The wide-format printing space has seen significant change and growth in recent years, with a wider variety of output applications available than ever before. It seems new and innovative printing options spring up every day. A major undercurrent throughout this growth period has been the move away from using solvent-based inks toward latex inkjet printing.

What’s driving this shift, and why should your print shop consider making the switch?

It mostly comes down to three major factors: Environmental responsibility, safety and flexibility.

Protecting the environment, in your shop and on your planet

The unpleasant odor and potential health effects associated with airborne compounds of solvent-based inks have historically kept in-house wide-format printing operations from flourishing. This was especially true in hospitals, schools and restaurants.

The solution? Latex ink.

While latex inks have long been praised for their lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) compared with their solvent counterparts, printers have often a cited slow, costly curing and adhesion procedure as the major barrier to entry. Of course, lower VOC-production rates from latex inks are better for overall environmental sustainability (and for enabling operators to spend more time in print environments, in compliance with OSHA air safety regulations),  but the potential increase in cost and decrease in productivity has historically limited widespread latex ink adoption.

However, ink technology and substrate selection have come a long way. Ink curing and adhesion processes have improved significantly, making latex-based inks just as efficient as solvent inks, and enabling printers who have previously been forced to decide between sustainability and their bottom line finally get everything they need.

MORE: 5 Reasons Your Organization Should Go Green

Beyond increased efficiencies, latex inks have also continued to gain momentum in the market for their unique composition, and the ever-improving technologies associated with them. These innovations have brought new levels of flexibility to the wide format space. For example, improved latex ink formulations are now allowing 25 percent lower curing temperatures when using uncoated, non-pre-treated or specially prepared substrates.

Latex flex: More substrates, more possibilities

Another great benefit of Latex inks? They enable printing to a wider variety of substrates, both in terms of color and substance, which provides innovative printers with a larger toolbox to work with. Whether you’re looking to make attention grabbing, eye popping backlit signs, beautifully brand a company car with a wrap, or produce a sharp, customized duvet cover, latex inks can be of assistance – and those examples are just the beginning.

Innovators throughout the print industry are finding lucrative margins, market niches to leverage the flexibility of latex ink and provide services no one else has thought to, and higher customer satisfaction, impressing their customers in the process.

As ink technologies continue to surge ahead, it is becoming increasingly clear that the only limit to what you can print is your imagination.

What are you imagining? Work with wide-format experts to help make it a reality.