Testing your ink is a critical part of your commercial printing business. Whether you’re testing Epson wide-format printer inks or oil-based inks for more detailed projects, you need to conduct tests to make sure your prints are high-quality, aren’t causing problems for your printer, and are cost-effective.

There are two main types of ink testing for commercial printing: PTS-DF 103/2011 and ISO 18935. These tests measure the physical properties of the ink’s formula to gauge exact drying times, durability, migration, and more.

With so many commercial ink cartridge options on the market, it can be difficult to know which inks have undergone rigorous testing to ensure their quality. However, reputable ink companies typically test and verify the quality and effectiveness of their formulas before they hit the market.

Why Ink Testing Matters

Ink testing is incredibly important for your business, and we aren’t just talking about checking the ink levels on your Epson printer. Whether your client is printing traceable codes on their product for regulatory purposes or they need detailed banners and vinyl wraps, you want your ink to be vibrant and lasting.

The majority of commercial prints need to be legible and durable, depending on their use. Many reputable ink brands test their inks for their:

  • Dry time
  • Durability or resistance against UV rays, heat, water, alcohol, etc.
  • Adhesion levels with different substrates
  • Whether or not the ink’s formula can penetrate condensation

By testing based on these factors, you can ensure that your prints don’t blur, fade, or rub off during your client’s product’s lifecycle. With longer lasting inks and uncompromised quality, your clients will keep coming back to you for their future printing needs.

The Two Types of Ink Testing

Generally speaking, each ink developer has their own approach to formula testing. However, there are two tests that are used industry-wide. These tests were developed from techniques created by the Paper Technology Foundation (PTS), a German organization that provides a wide range of testing services to the commercial printing and packaging industries.

With these tests, companies can better understand the physical properties of their ink formulas:

PTS-DF 103/2011

The PTS-DF 103/2011 test was designed to test the drying time for thermal inkjet printing (TIJ). So, how does it work? This test creates GS1 data matrix codes at 300 DPI and tests them by using an automated wiping unit. At certain time intervals, the wiping unit swipes across the printed barcodes to note how quickly they become smudged.

Professionals conducting this text can record accurate data for the ink’s degradation and drying times. While this test is primarily for barcodes, it can still provide important data and information for other printed designs.

ISO 18935

An ISO 18935 test determines the water resistance of an ink. Just like with PTS-DS 103/2011, this test begins with creating a series of GS1 data matrices at 300 DPI. However, instead of a wiping unit smearing across the printed data, the codes are submerged in deionized water. The codes sit in the water for one hour before being removed and drying out on a glass plate.

Once the codes have dried, the tester evaluates the quality of the codes using a code reader. This data helps ink developers evaluate how a formula reacts‒or doesn’t react‒to moisture and water presence.

Are There Other Tests?

While PTS-DF 103/2011 and ISO 18935 are the most popular ink tests for commercial ink, there are similar tests that exist for other elements. This can include, but is not limited to ink migration, sunlight resistance, and heat resistance.

High-Quality Inks at Airmark

For more than thirty years, Airmark’s experts have provided companies across the world with the cutting-edge sign-making technology they need to be leaders in their markets. In addition to providing the highest-quality inks from the top name brands, we can connect you to the state-of-the-art equipment compatible with these materials. This allows you to scale your business while providing luxurious, durable prints that attract top-paying clients.

If upgrading your equipment seems like a daunting task, Airmark offers more than just physical resources. Our team of experts can provide extended software support so your team can get up-to-speed on the latest in printing technology. Ready to get started? Explore our range of commercial printing equipment, inks, and more today!