Did you notice how many different black inks there are available? At last count we have forty different black inks listed on our web site. You may be wondering how many shades of black can there be? Well there are actually different shades of black which I will explain in a bit.
The biggest difference is not in the shade of black but the chemistry of the ink itself. I won’t bore you with PH levels, polymers, stabilizers, yada, yada, yada. With the fantastic resolution of inkjet printers these days the nozzle holes in the print heads are getting smaller and smaller. If the ink can’t get through the tiny nozzle hole the result is, yep, you guessed it… a clogged print head.
Black inks are specialized because you want the largest particle size for the blackest black, however, you don’t want it to be too big as to risk clogging the print head. Most printers have different diameter nozzle holes which is why there are so many specific kinds of black ink.
Some black inks can be used in different printers that use the same basic technology like HP and Lexmark. Many of our black inks for these printers are actually the same exact thing poured from the same bottles.
Still particle size is not the only issue. Thermal viscosity also plays a role. This is the amount of heat the ink can withstand before breaking down. Call it the boiling point if you will.
Epson and Canon have the lowest operating temperatures whereas HP and Lexmark have the highest. These print head fire at many thousands of degrees Fahrenheit. If you are using an ink that is not designed to withstand temperatures of this magnitude then you are likely to run into problems.
Then you have the standard grade vs. the hi grade black ink. The standard grade may print a lot grayer than the hi grade which we call “Ultra Black”. This is mostly prominent in pigmented black inks. If your black print looks a little on the gray side you might want to upgrade to the Ultra Black ink.
Also there is photo black. Photo black inks are always dye based since pigmented inks do not mix well with the dye based colors. These inks are formulated to “get along” with their color counterparts for the best results in photos.
So now you are all black ink experts. After reading this is anybody motivated to buy one of those universal kits? I shutter to think what their budget for lawsuits is. 🙂