Superior Ink X Living Ink


Superior Ink has partnered with Living Ink Technologies to explore the environmental benefits of using algae ink in our screen print facility. We learned how the algae ink is processed and why it's a better alternative to petroleum-based inks, and also how sustainability is the relentless and formidable act of self-discipline. 

In the world of textile printing and fast fashion, it's important to explore newer and greener alternatives to help shift the evolution of sustainability. The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries and we are doing our best to learn new alternatives to help fix these issues. It is a continual journey and we hope to inspire other print shops and brands to make positive changes.

Live ink printed algae ink tee shirt

Let's explore what Living Ink and algae ink are all about! 

In 2013 Scott Fulbright and Steve Albers found out the harsh reality of how screen printing ink produces toxic petroleum. They knew there had to be a more environmentally better alternative. Scott and Steve wanted to replace petroleum products with renewable, bio-based, safe, and carbon-negative compounds. From there Living Ink was inspired! Over the years Living Ink has worked tirelessly to develop high-performance inks that contain algae-based pigments. 

What exactly is algae ink?

Algae Ink is a unique, innovative specialty environmentally friendly printing ink. It is similar to many traditional inks, except that the pigment component is completely bio-based and renewable. Approximately 6-10% of the ink is bio-based pigment.

What is Algae Black?

It is a renewable, bio-based, and safe carbon black alternative. Algae by-product material is transformed into small, black pigments. This material is produced in dry powder or liquid pigment.

What is carbon black?

Carbon black is a pigment used within the ink, textiles, plastics, and rubber industries. It is derived from heavy petroleum such as FCC tar, coal tar, or ethylene cracking tar. It is listed as a class 2b carcinogen according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Thus, carbon black is hazardous to human health, causes environmental degradation, is non-biodegradable and is produced using finite resources.

What kind of products can Algae Black work in?

Algae Black pigments can be used to color ink, plastics, cosmetics, and textile products.

Algae Black Screen Printing Ink Details

Where is the algae grown that makes Algae Black? What is an Algae by-product?

Living Ink uses by-product algae material grown at Earthrise Nutritionals, located in Imperial County, California. The algae are grown using sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, and nutrients. Algae such as spirulina are grown for a blue colorant called phycocyanin, which is extracted and used as a natural food colorant. The remaining material is considered an algae by-product. Living Ink uses this left-over material for a bio-based black pigment.

What are the environmental benefits of using algae? 

Earthrise Nutritionals grows algae called spirulina using sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide from the air. Algae grow faster than terrestrial plants and are renewable. When algae grow it absorbs CO2 and produces oxygen. Algae do not use traditional farmland, thus production does not displace food production. 

FUN FACT - Every 45 pounds of Algae Screen Ink we produce keeps 3.74 pounds of petroleum (crude oil) from being used. Additionally, because Living ink is carbon negative, using a 45-pound bucket of Living Ink is like planting two trees!


What colors does Living Ink produce?

Exclusively black. However, our black is as black as traditional carbon black, while being resistant to UV light degradation (i.e. it doesn’t fade). 

What type of ink is available?

Does Algae Ink need special printers to use?

Nope. It is easy to use. The chemists at Living Ink have developed ink formulations that store, print, and clean just like traditional petroleum-pigmented ink. This means you can work with Living Ink’s printing partners or suggest your current printer use Algae Ink for your next job. Living Ink produces as well as distributes this specialty ink.

What is the value of using Algae Ink?

Algae InkTM is the first commercially available ink with bio-based pigments. The pigments are renewable, safe, innovative, and provide a compelling storytelling component to your printed materials.

Here at Superior Ink, we are sustainably focused and quality-driven. We will continue to push the envelope by becoming more sustainable and partnering with companies and brands that share our same passions for reducing our carbon footprint. 

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