UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
How does printer ink dry so fast? What is it's chemical makeup and what part of it causes it to dry so quickly?
Question Date: 2016-09-29
Answer 1:

Printer ink (for inkjet desktop printers) has two main components: water and pigment (insoluble in water) or dye (soluble in water). The dye or pigment provide the color. In addition, there are some other components to modify the properties of the ink such as anti-foaming agents or surfactants to help lower the surface tension (make it easier to form droplets).

The reason that printer ink dries so fast does not have to do with the chemical makeup but rather with the very small amounts of ink that are used. If you have ever printed a page that was solid color, you might have noticed because that would end up somewhat soggy. If printing text, however, only a small part of the page will receive ink. The letters are made up of many small dots which are droplets of ink. These droplets are a few to several tens of picoliters small, depending on the printer and what is being printed. A liter is a little more than a quart, and a picoliter is the trillionth part of a liter, or the millionth part of a millionth part of a liter. This means that the smallest droplets have about the diameter of a human red blood cell. As you may know from your own experience, a small amount of water spread on a surface dries very quickly. This is why the ink of the printer dries quickly, not a chemical trick.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use