Category Archive: News

What is a Dyne Level?

A wide variety of industries need to determine the surface energy, and surface adhesion properties of the substrates they work with. Dyne solution and dyne pens determine this information by measuring a material’s wettable or non-wettable properties in dynes/cm. Higher dyne levels mean that a substrate has better wettability, which typically means that laminates, adhesives, coatings, paints, and inks will adhere more easily to the substrate.

Dyne test ink and dyne test pens are very useful for identifying substrates with problematically low surface tensions and for determining the level of surface treatment a substrate has acquired through surface treatment.

Dyne Level 101

A dyne level is a measurement of surface energy in energy units referred to as dynes/cm. Understanding the dyne level of a substrate is critical to obtaining correct adhesion, since the material’s surface tension determines which types of media, such as ink, paint and glue will correctly wet the surface of a substrate and form a solid bond. Dyne pens and dyne ink are used to measure the dynes/cm.

Dyne Pens from 3DT

3DT sells both dyne ink test kits and markers with 38 dynes/cm ink. These measure the surface energy of substrates quickly and easily. The dyne ink test kit includes bottles filled with ten dyne inks at graduated dyne levels.  These are used for determining a substrates dyne level both before and after surface treatment. The dyne ink in the kit ranges from 34 – 56 dynes/cm.

Dyne pens are very similar to marking pens but are filled with 38 dyne/cm ink. The pens are filled with this particular dyne ink because polymer plastics with a surface tension of less than 37 dynes/cm will have bonding difficulties. In use, a line is drawn on a surface with the dyne pen. If the line is continuous the material is no less than 38 dynes/cm and will accept media, such as ink, paint and adhesives. However, in many cases, the substrate will need a higher dyne level with the help of surface treatment before strong bonding with media occurs.

Determining a Substrate’s Dyne Level

In most cases, the first step in the testing process to discover a substrate’s dyne level is to clean the substrate and ensure it is free of damage. Next, start with a lower number dyne ink. Press the brush from the ink bottle against the surface of the substrate and create a line across its surface.

Watch for ink beading and the line to shrink or break up at two seconds, then proceed to repeat this process with the next highest level dyne ink. Once the line remains solid at two seconds, the testing is complete, and the dyne ink used corresponds with the dyne level of the substrate.

If the dyne test shows that the substrate’s dyne level is too low, corona and plasma treatment will elevate it. 3DT’s corona technology solves many bonding problems with a variety of materials by improving the surface tension. The term corona treatment refers to the cloud of ionized air released during the corona process. This ionized air, known as corona discharge, can treat the surface of many types of materials.

The corona process involves exposing atmospheric air to different voltages, causing a collision of neutral and electrically charged molecules. This collision creates a heavily loaded zone of ionized air. To avoid this, an isolator is placed between two electrodes, resulting in the corona discharge. This discharge contains the energy necessary to break surface molecular bonds, resulting in a cross-linking reaction that increases the surface tension of the material.

Dyne Pens and Test Kits From 3DT

3DT offers dyne pens in 38 dynes/cm in a convenient pack of ten pens.  They are used just like any other felt tip pen and reveal if a surface has been adequately pretreated to accept ink, adhesives, or paint at 38 dynes/cm.

We also offer a dyne solution test kit, which comes in a hard-shell case with foam lining, instructions for use and ten 30ml bottles of blue test ink in the following measurements:

  • 34 dynes/cmDyne Ink Kit from 3DT
  • 36 dynes/cm
  • 38 dynes/cm
  • 40 dynes/cm
  • 42 dynes/cm
  • 44 dynes/cm
  • 46 dynes/cm
  • 48 dynes/cm
  • 52 dynes/cm
  • 56 dynes/cm

These bottles feature a one-year shelf life once the cap is opened and come with a brush attached to the cap for easy application.

When you have an application where optimal adhesion is critical, you will need to reliably determine the dyne level of your substrate. Dyne test kits make this process fast and simple. For more information about 3DT’s dyne pens and test kits, please see our website at For additional questions, you can contact us or request a quote.