Letterpress printing, a historic form of relief printing, involves transferring ink from a raised surface (such as a metal or polymer plate) onto paper. Oil-based ink is another common type of ink used in letterpress printing. Here are some key characteristics and considerations regarding oil-based ink in letterpress printing:
- Viscosity: Oil-based ink is generally thicker and more viscous than some other types of inks, allowing it to adhere well to the raised surfaces of the printing plate, but slightly less than rubber based ink.
- Drying Time: Oil-based ink typically dries more quickly than some other inks, which is advantageous for letterpress printing, as it provides adequate time for the ink to transfer from the plate to the paper.
- Color Options: Oil-based inks come in a wide range of colors, including standard, Pantone and custom-mixed colors, making them suitable for various design and printing requirements.
- Opacity: These inks offer good opacity, allowing for excellent coverage on different paper types.
- Consistency: Oil-based inks provide consistent and reliable results, which is crucial in letterpress printing for achieving sharp and clean images.
- Solvent-Based: All Letterpress inks contain some solvents, containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Proper ventilation and safety precautions are essential when working with these inks.
- Ink Adjustment: Printers can adjust the ink’s consistency by adding extenders, other inks, or additives to achieve the desired opacity and texture.
- Cleanup: Cleaning up after using oil-based ink is a fairly simple process using press wash preferably or white spirit, soap and water can be used too, if you want water near your press. Special solvents or cleaners are often required to clean printing equipment and tools.
- Substrates: Oil-based inks are versatile and can be used on various paper stocks and other substrates, making them suitable for different letterpress applications.
Oil-based ink is favored by many letterpress printers for its unique properties and versatility in creating tactile and visually appealing printed materials. However, handling and disposing of oil-based inks must be done safely and responsibly, especially due to the solvent-based nature of these inks.