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Everything you need to know about Bulk Refill Ink

What is it used for?
Ink Express are one of the UK’s leading suppliers of raw, bulk ink supplies. We supply compatible, alternative inks for the majority of printer manufacturers including Brother, Canon, Epson, Hewlett Packard and Kodak.

Our bulk ink refills are typically supplied for desktop printers using water based inks. In most cases our inks are used to refill continuous ink supply systems (CISS), refillable ink cartridges (RIC) or by consumers who refill their own ink cartridges at home.

What is a continuous ink system? [Click here]
What are refillable ink cartridges? [Click here]

Our inks are used by home users, small to medium businesses, professional photographers and publishing houses. We cater for all needs large or small.

Our bulk ink range is typically supplied in 100ml measurements from 100ml-1000ml capacity depending on the consumer’s usage. All our inks are supplies in clear plastic bottles with secure screw cap lids. Each ink bottle is labelled to show the capacity, product code and colour so the consumer is aware of which printer the ink is intended for use with.

What inks do we supply?
All our inks are water based and are intended for desktop applications such as A4 or A3 printers. All our inks are brand and model specific, our ink is not generic, we do not stock just one type of ink for Hewlett Packard printers or one type of ink for Epson printers. Each ink is developed and manufactured for a particular printer model and is specific to a printer model or printer range.

By offering specific inks rather than generic ink we are able to offer inks which give OEM type print quality whilst still offering the consumer a saving of up to 90% when compared to buying new OEM ink cartridges.

The type of ink we will provide for your printer will depend entirely on the printer model itself. We will always provide the correct type of ink for your printer. So if the OEM has specified that the ink is a pigment base ink we will provide a pigment ink that has been made to match. The same applies if the OEM has specified a dye base ink.

Are all inks the same?
To put it simply, no. Each printer manufacturer will specifically develop the ink for their printer and ink cartridge. A generic or universal ink has been made to work in a range of printers or ink cartridges but it not specifically matched to the OEM ink specification. Ink Express only provides specific inks that are tailor made to suit a particular printer or ink cartridge.

What is pigment base ink?
Pigment base ink is also known as archival ink; it is UV and water resistant and offers fade resistant prints. Pigment base ink is often used as a black ink by a number of manufacturers as it offers sharp, smudge resistant black text, similar to a laser printer.

Pigment ink is made of pigment powder which provides the colour, this powder is then mixed with a resin, the resin is what makes the ink water resistant and also provides the UV resistance to the ink.

Due to its fade resisting or archival qualities pigment inks tend to be used in professional photographic printers where an archival / fade resistant print out is required.

What is dye base ink?
Dye base ink is the most commonly used ink in desktop printing applications. Dye base ink is water soluble and so it is not water resistant. Typically it has a low resistance to UV, but in recent years UV stabilisers have been introduced to help combat this.

Dye base ink is typically far cheaper to buy than pigment base inks; in our own range for example a bottle of dye base ink is about half the price of an equivalent bottle of pigment base ink.

Due to its opaque properties a printer which uses dye base ink can offer a much wider colour gamut (range of colours) than a printer that uses pigment inks. Dye ink when printed on to bright white paper will allow the light to pass through it giving a stained glass window effect which helps to produce bright vivid colours.

What inks do I need?
The type of ink you require can depend on what you plan to produce with your printer and also what type of ink the printer requires. Typically we will always supply the same type of ink as the printer manufacturer has specified.

I want to produce T-Shirt transfers, what ink and printer do I need?
This is a common question we get asked, T-Shirt printing has become a very popular business venue or hobby for many of our customers and we often get asked what printer and ink combination is best.

A standard inkjet printer is used to printed a ‘mirrored’ image on to special T-Shirt transfer paper, the print is then transferred on to the T-Shirt or clothing by using an iron or heat press. The special transfer paper has a paper backing which will peel away leaving a clear film (carrier film) layer which contains the ink and printed image.

For standard T-Shirt printing where the customer is using T-Shirt transfer paper we normally suggest pigment ink, this is due to the UV and water resistance of the ink, an image printed using pigment base ink will be far more durable and long lasting when transferred on to a T-Shirt, it will not fade in sunlight and will not wash off easily.

Choosing the right printer is very important when making T-Shirt transfers. Epson printers seem to be the most popular choice, a wide range of Epson printers use pigment ink as standard and so they perform well and do not suffer with blockages due to the wrong type of ink being used.

An alternative method to using T-Shirt transfer media is a method known as dye sublimation or sublimation printing.

What is dye sublimation?
Dye sublimation or sublimation is a process where a special ink will transfer a printed image from paper on to a range of materials such as polycotton, metal and even ceramic. The process is similar to T-Shirt transfers but instead of the paper transferring the image on a clear film (carrier film) the actual ink evaporates off the paper and transfers on to the item. This process of evaporation and transfer is known as ‘sublimating’