May 28, 2021 

The History of Industrial Product Ink Brands

Industrial ink

Printing has existed in various forms for hundreds of years, beginning in the third century with Chinese woodblock printing and later advancing in the mid-1400s with Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. Today, printing has culminated into a diverse industry, filled with different machines, ink types, and printing techniques.

One of the printing techniques that has become essential to our modern commerce systems is industrial printing. Shipping labels, barcodes, lot numbers, and expiration dates are crucial for proper product transportation, inventory control, and retail processes. Direct part marking is also a necessity in many manufacturing sectors, including aerospace engineering, automotive production, and electronic development. With these markings, a company can prevent counterfeiting, ensure supply chain traceability, and guarantee its materials are safe. 

Below we examine the history of industrial product ink brands that make this level of large-scale coding possible, with a focus on four of the most prominent companies in the industry.

1. Videojet Technologies, Inc.

Videojet is one of the most well-known brands in the modern coding and marking industry. An international organization, Videojet has more than 30 direct operations and 175 distributors throughout 135 countries. This global network stretches across North America, South America, Asia, and Europe, and is used to sell everything from continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers and thermal transfer overprinters to laser marking systems and printing consumables

Videojet has been instrumental in advancing coding technology and has become a global leader in industrial printing. Before adopting the name Videojet Technologies, Inc., the group was a subdivision of the now-defunct A.B. Dick Company. From the late 1800s to the mid-1950s, the A.B. Dick Company was most well-known for selling the Edison-Dick Mimeograph, the world’s first duplicating machine. The Mimeograph helped companies produce typed copy at a rapid pace, making it a staple of early 20th century industrial production.

To capitalize on the success of their printing operation, the A.B. Dick Company formed Videograph Operations—the precursor to what would eventually become Videojet Technologies, Inc. From the late 1950s to the late 1990s, this group created groundbreaking CIJ printers and ink formulas that broadened the capabilities of industrial ink. After a series of expansions, acquisitions, and name changes, the company eventually became what it’s known as today.

Now owned by Danaher Corporation, a global conglomerate, Videojet remains prominent in the coding and marking industry.

2. Gem Gravure 

Headquartered in Hanover, Massachusetts, Gem Gravure has been developing ink technologies since 1952. Founded by engineer Joseph Gemel, the company’s first focus was on helping wire manufacturers streamline the coding/marking process. To do so, Gemel began developing industrial inks and invented a machine that used a chrome wheel to transfer the ink onto moving wires. With this technology, wire producers could mark their wires at a far greater pace than previously possible. 

While wheel printing is still in use today, Gem Gravure has since expanded its operation to include other coding technologies like CIJ and contact printers. Today, the company develops and sells inks for a variety of fields. Although they are still best known for their wire and cable formulas, they also offer application-specific inks for:

Gem Gravure is well-known for its pigmented ink formulas. Instead of purchasing outside color agents, the company manufactures and grinds its own pigment. Using this in-house pigment, Gem Gravure is able to offer clients highly customized ink formulas that deliver industry-leading results. As such, one of the company’s significant revenue streams involves private labeling formulas for OEMs and market competitors.

Gem Gravure has also held partnerships with the printing giant Domino, selling Domino’s CIJ systems and developing custom inks for its printers. These printer deals and in-house inks have helped Gem Gravure maintain its status as a market leader in wire and cable printing. 

3. InkJet, Inc.

Founded in 1989, Willis, Texas-based company Inkjet, Inc. is a major producer of aftermarket inks and distributor of printing hardware and consumables. Its internal ink chemists specialize in creating formulas for popular printers such as the Videojet 1000 CIJ series. Sold at lower price points than original equipment manufacturer (OEM) formulas, Inkjet’s aftermarket consumables benefit companies who are looking for a way to cut back on costs without sacrificing quality. 

Now a leader in industries such as automotive, commercial, and pharmaceutical printing, Inkjet’s service reaches more than 55 countries around the world. Some of the company’s most popular products include:

4. Independent Ink, Inc.

Like InkJet, Inc., Independent Ink, Inc. specializes in creating aftermarket inks that are more affordable and higher-performing than OEM alternatives. Located in Los Angeles, California, Independent Ink was founded in 1939 to supply government agencies and military posts with specialty ink and solvents. Given the challenging conditions in which military equipment is often used, Independent Ink focused its efforts on creating formulas that could withstand rugged environments and physical maneuvering. This focus made its inks perfect for aerospace and automotive applications.

In 1980, Independent Ink was contracted by a major bottling company to develop formulas for its CIJ and other drop-on-demand (DOD) printing technologies. After that, Independent Ink fully entered into the private sector, selling ink formulas specifically for:

To date, Independent Ink has sold more than two million gallons of product.

The History of Industrial Product Ink Brands Doesn’t End Here

Although these four companies constitute a large portion of the coding and marking industry, they are not alone. Other names such as Collins Company are also commonly heard throughout the industry for their quality machinery and application-specific solutions. 

As history has shown, coding and marking technology is continually evolving. It’s important to look ahead to the industry’s future, and C+M Digest will keep you informed of its growth and development.

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C&M Digest Team

The C&M Digest Team is composed of experts from across the coding and marking world. Comprised of ink developers, hardware veterans, and engineers, our News Team delivers informed coverage that is always free from brand bias.

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