Printing Ink Day – January 17, 2023

Printing Ink Day is celebrated annually on the closest Tuesday to January 16, since 1977. It is a day we can all come together to remember one of our most essential office tools. We get to know what inks are made of, where they come from, and what they are used for.

Ink is generally a colorant, such as a pigment or dye used to deliver color to a surface like paper.

Back in the day, there were no printers or ball pens to take notes so people used materials like colored vegetables or blood of fish amongst others. Imagine having to kill a fish every time you needed to send a note to a friend. This could take the fun out of it.

History of Printing Ink Day

Ink has been around for a long time. The first man-made ink was most likely developed in Egypt about 4,500 years ago. It was formulated by mixing carbon suspensions in water with additives like egg albumen and natural gums to hold it together. Later on, in 2500 B.C. the Chinese and Egyptians simultaneously developed inks made from similar materials, soot derived from wood smoke and animal fat, and condensed with a substance from animal skin called gelatin. Soot is a dark pigment, hence why most writings found from that time were black. They would use an adhesive gum material to mold them into rods which were eventually dried and stored. Upon use, they would take the rod and dilute it in water to activate it before application.

Around 400 B.C., Indians developed their ink called Masi, it was made from burnt bones, tar, and pitch, and like our modern-day pens, a needle was used to apply the ink to parchments. Following them, the Romans created a new type of ink with the use of ground irons and tannin from gallnuts, which formed the basis for inks through the coming centuries. In 1440, the mechanical printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg, but it had a unique problem. Existing ink did not absorb fast enough into the paper and inconveniently smudged as the press moved. To find a solution to this problem Gutenberg came up with the first oil-based ink made from turpentine, walnut oil, and soot. This singular contribution to the print world earned him the title “Father of Print.”

In 1772, the first patent was issued in England for making colored ink and as the millennia advanced, new print technology developed. In the 1970s, there was an oil crisis and printers started looking for an alternative to petroleum-based inks. Such as water, soy, and vegetable-based ink which are more sustainable and friendlier to our environment.

Printing Ink Day timeline

2500 B.C.
Ink Is First Developed

The Egyptians and Chinese develop ink made from soot, animal fat, and gelatine.

1440
The Printing Press Is Invented

Johannes Gutenberg invents the first mechanical moving type press also known as the Printing press.

1857
An Unplanned Discovery

William Henry Perkin discovers the first type of synthetic dye when he tried to find a cure for malaria.

1977
Printing Ink Day

Printing Ink Day is first observed on the closest Tuesday to January 16.

Printing Ink Day FAQs

Is printing on paper bad for the environment?

Despite what some people may think, Things have truly evolved in the print world. It is now used in many beneficial aspects of our lives. And the information we print on paper provides not only environmental, social, and economic benefits but also helps maintain public health, welfare, and the environment, making paper one of the few sustainable products in the world.

What is C.M.Y.K. in printing?

It stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. They are further referred to as ‘full-color printing’ or ‘four-color printing’ and are the most commonly used printing technique. Using these four primary colors as its base, varying combinations of these four is what produces virtually every color you can think of.

Which printer is right for you, Inkjet or Laser?

Inkjets are generally less expensive to buy, though the ink used for these is more expensive. Laser printers are good for text and documents whereas Inkjet printers are better at printing photos. Also, as well as being more expensive to buy, laser printers are usually heavier and take up more space than the more compact inkjet printer.

How to Celebrate Printing Ink Day

  1. Read and learn more

    You can take out some time today to read and learn more about the history of printers and ink. There’s a ton of information that I'm sure you're bound to find out.

  2. Look out for coupons

    If you work in an office-type setting or make use of a printer occasionally, today is a good day for you to take advantage of some good printing ink coupons.

  3. Refill your printer Ink

    Like most of our everyday and mundane tasks, we often forget to refill our printer ink. So take out some time today to give your ink friend some extra care and maintenance.

5 Important Facts About Printing

  1. The first printing press

    There are recent findings that show that the first movable printing press was created in China, about 200 years earlier than Gutenberg’s invention.

  2. The fastest printer in the world

    The fastest office printer in the world is currently the HP OfficeJet Pro X, it printed 500 sheets of paper in seven minutes and 18 seconds.

  3. Printing facilitated the renaissance

    Without the printing press, it may have been near impossible for artists to share ideas and designs through books and parchments.

  4. Hulk’s green color was a printing mistake

    Stan Lee initially wanted the hulk to be grey but during the printing of the series, each copy resulted in different shades of green.

  5. The most printed book in the world

    The “Bible” has over five billion copies sold and distributed in over two thousand languages.

Why We Love Printing Ink Day

  1. It is revolutionary

    The creation of printing has been a monumental discovery, to say the least, without printing, we wouldn't have books, we wouldn't read the news, we wouldn't have movies, or be able to learn or fill forms to travel. This breakthrough has opened doors for the fast distribution of information.

  2. It encourages research

    As the years progress, so does the need for new ink and print solutions. The future holds so many possibilities and this day encourages research in print technology and production.

  3. It is a mini-history lesson

    You have to agree that many of us are oblivious to the interesting stories behind many of our everyday items and tools. This day is a wonderful excuse for us to visit our history books and learn a little more about how far our inks have come.

Printing Ink Day dates

YearDateDay
2022January 18Tuesday
2023January 17Tuesday
2024January 16Tuesday
2025January 14Tuesday
2026January 13Tuesday

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