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

Swinburne University and IIM announce graphene smart composites project

Sep 11, 2017

Imagine Intelligent Materials and Swinburne University have announced a collaborative six-month project aiming to develop graphene-reinforced smart composites. The composite will be able to report on the condition of large structures, and will have major commercial potential in the transport sector, including automotive and aerospace.

The project is supported by a $20,000 Seed grant from the university under a program, targeting “interdisciplinary projects that are aligned with the Swinburne research institutes’ external partnership and collaboration objectives”. It will combine expertise from experts in sensors, electronics engineering and aerospace manufacturing at the university.

NSF grant to fund development of inkjet-printed graphene-based water quality sensors

Sep 04, 2017

The National Science Foundation recently awarded University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee scientists $1.5 million to perfect a method of mass-producing graphene-based small water sensors using inkjet printing. The goal is to determine whether the process can be customized in order to scale up production and in a more economic way than traditional manufacturing methods.

Inkjet-printed graphene-based water quality sensors image

The graphene-based sensors, developed at UWM, reportedly outperform current technologies in accuracy, sensitivity and sensing speed. Their performance and size make them useful for continuously monitoring drinking water for miniscule traces of contaminants like lead.

Graphene for the Display and Lighting Industries

Manchester U team prints flexible GO-based supercapacitors on fabrics

Aug 14, 2017

Researchers from The University of Manchester recently demonstrated flexible graphene-based supercapacitors printed directly on to textiles using a simple screen-printing technique.

Manchester U prints GO-supercapacitors on fabrics image

The solid-state flexible supercapacitor device has been demonstrated by using conductive graphene-oxide ink to print onto cotton fabric. The printed electrodes reportedly exhibited excellent mechanical stability due to the strong interaction between the ink and textile substrate.

Haydale launches Taiwan operations

Aug 11, 2017

Haydale logoHaydale recently announced the launch of its Taiwan operations, Haydale Technologies Taiwan ('HTW'), which will operate as a dedicated producer and sales outlet of graphene-based conductive inks and pastes, including other functional and specialty inks and pastes.

Located in Southern Taiwan, HTW has largely completed the setup of its own dedicated ink production facility to meet its anticipated demand. Haydale has been working in Taiwan for more than 18 months, having determined in late 2015 that the region's focus on functional inks and pastes could provide an important route to market for Haydale's tailored graphene-based materials. The work involved market assessments, in-country technical capability, ability to gain regulatory approvals and gaining a deep understanding of the targeted print customers' needs.

Applied Graphene Materials enters agreement to develop and commercialize a new graphene ink technology

May 24, 2017

Applied Graphene Materials logoApplied Graphene Materials has outlined details of a new graphene-enhanced ink technology and signed a development deal with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Center. A patent for this new development, called Structural Ink, has been registered and once fully commercialized, the product will be targeted at the advanced composites industry.

The technology will aim to enable users to increase mechanical toughness, through the addition of graphene. This is ultimately designed to improve performance, enable further weight reduction and reduce total manufacturing costs.

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