Materials Which Print-On-Demand Business Works With

More and more entrepreneurs have opted for inkjet printing, a greener and more efficient alternative to the classic one with a master image carrier. Regardless of the substrate, the technology allows you to create high-quality and durable things. Still, for printers, it promises a long way associated with ink preparation. What colored fluids are used, why not every textile can withstand the reactive components of them, and how piezoelectric printing conquers the world read in this article.

For the excellent spreading of the ink droplet onto the substrate, good wetting behavior or low contact angle is necessary. The material's porosity, thermal conductivity, and temperature determine the morphology of the resulting printed elements. For inkjet technology, fairly liquid-colored fluids include several solvent systems with different boiling points. That allows you to reduce the coffee ring effect when the drop hits the material. 

Modern inkjet printing is one of the 2021 trends in print on demand in the industry. This rapidly developing technology conquers the world with prospects: it’s profitable, low-toxic, and doesn’t require colossal labor costs. Controlling the shape and quantity of ink release ensures that all the brilliance of digital designs is accurately reproduced. The editorial staff of Multi-Programming Solutions dealt with the details.

Table of contents

POD: Printing on everything

Polymers and polymer inks

Piezoelectric printing technology and Drop-On-Demand (DOD) printing technique

Printing on textile


Industrial inkjet printing is based on a range of materials that differ in nature, structure, and properties. For example, the ordinary substrates are plastic, paper, cardboard, and textiles. 

Depending on the stiffness, they’re classified as flexible, semi-rigid, rigid. The first one includes materials (e.g., films or laminates) with a thickness of up to 25 µm, the latter - about 150 μm. Plastic bottles, boxes, containers, plates, etc., are often made from rigid substrates. But if your brand is focused on sustainability, you need to be picky about your choice of materials. There are alternative biodegradable plastics such as polylactide, cellulose, and starch-based products.

It’s often difficult for an entrepreneur to keep track of the variety of work processes. For example, finding a supplier who offers organic ink can sometimes take a long time: you communicate, find the best price, make compromises to maintain valuable cooperation, etc. But you can automate many operational tasks using PodZa, one of the best print on demand services. Add functionality at your discretion, contact the 24/7 support service, delegate tasks - why make your life complicated?

Most films require surface treatment before drop-on-demand microdroplet printing as follows:

  • corona discharge in the air;
  • UV radiation;
  • flame activation;
  • hydrolysis;
  • photochemical bud;
  • application of reactive gases, etc.

Semi-rigid and rigid plastic sheets are manufactured by an extrusion process using a slit nozzle. For drop-on-demand technology, commercially available are A-PET / PE, PVC / PE, PP / EVOH, PP, PE. Such pre-activated materials can undergo printing after formation, although the dominant method of decorating is labeling. 

Synthetic pages and polymer-coated boards are made from polyolefin (PP or PE) and have excellent resistance to tearing, the impact of UV radiation, chemicals, water, etc. For example, cartoons with polymer surfaces have different functional properties. They’re often used for POD inkjet printing on polymer cards, book covers, product labels, packaging. 

In our guide on how to start a POD business, the idea of a niche was described, starting from which you can successfully sell several products for a narrow segment of the audience. Beverage bottles, caps, covers, containers, etc., are made from the above materials. They’re often decorated by in-mold labeling using thermophilic printing and polymer inks. Read on for more details. 

While pigments and dyes bring color to the printing ink, resins and polymers hold them as a buffer. They contribute to the flexibility, gloss, and adhesion of the formulation. 

Cellulose, rubber, starch, shellac, and natural resins such as vegetable oils or rosin acids from wood are natural polymers and are often pre-modified before use. For example, the nitration reaction allows the synthesis of nitrocellulose, an excellent film-forming resin for packaging inks. 

Synthetic variants are based on petroleum chemistry and are formed by a polymerization reaction, ranging from 15,000 to 200,000. Their solution polymers such as polystyrene, polyacrylamide, and polyethylene oxide are utilized in fluid formulations to grind and disperse pigments. They control resolubility on the press and color stability. For example, in drop-on-demand inkjet printing of SU8 polymer, the ink has an extremely high viscosity, chemical inertness, and elasticity. The high viscosity of this non-Newtonian fluid is changed with the applied shear stress. Drop-on-demand inkjet printing of SU8 polymeric sand is computer-controlled and depends on different parameters of piezo-actuated printer head: pulse amplitude and length, temperature, nozzle diameter, etc. The droplet diameter increases on non-treated silicon and decreases on a surface terminated by a silane-based self-assembled monolayer.  

Drop-on-demand inkjet printing of SU8 polymer clay is increasingly considered a cost-effective and flexible method. Rapid prototyping capability, high precision dispensing, non-contact material deposition, and low waste are the key benefits of such technology. 

Growing Your Product Range with Sublimation Printing

The DOD inkjet printer was discovered by Siemens in 1977. The principle of its work consists of droplets ejecting from the nozzles by pressure pulse creation, depending on which there are four main types of equipment:

  1. thermal;
  2. piezoelectric;
  3. electrostatic;
  4. acoustic.

Let's take a look at the characterization of drop-on-demand microdroplet printing for less. In this technology, the ink droplets are ejected through the nozzle by piezo-ceramic distortion, which occurs when an electric field is applied. By the way, the piezo drop-on-demand printing center is a rather profitable type of business since there are no limitations on colored fluid type in technology, and the printheads have a long life. However, it’s worth considering the specifics of each paint mixture to expose the equipment to a lower risk of breakage due to micro and nanoparticle scurf on the nozzles. 

Depending on the piezoelectric element deformation, this POD inkjet printing can be divided into four main processes:

  1. bend;
  2. push;
  3. shear;
  4. squeeze.

Various kinds of polymers such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene naphthalate (PEN), polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), and perylene can be utilized as flexible substrates in inkjet printing technology. Each of the materials has individual properties, including dielectric. They’re applied for dye-sublimation and thermal transfer printing. It's commonly applied for polymer plastic kids plates printed on the demand drop ship, decorating clothes, signs, banners, mugs, cell phone covers, and other products with sublimation-friendly materials.

pod polymer services

Piezoelectric drop-on-demand inkjet printing on cloth is possible, but it’s also acceptable on large format textiles such as billboards, draperies, carpets, wall hangings, etc. For example, Zircon enables roll-to-roll printing of polyester fabrics on substrates of up to 1.60 m widths with a resolution of 360 dpi. But Amber, the ultimate entry-level printer, supports continuous digital printing on natural fiber fabrics at 720 dpi.

POD inkjet printing on textile is highly dependent on specific colored fluid and chemical requirements. The operating and firing performance of the materials used during printing needs to be considered. The primary characterization of drop-on-demand microdroplet printing pictures is the mandatory pretreatment of fabrics since thickeners and auxiliary chemicals cause low viscosity inks. However, economical printing on cotton usually utilizes reactive, and pigment inks and the production process usually looks like a print, dry, and then cure/bake. Complex printing usually requires reactive fluids, so textile processing is indispensable.

In the 20th century, one of the most essential technologies of our time appeared, thanks to which POD is successfully developing. Although applying decor to fabric, polymer, or any other material is challenging to understand. So, this knowledge is the basis for creating a successful business. Therefore, the Multi-Programming Solutions have prepared a techno guide that is worth studying before making your brand.

October 25, 2021
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