How offset printing ink is manufactured - 8 Steps

Here is a breakdown of how offset printing ink is manufactured.

STEP 1: The vehicle (usually soy bean oil) and pigment are mixed together.  The vehicle is first heated up until it is much thinner and viscuous.  Then the pigment is poured in to the vehicle and a mixing machine thoroughly disperses the ink into the vehicle.


STEP 2: The mix is run through a bead mill.  This is a grinding process whereby small metal beads will break up any clumps of pigment that the vehicle didn’t dissolve.  However this is still considered a very rough grind and the pigment must be broken down even further.

Bead mill

STEP 3: The ink is run through a 3 roller mill.  This machine consist of large steel rollers that run in opposite directions to one another at extremely close distance.  As the ink is run through it, this shear forces the pigment particles to grind down to the smallest size.

Three roller mill

STEP 4: Quality checks.  The ink must now undergo a series of tests to ensure the pigment is ground down sufficiently.  Two of these tests are a grind test and a bleach test.  These tests determine whether the pigment has reached sufficient dispersion.

STEP 5: The ink is put back in the mixer.  At this stage other ingredients are added to the ink, namely binders and modifiers.  These ingredients make the ink suitable for running on an offset printing press.

STEP 6: Another quality control check. Now that all the ingredients have been added, testing must be done to ensure the final added modifiers and binders show the proper values.  This is when properties such as ink tack are checked.

Binders such as this can modifiy ink properties.

STEP 7: Back to the three roller mill.  This thoroughly disperses the pigment into all the ingredients and removes any air.

STEP 8: Packaging. The ink is loaded into totes, drums or pales for distribution.


Those are the basic steps to manufacture offset printing ink. Take note of the picture and watch the videos.