of the real facts before deciding upon a wide format printer and ink system.
Even mythical characters appreciate the superior color and versatility of Eco-Sol MAX inks
Myth 1: The color quality of eco-solvent and latex are very similar.
There are distinct quality differences between eco-solvent and latex that don’t support the idea of the inks having “comparable” color output.
Eco solvent has a wider color gamut.
Eco-solvent has a wider color gamut than latex that is especially noticeable in bright red, orange, magenta, blue, cyan and green output. The other significant color difference between the two ink systems is in the “glossy” quality of eco-solvent. Eco-solvent ink directly interacts with the fibers of the substrate and takes on much of the attributes of the substrate itself. Thus, when printed on glossy substrates it has a vivid, gloss appearance. In contrast, latex inks lie on top of the substrate when printed and have a matt, dull quality, even on glossy materials. In addition, latex simply doesn’t compare to the rich blacks and reflective color of eco-solvent.
Eco–solvent for richer, smoother color with 7-droplet sizes.
With a latex system, the water-based ink is thinner and more ink must be jetted and dried to achieve the same color density as an eco-solvent ink system. In addition, Roland’s superior variable droplet technology prints eco-solvent ink in seven different droplet sizes, allowing for finer details, smoother gradations and a less “grainy” appearance when compared to the 12 picoliter fixed dot droplet size of latex.
Nessie particularly likes the unique and versatile features of the Eco-Sol MAX ink system that includes metallic silver, light black and high-density white ink options.
Myth 2: Eco-solvent takes days to dry and cure while latex is fast.
The time needed for curing (or outgassing as it’s often called) with an eco-solvent system has been exaggerated. Furthermore, the debate about curing should not merely be about time, but also include discussions about overall quality and versatility when comparing eco-solvent to latex.
Dispelling the myths about eco-solvent curing times.
A popular claim is that eco-solvent inks need days to cure before lamination. The truth is, it all depends on the material, saturation, application and other individual factors. Sometimes users will laminate immediately and sometimes they will wait. There are vehicle wrap users that use Eco-Sol MAX ink systems day in and day out, without their business slowing down. With good time-management and planning, curing time is not the issue that latex manufacturers might have you believe.
Eco-solvent cures correctly.
While best practices suggest leaving eco-solvent prints to cure, they always cure properly – even with high ink loads. In comparison, latex printers are known to have problems curing ink onto the edges, thereby reducing the usable area of a substrate. With eco-solvent printing, there are no wasted prints with uncured areas and no wasted printing costs associated with leaving unprinted margins near the edge to solve drying issues.
Forest-dweller, Bigfoot, prefers the reduced power and environmentally friendly eco-solvent system.
Myth 3: Eco-solvent ink is bad for the environment.
The claim that latex is an eco-friendly option, while eco-solvent is the choice for the less environmentally conscious is simply not true. In reality, Roland Eco-Sol Max inks are Greenguard Gold-Certified for low VOC’s and indoor safety, the same as latex inks.
Less ink, less power, less environmental issues.
Because eco-solvent inks are thicker, with more pigment, they need less ink to print a specific color. They also require significantly less heat to cure and less time to print than a latex system. Latex machines require a 220v outlet to run them and users will need special electrical installation. In our opinion, that seems like a lot of power requirements and doesn’t support the latex claim to be more environmentally friendly! In addition, using all that latex ink is not too good for your wallet either – you’ll pay considerably more in running costs each year. See the comparison here.
- This post has addressed some issues surrounding these competing technologies but if you want to get the facts and figures about Roland’s lower cost of investment, lower running costs, better build quality and superior customer service, check out our Roland vs. Latex page and discover why you should never settle for latex.