Questions you should ask when shopping for ink dispensers

Streamlining Color Matching with Automated Ink Dispensers: What You Should Know

One of the most important—yet challenging—parts of high quality pad and screen printing is accurate color matching. After taking great pains to get a design just right and selecting the perfect color, there’s nothing quite like that gut-twisting realization that the color of one run is slightly (or, even worse—drastically!) different from the others. 

Whether you’re printing standard Pantone color or creating a custom color, an ink dispenser can help reduce waste (and cost!), eliminate color matching mistakes, and save valuable time. 

Color matching requires precision and in-depth knowledge of color scales and formulas—which takes time and can be tricky to get right—especially mix after mix. When precision and consistency is important, companies seek out color matching services, or hire a full-time color expert in-house, which can work well in the short-term but lead to unnecessary costs, delays, and bottlenecks when print volume picks up.

If you’re working on projects that require color matching and mixing several times a week or more, you may be considering streamlining your color mixing process with an automated ink dispenser. Similar to the paint mixing machines you’ve seen at your local hardware store that accurately matches and mixes buckets of paint in minutes, an automated ink dispenser can drastically cut down on time, eliminate error, and provide major cost savings. 

We’ve used our fair share of ink dispensers here at Marabu, and our favorite is the COROB EVOPWR CX Ink Dispenser. The EVOPWR CX dispenser integrates seamlessly with Marabu’s Color Management Software to house and manage all your color formulas, so you can rest assured you’ll mix the correct ink color each and every time. But regardless of which ink dispenser you ultimately choose, there are some very important questions you need to ask as you research options:

  • What type of ink does the dispenser support? If you’re screen or pad printing, you’re likely using either solvent or UV-curable ink, and the machine you select needs to be made to support your ink preference.
  • How long is the dispense time? For print shops or companies printing at high volumes, every minute of printing “downtime” waiting for ink to mix is a hit to productivity and cost. Ink dispensers select and mix ink quickly and on-demand—faster than any person is capable of—but not all dispensers are made equally. Ink dispensers hold several different canisters, each with different, standard colors of ink. When it’s time to mix a particular color, each canister dispenses the precise amount of ink, which are all combined to create the final, desired color. Most machines dispense colors from each canister one at a time, but the EVOPWR CX dispenses ink from all canisters simultaneously, completing the job 8-12 times faster than other ink dispensers on the market.
  • How easy is the dispensing machine to use? A big reason to invest in an ink dispenser is to eliminate bottlenecks and wait times by not having to rely on a single person or outside service. What happens if your one Color Matcher is out sick, gone on vacation, or is bogged down with work? An ink dispenser shouldn’t require an advanced degree in computer programming or in-depth color knowledge, and overall training time to get someone familiar with the machine should be short. 
  • What’s the cost? All this automation and time savings sounds great, but what’s the bottom line? Doing overall pricing comparisons of different dispensing units is important, but also be sure to look at long-term savings as well, particularly the savings from reduced waste. Often, when companies mix colors in-house, they make an excessive amount “just in case.” The excess isn’t used, and it’s thrown out or forgotten. A big reason we recommend the EVOPWR CX is because not only does it dispense the exact amount you need for a particular job, but the unit itself is half the price of most other dispensers. 
  • What does the setup and install process look like? Once you’ve decided on a dispenser that fits your needs and budget, don’t forget to ask about setup and installation. An amazing machine that just sits in the box because it’s too complicated to set up isn’t useful for anyone. Even with its power, speed, and accuracy, the EVOPWR CX is one of the simplest-designed dispensers on the market. Onsite setup and training is minimal (just a day or two)—and it’s included at no additional fee. 
  • What kind of maintenance and care should I expect? You wouldn’t buy a car without considering the cost of parts and maintenance, and the same considerations apply to ink dispensers. Double check on what routine maintenance looks like and the cost to replace parts. As a general rule of thumb, the more complex a piece of machinery is and the more moving parts it has, the more opportunity there is for things to go wrong. A big benefit of the EVOPWR CX is its simplicity. The nozzle that disposes ink needs to be checked once a week, but beyond that there is no maintenance. And if there is ever a problem, COROB service techs can tap into the unit remotely to identify any issues—many of which can also be resolved remotely. 

To learn more about the COROB EVOPWR CX Ink Dispenser, you can contact someone at Marabu directly. We’ll talk with you about your particular needs, answer any questions you have, help you determine if the EVOPWR CX Ink Dispenser is right for you, and then help you with your order.  You can receive more printing tips here.

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