When all is said and done, it's ink that pays the bills, builds our reputation, and hopefully makes you want to read this blog from time to time.The ink business has been through a trying couple of years recently, and it would be difficult to say that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
First there was a serious shortfall in the flax crop in 2004-5. Flax, as you might know, is the source of linseed oil - a key ingredient in printmaking inks. Through a little bit of networking and some luck, we were able to minimize the impact of the price increases that followed.
This year there are a myriad of problems caused in part by inflation, and in part by what's going on with gasoline/oil prices. The shortened version of the story: container prices - up, pigment prices - up, freight charges - up, the Euro - up..up..up. While we can't say that prices won't rise, we've done a lot to minimize the impact on your bottom line. We've worked well with all of our suppliers to insure that we can purchase raw materials at the best prices possible.
The photo above is of a really old ink mill - one we use countless times a day in producing inks for intaglio, litho, relief and some letterpress inks - the same way that my grandfather, R.P. Faulkner, and my father, Vern Clark, did. The mill is old and slow (a lot like me), but that's what insures the quality that we strive for. The three rollers turn in opposite directions, at different speeds - creating a shearing type action. This shear is what makes sure that each particle of pigment is enveloped in vehicle - giving you a smooth, consistent quality ink.
Different inks use differing amounts of pigment load, depending upon the intended use. An etching ink, in general, has less pigment load than litho or relief inks, because an etching ink usually achieves its color with a thicker film of ink. That film provides more pigment to a given spot on the print, and insures that the color prints as intended. Litho and relief inks need a great deal more color load because the color must be achieved with a very thin film.
Take a look sometime at our color chart. The Perfection Palette inks show two colors on that chart. The darker color is what prints with an intaglio print, the lighter color is the same ink printed with a relief print.
In closing, I want to extend a very special greeting to the brains of Graphic Chemical & Ink Company - my wife, Susan, who took leave of her senses 32 years ago today, and married a poor ink maker. Thanks, honey.