Pigment inks vs dye inks for transferring patterns onto metal with inkjet print

AllenClapp

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The question of which inks work and which do not comes up often. To print on transparencies for transfer to metal, pigment inks are required; sublimation dye inks do not work. Many of the color inkjets use pigment black and dye colors, but all do not. Some use all dye and a very few use all pigment. I found the following good discussion of EPSON inks. https://neofiliac.com/article/1141/epson-ecotank-inks
In particular, I was looking at the newer "EcoTank" printers that use large internal tanks refilled by bottles of ink, instead of the measly ink cartridges. They are touted as being less expensive than laser printing. At the end of this article is a list of the Epson printers that use the different combinations of ink types. My old Epson XP-400 that used Durabrite inks worked well. Similar printers are still available, but they use the more expensive cartridges.
I took heart in hand today an got a monochrome only Epson EcoTank type printer that uses the EcoTank T532 pigment ink (the EU nomenclature is EcoTank 110 ink). It works like a charm. My plan is to use the inkjet instead of my laser every week for things that only need black print, so that I can keep the nozzles clear. My big problem in the past has been that the cost of the ink cartridges was so high that I didn't use the old printer enough to keep the heads clean.
The new lower-cost tank printers may be a game changer. PLEASE NOTE: I am not pushing any particular brand of printer. HP and others also have inks that work very well. However, this is such a good discussion and reference article that I couldn't resist passing it along for those who might be interested.
 

AllenClapp

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I am not sure that the larger tank changes the tendency to clog when not used enough. What it does is greatly reduce the cost of ink to a point where it is claimed to be less expensive to use than a laser printer. That means that I will use it several times a week instead of going weeks without using it. THAT extra use should keep the head unclogged. If so, it will very much be a win-win for me, because I will always have it ready to use to print an engraving pattern and get a better transfer than using a laser print. So far, I am happy with it. If I start having issues with clogging, I will report back.
 

DKanger

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The ink doesn't clog, it dries. I have found in the past that wiping the print head clean with an alcohol wipe and then cycling the printer thru a print head cycle will get them working again.
 

AllenClapp

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True, dries is a better term. Some of the industry info indicates that it is easy to clean up and get going again if it hasn't dried more than a month. After that, it tends to harden to a point that more rigorous cleaning is needed. It really isn't an issue if the printer is used frequently, which is why I became interested in a tank model that supposedly is less expensive than laser to run and, therefore, I would run it instead of a laser frequently. Time will tell. I first have to remind myself when printing black-only documents to switch printers. So far, so good.
 

percman48

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Thank you for sharing the information about the eco-tank. I have one of those too but have not been successful using the factory supplied ink. What I have determined that may be a help tp all is that whenever I have completed creating an ink transfer, I remove my ink cartridge and cover the ink dispenser over with Scotch tape. It could be weeks before I use it next. Yes, I must remove the tape but by doing this, it prevents air reacting with the ink to dry and clog. It also pulls the ink away from the printing head allowing for fresh ink to fill the space. Otherwise, every time I printed, I needed to install a fresh ink cartridge.
 

AllenClapp

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Ah, the glories of using inkjets!
I assume you meant you had not been successful in keeping the head from drying out, not with making the transfer. Your suggestion is time consuming but very useful if the printer won't be used for a while.
If you meant that you are having trouble making the transfer, I have two comments. First, as indicated earlier, some of the tank printers use dye inks instead of pigment inks--especially ones going for high-end photo printing. Dye inks don't work. If you are having trouble transferring and don't know if the ink is a pigment ink, look up the ink online to see if it is pigment or dye type.
Second, if you are having trouble transferring with a pigment ink, it may be either a transfer medium issue or transparency issue. I use Tom White's Transfer Magic (I like the white version, rather than the clear; it seems to be duller and shows up extra pencil marks better) and Pictorico transparencies. That combination works very well. Several engravers have found other combinations of less expensive medium/transparencies that work well.
The ink in my new monochrome Epson EcoTank ET-M3170 is #532. The Transfer Magic works better than any homebrew that I have tried so far using damar varnish (both with the old Durabrite ink and the new 532 ink), but I am still experimenting with that; lots of folks have found a damar varnish brew that works well.
 

AllenClapp

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Brother printers do NOT work. I haven't heard of a Canon or HP laser printer recently that will not work with acetone to transfer a design. Go to your local office supply store, have them print out a test page for the printers of interest to you, and try them. That way you will know that the one you want does or does not work.
 

monk

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i've been using an ancient hp ink jet for years. #92 black. prints acceptably well. sometimes there's a lag for as high as 3 months. never a clog. "knock on wood".
 

IDJewelry

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Last question - does it just have to be pigment black ink? If an ink jet printer uses “pigment black ink” will it work? Thanks all for your help
 

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