I had an email from a customer this week who was printing menus for a restaurant and wanted to know how to prevent the ink from bleeding when coming into contact with water.
Due to the fact that almost all inks are water soluble (eg: pigments and dyes) when they come into contact with water their natural tendency is to bleed or if only freshly printed to smudge.
In tests we have conducted over the years we have found that the actual Genuine inks take much longer to dry and unless left for some time will smudge very easily. There are certain Epson printers which boast that their combination of inks and papers are totally waterproof.
This is partly true however the costs of the inks and paper are ridiculously high ! Due to this alone most people don't wish to use the Epson as costs far outway the advantages of being more bleed and smudge resistant.
A Better and Cheaper Solution
After trying several methods which were not really successful I found a website claiming that spraying the paper with hair spray actually stopped the bleeding. Not just any hair spray but apparently VO5 Firm Hold Hair Spray was the best one for the job!
Not having much hair myself I headed for my sons room and found exactly what I was looking for, yes VO5 Firm Hold ! After spraying the hair spray on several pieces of freshly printed paper I was surprised to see how well it worked. After applying generous amounts of H2O to the paper there was almost no signs of bleeding at all !
Laser Printing - the more expensive solution
If you don't have the time to spray your prints with hair spray then a better solution is to simply use a laser printer. Laser printers don't actually use ink but they use a powder known as "toner".
The toner powder actually gets baked onto the paper at very high temperatures. This in turn creates a very tough and durable print which is almost completely resilient to water. Due to the cost of Laser Printers however this method becomes much more expensive.
Final thoughts and solutions
If none of the above methods appeal to you and if you are only doing small amounts of water resistant printing then maybe you could look into purchasing a laminator. Once laminated no amount of moisture will effect the print.
Whatever method you chose be sure to drop us an email and let us know what method worked for you.