Cranfield Caligo Safe Wash oil based relief inks

Caligo manufactures oil-based printing inks for the contemporary fine art printmaker. We are plaesed to remain a family owned company and we have been making Fine Art printing inks for over three generations.

The Caligo product range includes traditional printing inks for intaglio, lithography, relief and letterpress printing. We also make inks for more specialist print making applications such as inks for Collotype printing and Letterpress.

We have recently introduced a new range of Safe Wash Inks (for relief and intaglio printing.) Caligo Safe Wash inks are oil-based, but they have been designed to clean up safely with just liquid hand soap and water. No solvents are needed !

' Caligo are one of the few independent ink manufacturers that have the facilities and experience to make printing inks from dry pigment colours. This means we have full control over every aspect of ink formulation and production - starting from the initial selection of raw materials and right through to the filling and sealing of the tin or tube of ink in your print studio.

dry yellow pigment

grinding ink

cans yellow ink

The majority of our ink ranges include the primary (process) colours of cyan, magenta and yellow (CMY) for those print makers who wish to create colour prints using digital colour separation techniques and photomechanical print processes.

We take care to select and use light fast pigments in our formulations and so our inks are rated at least 6 or higher on the International Blue Wool Scale.

Traditional Inks

We manufacture traditional oil-based printing inks for all the traditional print making processes including intaglio printing (etching, aquatint etc.) relief printing (lino cut, wood cut, wood engraving, flexography, mono-print and letterpress) and offset or direct lithographic printing (from stone, metal or from photographic plates).

ink colour charts


Caligo Ink Factory

Our ink factory provides a unique base for the manufacture of Caligo's Fine Printing Inks. We use traditional methods of ink manufacture using dry pigments, linseed stand oils and triple roll 'ink grinding' mills. We compliment these tried and tested methods and materials with modern technologies such as digital colour matching.

Colour Mixing Shop

We enjoy working with dry colour and fill our colour shop with specialist pigments ranging from the strong, vibrant colours of the modern organic pigments, the muted tones of the natural earths and the unique beauty of the inorganic colours such as ultramarine. Our range of black pigments include fluffy lamp black, dense bone black, genuine Vine black as well as a range of traditional carbon blacks.

In our colour shop, we use high-speed mixers to disperse the dry pigments into a range of mediums such as traditional copper plate 'stand oils' and linseed oil varnishes. The dispersion process is often called 'pigment wetting' and the aim is to break down the clusters (agglomerates) of dry pigment and remove any pockets of air. Once all the air has been replaced by oil, the ink dispersion is ready for further refining in the milling shop

Milling Shop

We use traditional water-cooled triple roll mills to grind the pigment dispersions that arrive from the colour shop. The aim of ink grinding on a mill is to thoroughly mix the whole batch of ink and to reduce the average size of pigment agglomerates to the approved standard we set for each ink. At each stage of manufacture, we carry out a series of quality checks in our ink laboratory to ensure each batch we make meets the approved standard. Once a batch of ink has been approved, the finished ink is dispensed into a choice of containers ranging from traditional metal cans and tubes to plastic cartridges.

One of the triple-roll ink mills

Overview of production area

Quality Control

In our ink laboratory we can test each new batch of ink we make for strength, colour, tack, drying time, print-ability, viscosity, fineness of grind and light fast rating. We keep an ink reference standard for each ink we make so that we can be sure that our inks remain consistent from batch to batch and from year to year. The company was one of the first to implement the ISO 9002 Quality standard for the manufacture of fine art printing inks.


in 1999 Caligo was recognised as the Welsh 'Small Environmental Company of the Year' for the development of environmentally friendly Safe Wash Relief Inks. Safe Wash inks can be cleaned with soap and water, without the need for harmful solvents. Caligo also holds the ISO 14001 Quality standard for the environment. Caligo inks do not contain heavy metals. 2005 sees the launch of Caligo Safe Wash Etching Inks - oil based inks that can be cleaned up safely with just liquid hand soap and water.