What is solvent printing and when can it be used?

Solvent printing is one of the most commonly used printing techniques. What is solvent printing? In which situations is this technique applied? Find out if you should be using solvent printing, too.

Solvent printing is a popular and cheap big format technique. Why is it worth using it? Can it be used in amateur projects or is it intended exclusively for professional use? Read on to find the answers to these questions below.

What is solvent printing?

According to the definition, solvent printing is a method of printing using a computer peripheral device called an ink plotter. In polygraphy and other areas requiring frequent printing, water-based ink is usually used. Solvent prints are based on solvent inks which are prepared on the basis of organic solvents. Thanks to this, they are used where water-based inks cannot be used. They are not just a replacement but can be applied in printing on every surface containing PVC.

A plotter used in solvent printing provides a wide range of possibilities. Thanks to this, writing and pictures can be printed even on very large surfaces. The material that can be used is also very varied – solvent printing is possible on film, glass, and even self-adhesive film.

The solvent printing method has gained popularity not only because of its universality. It is also relatively cheap compared to other methods offered by printing houses. It is also characterised by being highly resistant to the action of unfavourable conditions. Advertising using the solvent method also resists the action of UV rays and changing temperatures, maintaining its original appearance for a long time. That is why solvents are so eagerly used for big format printing intended for outdoor use.


It’s also worth reading this: FSC- An important standard for the paper and wood industries.

Hard Solvent Printing

Big format solvent printing can be divided into two categories: hard solvent printing and eco-solvent printing, also referred to as soft solvent printing.

Hard solvent printing is used when high precision is not as important to us and when we are more concerned about durability. During the process of imposing organic solvent-based inks, the material is heated and it absorbs the pigments, binding with them permanently.

Hard solvent printing is used when the print (advertising, banners, and signs) is to possess higher than average resistance and durability, being resistant to demanding external conditions. This category includes big format advertising on truck tarpaulins and solvent printing on films commonly used for company car wrapping and stickers. Another application is information signage or advertising, billboards, as well as PVC mesh banners widely used to conceal construction works. The resolution of hard solvent printing is not the highest which is why if it is to be used for advertising, it should be applied only when the advertising is to be viewed from a great distance.

Eco-Solvent or Light Solvent Printing

Eco-solvent printing, also referred to as light solvent printing, is used in completely different situations than hard solvent printing. This means that this technology can be used to obtain the highest quality graphics but they will not be as durable and resistant to all kinds of damage. Advertising printed using the eco-solvent printing method fades more quickly, which is why their lifetime should not exceed one year.

Light solvent printing is characterised by surgical precision. The size of the ink drops ranges from a mere 10 to 15 pixels, which is why this technology is used wherever the printed content will be viewed close up. This category includes advertising in shop window displays, big format posters, roller banners, X banners, and advertising walls. Light solvent printing is perfect for stickers, slap tags, and film posters. The fact that this printing method is cheap also makes it suitable for low print runs.

Solvent Printing vs Offset Printing

Potential clients of printing firms, when looking for information about the most suitable printing technology for their project, usually try to compare solvent printing and offset printing. Offset is used for large print runs like the printing of books, leaflets or brochures. The lower the cost of one copy, the higher the print run. This is because the costs of preparing the duplicating films are quite high. Solvent printing does not have such limitations and, apart from that, as was already mentioned above, the solvent printing method is used when executing different kinds of projects.

The diversity of printing technologies allows the most suitable method to be chosen for specific projects. At Unilogo Digital Printing house, we rely on HP Indigo machines that ensure high quality printing and Printing of Self-Adhesive Labels shrink sleeves.



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