Ink Innovation: Unveiling the Spectrum of Possibilities in Large Format Printing

A drop of ink may make a million think – Lord Byron

In the ever-evolving landscape of large-format printing, the vast amount of options of ink may leave you baffled. Ink plays a pivotal role in shaping the outcome of any visual creation. Whether you’re designing breathtaking outdoor displays, eye-catching vehicle wraps, or captivating indoor graphics – understanding the unique characteristics of various ink types is crucial. Each type of ink is better suited to a specific type of printing and aside from this fact, there are a few other aspects to take into consideration before making your next ink purchase.


Posters, murals, billboards, hoardings, and banners are great marketing tools that make a lasting impression and reach lots of potential customers. According to Micro Printing to leverage this impactful branding tool properly, your printer needs to use the right type of ink. Understanding what inks are best suited to specific projects is the first step in ensuring high-quality images.

The Durable Workhorse

Solvent inks are renowned for their durability and outdoor longevity, making them an ideal choice for industries requiring resilient prints, like outdoor signage, billboards, and vehicle wraps. KAO Print states that solvent inks offer high durability in extreme environmental conditions and resistance to scratches and high temperatures. These inks are chemically formulated to adhere well to a variety of surfaces, ensuring your creations withstand harsh weather conditions. However, it’s important to consider the environmental impact and ventilation requirements, as solvent inks contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Balancing Quality and Sustainability

Eco-solvent inks offer a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional solvent inks. They maintain durability while minimising VOC emissions, making them suitable for indoor applications like banners and graphics that require a compromise between longevity and environmental considerations. The company Make Me Sustainable would recommend the use of these inks stating that, “Unlike traditional solvent-based printing, which can release harmful VOCs into the air, eco-solvent inks are much safer and healthier for both workers and the environment.” These inks are also favoured by businesses aiming to reduce their carbon footprint without compromising print quality.

Versatility Redefined

 For industries seeking versatility and quality, latex inks provide a compelling solution. With their water-based formulation, latex inks are suitable for a wide range of applications, including indoor graphics, wall coverings, and even textiles. Hatteras describes one of the main benefits of latex inks that it is both eco-friendly and damage-resistant, “making it the perfect choice for both indoor and outdoor product applications.” They strike a balance between eco-friendliness, durability, and image quality, offering vivid colours and excellent longevity on various substrates.

Brilliance Beyond Boundaries

UV inks have revolutionised the large-format printing industry by offering instant curing through UV exposure. Alvin Pather explains, “Long gone are the days of traditional ink-based methods, as UV printing is now used to produce bright, vivid prints that can be easily customised to fit any project with high-resolution detail.” This enables printing on unconventional substrates like glass, wood, and metal. UV inks produce vibrant and sharp prints with exceptional resistance to fading, making them suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications. However, the initial investment and potential concerns about ink flexibility on certain materials should be considered.

Infusing Life into Textiles

Dye sublimation inks specialise in printing vibrant, high-resolution designs onto textiles. Industries such as fashion, interior decor, and sportswear benefit from their ability to transfer intricate designs onto fabrics with remarkable colour accuracy and sharpness. Dye sublimation inks penetrate the fabric, resulting in a long-lasting print that doesn’t compromise the fabric’s texture. Startex describes the effects of dye sublimation printing as permanent and less prone to fading – as the ink is embedded into the substrate. This type of printing is ideal for clothing manufacturers and even some large-format display branding materials.

Balancing Chemistry, Input Costs, and Image Quality

A few more aspects to consider when choosing the best-suited ink for your next project include your input costs, image quality and balancing the chemistry behind your inks.

When selecting an ink type, understanding the chemistry behind each formulation is essential. While solvent and eco-solvent inks offer durability, latex inks cater to versatility, and UV inks provide instant curing capabilities.

The input costs of various inks for large-format printing can vary significantly based on the type and quality of ink being used. Traditional solvent-based inks are generally more affordable upfront, on the other hand, eco-solvent and UV-curable inks are considered more environmentally friendly options, with slightly higher initial costs but potential long-term savings due to improved durability and reduced wastage. According to Jingke Printing Equipment, while the initial cost of UV inks can be 2 or 3 times the cost of conventional inks, the printer actually saves more with UV inks as ink mileage can be easily 2 or 3 times greater than conventional inks. Water-based inks tend to be cost-effective and environmentally friendly, although they may require specialised printing equipment.


The image quality produced by different inks for large-format printing varies based on the specific ink type and the technology it employs. FESPA states that the choice of ink depends on the applications and materials that you want to print on, but it’s also sensible to consider the environmental implications of the ink. High-quality results are often achieved using pigment-based inks, known for their exceptional colour accuracy, sharpness, and longevity. UV-curable inks provide excellent image durability and can be applied to a wide range of substrates, but their performance may vary depending on the printer and curing process.


Additionally, eco-solvent inks strike a balance between image quality and environmental considerations, offering good colour saturation and longevity. The choice of ink for large-format printing ultimately hinges on the desired image quality, the intended use of the printed materials, and compatibility with the chosen printing technology.


Investing in the Future

The longevity of prints varies depending on the ink type, substrate, and environmental conditions. According to Ink World Magazine, the performance of inks may vary as environmental conditions change. Solvent and UV inks excel in outdoor durability, while latex and dye sublimation inks are preferred for their resistance to fading and vibrant indoor quality. Choosing the right ink ensures your designs withstand the test of time and continue to captivate your audience.

In the dynamic world of large-format printing, the choice of ink is a pivotal decision that influences your artwork’s quality, longevity, and environmental impact. Whether you’re in outdoor advertising, interior design, or textile printing, understanding the distinct attributes of solvent, eco-solvent, latex, UV, and dye sublimation inks empowers you to create visuals that stand out while aligning with your industry’s demands and values. So, explore the spectrum of ink possibilities and elevate your large format printing game to new height.


Let your Business be Seen

Looking for the promise of urgent and seamless customer service? Contact Intamarket Graphics to get the perfect solution for your business. Intamarket Graphics is a complete solution supplier to the graphics, sign and print industries, and South Africa’s leading supplier of large-format printing equipment and digital print media.


Our success in blending leading international brands with excellent service, ensures clients receive the experience they deserve. Intamarket Graphics’ total solutions supplier status ensures clients the best possible partnership for all their business requirements.