Interesting Inks

Michael Dare over at the Absolutely Everything Else blog recently posted an article entitled “The 8 Most Unusual and Cutting Edge Inks.” What started as a “frivolous” look at inks quickly became a much deeper analysis into how ink technology advances are transforming the printing industry’s environmental impact.

Our four favorites were:

1. Edible Ink

If you’ve ever seen pastry or cake printing, then you’ve seen edible ink in action. It’s more of a confectioner’s tool, but it’s possible to get it for commercial and home printing. According to Dare, it’s available through Kopykake, a California company. (Our question is how do you fit the cake into a desktop printer?)

2. DNA Ink

I pride myself on staying at the forefront of the printing industry, but even this one blew me away. A Japanese company, Ko-Sin Printing, has created a type of ink that actually contains the author’s DNA. It’s essentially standard ink mixed with a DNA sample.

3. Disappearing Ink

Though disappearing ink has been sold out of the backs of comic books for decades, the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) is redefining the concept using photosensitive paper and UV light (no actual ink involved). The idea is that the paper can be used again and again.

4. Eco Ink

Unlike our traditional, petroleum-based inks, eco ink is both biodegradable and renewable. The product is made from ethyl lactate also known as corn.

The four other inks not mentioned here include nanoink, an ink used to print rolls of semi-conductors; silver nanoparticle ink, which is designed to carry signals between circuit elements.; gold ink, another ink used in circuitry and flexible electronics; and, bio ink, a method that essentially prints proteins onto stem cells. All four are interesting, but just a little out of the realm of a traditional print shop.

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