What is ink?

Ink is a mixture of ingredients formulated to create a substance containing pigments or dyes that is used to color a surface. Inks usually come in liquid or paste form, and can be divided into four general classes of aqueous, liquid, paste and powder.

Inks photo

Most inks contain four basic components: colorants (that grant color and opacity), binders (mostly resins that serve to hold together other components), additives (like wax or chalk, used to grant specific traits) and carrier substances (like oils, which allow the ink to flow, spread and transfer). The ink industry is valued at over $10 billion as ink is somewhat ubiquitous and found in writing paraphernalia and print (including newspapers and books).

What are the common types of ink?

Inks are roughly divided into printing inks and writing inks. Writing inks, like the ones found in pens, started out using water-based dye systems and evolved into paste oil-based dyes that improve ink flow, and are generally more non smearing and quicker to dry than water-based systems.

Printing inks are categorized in two groups: inks for conventional printing (using a mechanical plate that transfers an image to the printed object) and inks for non-impact printing like ink-jet and electrophotographic technologies.

Conductive inks

Conductive inks contain components that provide the function of conductivity. Such components may be comprised of silver, carbon, graphite, or other precious metal coated base material. Common conductive inks can be classified into three categories: noble metals, conductive polymers, and carbon nanomaterials. Conductive inks can be used in various ways, including screen printing, flexographic or rotogravure, spray, dip, and more. A selection of conductive inks are offered on the market, to meet the demands of many applications: electronics, sensors, antennae, touch screens, printed heaters and more.



What is graphene?

Graphene is the thinnest and strongest material known to man. It is also an excellent electrical and heat conductor that has unique optical properties. Graphene is a 2D material made of carbon atoms, arranged in a honeycomb lattice. Its myriad qualities make graphene worthy of the title “wonder material”, with endless potential for all sorts of applications from membranes to electronics.

3D Graphene render

Graphene inks

Carbon nanomaterials offer many possibilities for printed and flexible electronics. The electrical properties of carbon nanotubes and graphene are particularly promising, and have been exploited in a number of applications from thin-film transistors (TFTs) and electrochemical sensors to supercapacitors and photovoltaics. Due to its high charge carrier mobility, superlative thermal and chemical stability and intrinsic flexibility, graphene has been demonstrated for a number of applications in printed electronics including chemical and thermal sensors, supercapacitors and more.

Graphene inks expand the possibilities for applications such as printed electronics, packaging and electronics, but often need to be specially formulated or adjusted for specific uses, like unique substrates or processing/printing methods (rotogravure, flexo, or screen printing processes etc.) as demands vary for the different uses. Screen printing, for example, usually requires optimal coverage capability while flexographic printing warrants rapid drying.

The graphene inks market

The graphene market can be a confusing one. While there are some companies that sell graphene inks, like Haydale and Vorbeck Materials, many other companies are involved in different aspects of the market. For example, Angstron Materials do not sell graphene inks but offer graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) that can be dispersed in solvent to create graphene ink of sorts. Other companies are in various stages of developing graphene inks and accessory products. Graphene 3D printing can be done by using a liquid similar to ink, yet it is different than the inks that are used for other applications.

If you’re interested in graphene inks and wish to find the one suitable for your needs, contact Graphene-info - the graphene experts. We use our unique market familiarity and understanding to assist you in finding exactly what you are looking for.

Further reading

Latest Graphene Ink news

Researchers develop graphene-based flexible, water-repellent circuits for washable electronics

Researchers at Iowa State University, along with collaborators at Rice University, Ames Laboratory and Lehigh University, have designed a new graphene printing technology that can produce electronic circuits that are low-cost, flexible, highly conductive and water repellent. The scientists explain that this technology could enable self-cleaning wearable/washable electronics that are resistant to stains, or ice and biofilm formation.

Graphene-based flexible, water-repellent circuits for washable electronics image

“We’re taking low-cost, inkjet-printed graphene and tuning it with a laser to make functional materials,” said authors of the paper. The work describes how the team used inkjet printing technology to create electric circuits on flexible materials. In this case, the ink is flakes of graphene. The printed flakes, however, aren’t highly conductive and have to be processed to remove non-conductive binders and weld the flakes together, boosting conductivity and making them useful for electronics or sensors. Such post-print processes typically involve heat or chemicals, but the research group developed a rapid-pulse laser process that treats the graphene without damaging the printing surface – even if it’s paper.

Haydale and Talga sign a commercial supply and development agreement

Haydale logoTalga Resources logo 2017UK-based advanced materials group Haydale Graphene Industries has entered into a commercial supply and development agreement with Australian-listed Talga Resources. The agreement will see the two companies work together on the production, sales and marketing of jointly developed graphene-based transparent conductive ink products for industrial applications in Asia.

The two companies have been working together for a few years, and will now look to enhance the properties of Haydale’s graphene-based, transparent conductive ink by using Talga’s highly conductive graphitic materials. Initial tests showed that Talga’s material can enhance electrical conductivity of Haydale's transparent inks by 15% or more above that of synthetic graphite.

Graphene Investment Guide

Versarien to collaborate with Asia-based apparel company on graphene-enhanced textiles

Versarien LogoVersarien recently announced that it has reached an agreement with an Asia-headquartered "global textiles and apparel manufacturer", which will have both companies collaborating to incorporate graphene into fabrics. The partner remains unnamed , but it was said that it designs, develops, and manufactures a range of different garments for well-known apparel brands globally.

Using graphene ink technology (developed by the Versarien's subsidiary Cambridge Graphene), the collaboration will involve the incorporation of graphene into textiles via yarns and fabric finishes, with the aim of enhancing the fabric properties so that they meet the requirements of some key application areas that the partner has identified.

A new printing method produces flexible graphene micro-supercapacitors with a planar architecture

A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota and Northwestern University, USA, have developed a printing method to produce flexible graphene micro-supercapacitors with a planar architecture suitable for integration in portable electronic devices.

Graphene MSCs with planar architecture process image

The new process, referred to as ‘self-aligned capillarity-assisted lithography for electronics’ (SCALE), begins with the creation of a polymer template, generated by stamping a UV-curable polymer with a PDMS mold. High-resolution inkjet printing is then used to deposit a graphene ink into the template, which is annealed using a xenon lamp to form the electrodes. In the final step, a polymer gel electrolyte is printed onto the template over the electrodes to complete the configuration.

Haydale develops graphene-based anti-counterfeiting technology

Haydale logoHaydale, the global advanced materials group, has filed a patent application in the UK for a its PATit anti-counterfeiting technology, which uses proprietary software codes and a specialty graphene-based, transparent conductive ink. The graphene-based ink can be printed onto products and then ‘read’ by a device to prove their authenticity

The advanced materials group stated that it wants to initially target the anti-counterfeiting market as it is expected to double over the next four years to be worth more than US$200 billion by 2021. Haydale added that the filing of the application is an important in allowing it to begin discussions on potential commercial applications of the technology.

Versarien - Think you know graphene? Think again!Versarien - Think you know graphene? Think again!