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ABI-2009 • Single Black and Color vs All Black Ink


We are asked often for an opinion about running one printer to print both color and black films so here are all the factors for you to consider to make the best decision for your needs.


To begin you must understand that there are two types of ink on the market: dye which is water based and pigment with is solvent based. Especially when it comes to "color" accuracy you should not mix dye with pigment. That is not to say that if you load dye ink and flush out pigment that there will be an issue, it's more about how the inks work together or rather "don't" work together when printed.

Very few Epson printers today are "dye" ink printers, the Epson 1400 and Epson 1430 are such printers. Most other Epson printers use K3 Ultra Chrome or HDR inks which are pigment style.

We at Freehand are dedicated to the screen print market and make AccuRIP to handle that very specific process so Black Ink is all we need to make films. We see great value for a screen printer to dedicate a printer to the important task of making films for screen making. Setting up and handling equipment properly will make for a better business day each day. It is much more efficient to operate an inkjet with All Black Inks ensuring that all nozzles operate each and every print keeping the machine healthy and reducing the chance of clogs. It also makes economic sense. All the ink you purchase will be used to produce films that make you money in your business. You can't say that if you run your printer with a single black ink and the remaining tanks filled with color.

Lets get into the details starting with the fact that Epson printers demand a full load of ink on board before it will operate. It does not care what ink is in it, it just wants ink.

Lets say you purchase a dye or pigment based printer and want to use it for making both film and color prints using the stock ink; this is a good setup because the inks are good for making film and the black ink will match and perform properly with the remaining color inks. As long as you use a proper pigment or dye ready film you will make good screen print films. In this case you can easily operate one printer for both color and black film printing.

Most screen printers use dye ink. Dye ink is more available in the market so they switch a pigment printer like the 4880, 7880 over to dye inks. Here is where you must make a decision.

You can either switch a single black tank over to dye leaving pigment in the rest of the printer or switch all the inks over to the All BLACK dye ink system.

If you switch just a single black cartridge over to black dye on a pigment printer you might as well switch the entire printer over the ALL BLACK. The printer will make great films using just the single black dye ink, but if you really need the best color print you can get then mixing the black dye into a color print with pigment inks is going to be less than great. They are completely different ink systems (dye is water and pigment is solvent based) and will not mix properly.

Another thing to consider if running only one black dye cartridge in a pigment based printer is that you will need to replace expensive color inks as they run out due to regular cleaning and maintenance just so the printer will operate and remain free of clogs. That is very expensive and time consuming for you. Switching to ALL BLACK INK will reduce or remove the need for maintenance and you will not need to flush away valuable ink.

In the end, it makes more sense and costs less to dedicate an inkjet printer to a purpose, either film making or color output. If you will be printing volume of each then it can work well as long as you match the ink system to both needs, but also consider then that your volume warrants two printers dedicated to a specific important task. We like dedicated solutions.

Think your needs through thoroughly and make a wise business decision, one that gives you the greatest possibility of repeated success.


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