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Ink – One of mankind’s oldest tools, still in use.

Ink is simply a dye or pigment in liquid that is used to mark a surface. Without ink early mankind would not have been able to produce lasting written texts. It is said that the Chinese developed writing inks first to blacken the surfaces of carvings, and it was a mixture of soot from pine smoke, lamp oil, and gelatin from animal skins and musk. Inks have also been made using the black ‘ink’ that some sea creatures produce to confuse enemies. Various cultures eventually developed their own until now we have inks of various types, uses and colors. Romans used soot, glue and water, while medieval Europe used a complex procedure to boil up bark, dry it and salt it and mix it with wine to make ink.

The inks that are often found on printed paper are pigmented inks, which adhere to the surface of the paper. They therefore cannot be removed by abrasion and because they stay on the surface less ink is required.

Dyes are used in ink to provide much better color control. With dyes the density of the dye can be regulated to get different intensities. They are rarely used in paper printing because they soak in and tend to bleed out as well as being less efficient. This can be beaten using quick drying solvents mixed into the ink or quick drying techniques such as blow drying. Some printers coat the paper with a substance to make the ink adhere to it, or charge the coating so that the ink, with an opposite charge, is attracted to the coating.

Without ink we would still be carving messages into stone, or making simple paintings on cave walls. Ink is the bridge between writing, one of man’s greatest inventions, and speed and efficiency. With ink we get mobility, variety of forms, and it has never become obsolete as it is still used in printing presses, computer printers and pens.

About the Author: John Gibb is the owner of ink resources
, For more information on inks check out

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