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Advantages and Disadvantages of Dry Pigments in a Water-Based System

Dry pigments are essential components in various industries, including ink manufacturing.

They come with a range of advantages and disadvantages that impact their suitability for water-based systems.

In this article, we will explore the key factors surrounding the use of dry pigments, including proper pigment selection, resination, pigment/vehicle compatibility, the production of high-quality dispersions, and ease of dispersion.

Dry pigments

Dry Pigments in a Water-Based System: Enhancing Color and Sustainability

Dry pigments, finely ground colorants in powder form, play a vital role in a variety of industries, from paints and coatings to cosmetics and plastics.

One of the key challenges in many applications is incorporating these dry pigments into water-based systems effectively.

This article explores the use of dry pigments in water-based systems and the advantages they offer in terms of color enhancement and sustainability.

Water-Based Systems and Sustainability

Water-based systems have gained significant popularity in recent years due to their environmentally friendly nature.

Unlike solvent-based systems that release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere, water-based systems use water as a primary solvent, reducing the environmental impact and improving indoor air quality.

These systems are widely used in paints, coatings, inks, and various industrial applications.

Challenges with Wet Pigments

Traditionally, pigments are supplied in wet or paste form, pre-dispersed in water or other solvents.

While this simplifies the incorporation of pigments into water-based systems, it also poses certain challenges.

Wet pigments may contain additives, surfactants, and dispersants that can affect the final product's performance and stability.

Additionally, shipping and storing wet pigments can be costly due to their high water content.

Advantages of Dry Pigments

Dry pigments offer a compelling alternative in water-based systems for several reasons:

  • Enhanced Color Control : Dry pigments provide greater control over the final color of the product. Manufacturers can precisely measure and mix dry pigments to achieve the desired shade, ensuring color consistency across batches.

  • Reduced Environmental Impact : Dry pigments have a lower environmental footprint compared to wet pigments. They require less energy for production and transportation due to their reduced weight and volume. This aligns with sustainability goals and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Improved Shelf Life : Dry pigments have a longer shelf life than wet pigments since they are less prone to microbial growth and spoilage. This leads to reduced waste and better inventory management.

  • Versatility : Dry pigments can be easily incorporated into various water-based systems, including paints, coatings, inks, and more. Their versatility makes them suitable for a wide range of applications.

Dispersion of Dry Pigments

The successful use of dry pigments in water-based systems relies on effective dispersion techniques.

Dry pigments need to be properly dispersed and wetted to ensure even distribution within the system.

This can be achieved through mechanical mixing, high-shear mixing, or bead milling.

In some cases, dispersants or wetting agents may be used to improve dispersion and prevent flocculation.

Proper Pigment Selection

When formulating an ink system, selecting the right pigment is critical.

The choice between dry toner, presscake, or dispersion depends on several factors:

  • Dry Pigment Advantages
    100% dry product, making it easier to formulate inks and concentrated bases.
    Stability over an extended period without changes in properties.
    Wide variety of dry pigments available from manufacturers.

    • Considerations
    Pigment properties beyond hue, including lightfastness, chemical resistance, ease of dispersion, and compatibility within the ink system.
    Available milling equipment and energy required for dispersion.

    • Economic Considerations
      Cost-effectiveness while fulfilling coloristic and resistance requirements.
      Choosing more expensive pigments that offer better overall performance.

      • Testing
      Final testing of the selected pigments for all required resistance properties and specifications to avoid potential issues.


      The degree of resination in pigments is crucial for water-based ink formulation. Resin can impact transparency, dispersion, and stability.

      Key points to note:

      • Resin Functionality
      Resin added during or after pigment manufacturing can inhibit crystal growth, aid in dispersion, and encapsulate pigment particles.
      Resinated pigments may produce more transparent inks.

      • Incompatibility
      Incompatibility may arise when the resin in the pigment clashes with the acrylic resin in water-based systems, potentially leading to poor rheological stability.

      Pigment/Vehicle Compatibility and Stability

      Choosing a pigment that is compatible with the vehicle system is vital.

      Incompatibility can affect rheological stability and shade. Consider:

      • Compatibility Testing

      Test resinated pigments in various vehicle systems to ensure proper rheological stability and compatibility.
      • Instabilities
        Rheological and shade instabilities, particularly with metallized azo red pigments, must be addressed through careful selection and testing.

        Production of High-Quality Dispersions Using Dry Pigments

        The production of pigmented dispersions involves wetting out the pigment, breaking down agglomerates, and grinding. Each phase is crucial:

        • Wetting-Out

          Initial phase involves encapsulating agglomerates with the vehicle, which is critical for successful dispersion.
          Selection of appropriate dispersants and surfactants is important to enhance wetting.

          • Breaking Down Agglomerates
            Smaller clusters form as wetting continues, with further reduction of agglomerates.

            • Grinding
              Final grinding phase further reduces agglomerates, improves color and strength, and enhances gloss and transparency.
              Proper grinding is essential for a fully developed and stable dispersion.

              Ease of Dispersion

              The ease of dispersing dry pigments depends on factors like pigment form, solids content, and available milling equipment. Factors to consider include:

              • Pigment Form

              Dry pigments vary in ease of dispersion, with regular solids presscakes dispersing more easily than high solids presscakes and dry pigments.
              The choice of pigment form depends on the milling equipment and energy available.

              Conclusion Dry pigments offer a wide range of advantages and disadvantages in water-based systems.

              Proper pigment selection, understanding resination, assessing pigment/vehicle compatibility, and achieving high-quality dispersions are critical for successful ink formulation.

              By considering these factors, ink manufacturers can optimize their formulations for various applications while meeting performance and cost-effectiveness criteria.