What is the difference between solvent ink and aqueous ink?

aqueous inks dyes solvent inks uv inks

The two most common types of inks used with wide-format printers are aqueous and solvent.  

Aqueous inks are water-based and come in two varieties, dye and pigment, often referred  to as Dye and UV inks.

Solvent inks are generally pigment inks.  They contain pigments rather than dyes but unlike aqueous inks, where the carrier is water, solvent inks contain oil or alcohol instead which edge their way into the media and produce a more permanent image.  Solvent inks work well with materials such as vinyl whilst aqueous inks work best on paper.

Wide format pigmented fine art inkjet printers are typically aqueous printers. 

Media designed for outdoor use can be used with these printers but only with coating to extend longevity.  Solvent printers are generally associated with commercial printers and sign shops.  Outdoor media from a solvent printer is generally hardier but lacks the quality of output possible with the current generation of aqueous pigmented printers.

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