Home digital printing The Difference Between Water-Based and UV Inks for Labeling

The Difference Between Water-Based and UV Inks for Labeling

When it comes to labeling, the choice of ink can significantly impact the final product’s appearance, durability, and environmental footprint. At Century Printing and Packaging, we understand the nuances of both water-based and UV inks and have positioned ourselves as experts to help our customers make the best decisions upon choosing labels.

There are a variety of differences between these two types of inks including environmental, durability, and price distinctions.

Environmental Differences

Water-based inks are renowned for their eco-friendliness and do not contain harmful chemicals that may affect the environment or human health. They are FDA-approved for direct food contact, so if there’s a film that wraps around the product, like a nutrition bar, or if there’s a label that goes directly on a fruit or a vegetable, water-based inks will be the best choice. Not only are they visually appealing and informative, but they are also ideal for labels used in the grocery industry. While some UV inks are known for being low-migration, Century Printing and Packaging choose to strictly use only water-based inks for our direct food contact materials.


When it comes to durability, UV ink comes out on top—with its superior brightness, resolution, and color vibrancy compared to water-based inks. UV inks contain photopolymers that are exposed to UV light during the printing process. The resulting reaction produce flawless colors that stand out. Additionally, UV inks are more durable and resistant to degradation, making them suitable for tough environments like beer labels that may come into contact with water or ice. Water based inks in the same environment may require the additional protection (and cost) of varnish or laminate.


In terms of cost, water-based inks are the more economical choice. They are significantly cheaper than UV inks, which can cost four to five times more per pound. This cost difference is something we consider when pricing our services to ensure transparency and value for our customers.

At Century Printing and Packaging, we have been using water-based inks since our establishment in 1997. Our expertise also extends to UV inks, allowing us to guide customers based on their specific needs and end usage. Whether achieving a particular look, ensuring food safety, or enhancing durability, we have the experience and know-how to deliver the best results.

When choosing between water-based and UV inks, we recommend considering your labels’ end usage and priorities. If food safety and cost-effectiveness are paramount, water-based inks are the way to go. However, UV inks may be more suitable if you’re looking for superior color vibrancy and durability.

When deciding between water-based and UV inks, several factors must be considered—from whether the ink will be used in the food industry to its desired performance. Carefully weighing these factors can help you make an informed decision on which type of ink to choose. At Century Printing and Packaging, we are here to help you navigate these choices and ensure your labels meet your unique requirements.

Visit cpandp.com to learn more.

Ben Waldrophttps://cpandp.com
Custom label printer in Greenville County, South Carolina.

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