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solvent or eco solvent

One question that most of my customers grapple with, is whether to go for a solvent or eco solvent print. To be able to make this choice, you first need to understand the difference between the two.

Eco solvent printing

Eco solvent inks have the colors suspended in a mild bio-degradable solvent. These inks have little or no odor. The machines using these inks typically print at very high resolutions. The ink heads have nozzles which can spray ink drops of size 10 picoliters or less. Obviously, with a smaller drop size one can achieve higher quality prints with very fine resolutions. Eco solvent machines typically need specially coated media for printing upon.

solvent or eco solvent

solvent or eco solvent inks

The specialized ink chemistry and coated media does contribute to higher print costs. But this technology delivers beautiful photo realistic images and stunning print quality. Eco solvent prints would typically be used for indoor applications

Solvent printing

Solvent inks are much more aggressive and typically non bio degradable. These inks have a pungent odor and prolonged exposure to them can be harmful to humans. The stronger inks and more complex chemistry allows us to print on uncoated media or media with less coating. Also these inks are generally more resistant to water and sunlight. Solvent flex printing machines have a comparatively large drop size. The print heads on solvent machines spray ink drops of size 40 – 60 picoliters. While the larger drop size does result in slightly grainy image reproduction, it does not really matter. Because solvent prints are typically used for outdoor applications. If you are going to view a hoarding which is 40 feet distant from your car, waiting at the traffic signal, you won’t even notice the low resolution

Here are a few pointers to help you make your choice between solvent or eco solvent prints

Think of the difference in print quality of the daily news paper and the glossy monthly magazine. The former has a shelf life of a day and needs to deliver content at the lowest possible price. The latter need to entice you to buy high value goods and will remain on you table for some time. Similarly a solvent or eco solvent print needs to do the work it is meant for. Use the following table as a ready reckoner…

Flex solvent printing is… Inkjet eco-solvent printing is…
Generally cheaper Generally costlier
Used for outdoor applications like hoardings, banners, shop boards Used for indoor applications for store and point of sale branding, posters, interior design, etc.
Exudes a smell of solvent No smell
Of a lower resolution. Hoardings are viewed from a distance Very high resolution meant for close distance viewing
Used for large images and fonts To be used where the document contains hi-res photos, diagrams with a lot of detailing and small fonts
Is rain water and sunlight resistant Lamination is recommended if the print is to be displayed outdoors
Needs to be stretched on a wood or metal frame, or strung up with eyelets Can be pasted directly on walls, glass, laminates or a 3 / 5 mm sun board
Used for short lived promotional campaigns Used for more permanent applications