That’s a good question because there are different types of inks. The answer isn’t what kind of ink is best for vehicle wraps; it’s what kind of inks – plural. There are three or four inks used on vehicle wraps. The choice of ink can depend on the printer, the substrate, as well as the ink recommended to follow warranty guidelines. So, what kind of ink is best on vehicle wraps?
Latex ink is the most recent type of ink used on vehicle wraps. Its versatility has made it a popular choice. Some inks will distort when stretched but not latex. It easily stretches to conform to the contours of a vehicle without distortion.
Being water-based, it’s also more environmentally friendly than some other inks. Latex is popular for indoor and outdoor applications, including vehicle wraps, banners, and fleet graphics.
Other inks need to outgas for 24 to 48 hours after printing but not latex. Outgassing is releasing a substance as a vapor. For example, when you use glue, you smell the gas as it’s released. Because latex ink requires heat to cure the print, latex printers use more power than inkjet printers.
Solvent inks are available in a broader range of colors than many inks. The solvent transfers the color pigment to the vinyl. Once the pigment is laid down, the solvent begins to evaporate or “flash off” the vinyl.
Solvent inks require 24 hours or longer to outgas. Laminate or overlaminate should not be applied for at least 24 hours. In most cases, it’s important not to skip lamination. “Laminate on vehicle wraps provides protection against abrasion from road grime and rocks, as well as moisture. The UV protection laminate provides will help protect the printed graphics against fading and deterioration.” — Sign & Digital Design Magazine.
Solvent inks are used on vehicle wraps, walls, and more. They work well on many types of surfaces.
Eco-solvent is often categorized as solvent. However, solvent and eco-solvent are primarily the same with one exception. Eco-solvent inks are more environmentally friendly. These inks use less volatile organic compounds (VOC) than standard solvent inks. “Volatile organic compounds are compounds that have a high vapor pressure and low water solubility. Many VOCs are human-made chemicals used and produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants.” EPA — What are volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?
Like solvents, eco-solvents can be used for many applications indoors and out, including fleet graphics and signage.
UV inks cure using ultraviolet light. Ink is laid on the print head one pass at a time. Each layer cures instantly as it rolls past the light. It can be printed in sections several yards long and prints more quickly than most other inks and printers. Which makes it an excellent choice for fleet graphics, especially large vehicles such as full wraps on 53-foot trailers.
In the past, UV wasn’t the most flexible of ink. It was best suited to flat surfaces. However, new, more flexible UV inks have come to market in the last couple of years.
What Ink is Best for You?
Choosing the best ink (and printer) for the job will vary. The best way to know what inks will work best for your application is to have a conversation with an experienced vehicle wrap provider. We happen to know one that’s been doing vehicle graphics for 35 years, let us know if we can answer any questions, Contact Us.