Soy Ink versus Petroleum-Based Ink

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What is Soy Ink?

Soy ink is made up of a slightly refined soybean oil incorporated with pigments, resins, and various waxes.  These waxes and resins are usually natural based additives. Newspaper printing companies use soy ink regularly because of how easily the ink absorbs into the paper.  As of lately, nearly ninety percent of American newspaper companies utilize soy ink as their ink of choice. A quarter of all commercial printing companies within the U.S. already use soy ink for their prints.  Since refined soybean oil is clearer, this allows for less pigment to be incorporated within the oil for the color to show. Additionally, the clearer base allows for the colored ink to appear sharper and brighter which is more desirable when printing.   

Benefits of Switching to Soy Ink

The soybean oil within the soy ink is completely biodegradable; depending on what the additives of the ink are, they too can be 100 percent biodegradable.  Soy ink produces no hazardous waste and makes the paper it is printed on much easier to recycle. During the de-inking process while recycling paper, soy ink can be removed more easily compared to petroleum-based inks.  Unlike the petroleum used within inks, which is usually crude oil, soybean oil is completely renewable. Soybean oil is also low in VOCs, twenty percent lower than petroleum-based inks. This allows soy ink to comply with the Clean Air Act’s thirty percent limit on VOCs.  

Downsides of Switching

One of the downsides from switching to soy ink is that soy ink is slower to dry than other inks.  Despite the slower drying time, soy ink balances that out by having a higher rub resistance than petroleum-based inks.

Another downside can be the soy ink not being fully natural and non-toxic.  Because the refined soy oil is only a component in the ink, depending on the manufacturer, the pigments added to the soy oil may cause it to become slightly toxic or unable to biodegrade fully.  This downside can be resolved by picking a soy ink with safer pigments and additives.

The final downside several consumers have viewed is how soy ink is usually more expensive than purchasing petroleum-based inks.  In the short run, this statement is seen as true due to the processing of the soy ink. In the long run however, soy ink results in fewer waste of the product, and less ink is used to achieve the same effect, along with less of a cleanup on the printing machines.  On average, soy ink goes nearly fifteen percent further than petroleum-based ink.

For more information regarding soy ink whether you are a manufacturer or a consumer, email us or call today (800)563-1305.