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Washable or Permanent
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Washable or Permanent


Credit: SharkD
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SubtractiveColor.svg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The printer quietly comes to life as the letter comes out, page by page. The document is clear and the images are sharp. However, the letters eventually begin to be lighter, more faded. This indicates that the printer cartridge is out of ink and needs to be replaced.

News You Can Use

  • Ink is one of those things we all take for granted, at least until it runs out. Whether the ink is in a ballpoint pen or a printer cartridge, we all need something with which to prepare our documents. The ink composition and properties will vary, depending on the application.
  • A major component of all inks is the colorant – the material that gives color to the ink. Pigments are insoluble colorants, forming a suspension, while dyestuffs are soluble materials. Binders are chemicals that help attach the colorant to the paper or other material. Solvents such as water, xylene, toluene, alcohols, and other low-molecular weight organic solvents dissolve the binder and influence the viscosity of the ink. Additives are often present in small amounts to adjust the quality of the final product.
  • Credit: innovate360
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/innovate360/5656709476/sizes/o/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Because ink cartridges contain so many chemicals, they should be recycled to prevent chemical leaks and contamination [Figure2]


  • Permanent inks contain materials that will chemically bond to the cellulose of the paper. Chemicals such as iron sulfate, tannin acid, and gallic acid are commonly found in these products.
  • Watch a video at the link below to see a process for making ink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fypi6dAJB8E

Show What You Know

Use the links below to learn more about inks. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is used as the colorant in most red inks?
  2. How can a blue color be obtained?
  3. How do laser printers work?
  4. How do inkjet printers work?
  5. What are some hazards associated with ink used in tattoos?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: SharkD; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SubtractiveColor.svg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: innovate360; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/innovate360/5656709476/sizes/o/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0


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