How are dry erase markers made?

How many times do you think you’ve used a dry erase marker? Hundreds, perhaps even thousands of times? Some of us interact with these objects on a daily basis, but do not have the slightest inclination of what they are made of and how they function. I was recently writing on one of Magnatag’s own whiteboards earlier this week and I found myself asking this same question. So I did some research around the office. I questioned our R&D department and in turn, I developed a better understanding for how dry erase technology works.

In order to gain an understanding for how dry erase markers work, we must first examine and understand the science behind permanent markers. Permanent markers are made up of three components: colored pigments, a solvent (be it water, alcohol, or another solution entirely varies on a manufacturer to manufacturer basis), and a polymer. Permanent markers commonly use an acrylic polymer in their ink, which helps the marker stick to the writing surface. The polymer, in addition to the solvent and pigments, is then mixed to form the ink of the marker. The ink is then stored in a polyester reservoir that helps contain the ink inside the plastic casing of the marker. Top that off with the plastic casing and a felt tip and—voilà—you have just created a permanent marker! Of course, this is much easier said than done, but you get the picture.


Dry erase markers are created in an identical manner, with the main difference deriving from the polymer that is used during the creation process. Dry erase markers utilize an oily silicone polymer to prevent the ink from sticking. This type of lubricating surface acts as a barrier, preventing the color pigments from binding to the surface of the whiteboard. While this polymer is the deciding factor when it comes to differentiating permanent and dry erase markers, you must also be conscious of the surface you are writing upon.

Dry erase markers are only compatible with non-porous surfaces. When using this type of surface, print only resides upon the outermost layer of the board. This allows for the marker to be easily erased, without damaging the integrity of the dry erase template. If you’ve ever gotten dry erase ink on your clothes, you know that dry erase markers can stain. If a dry erase marker is used outside of its conventional use on a whiteboard or a similar writing surface, the ink soaks into the surface, functioning just like a permanent marker.

In short, dry erase products work due to the relationship between the silicone polymer found in dry erase markers, and the non-porous surface utilized by whiteboards. The oily polymer enables the ink to be easily wiped away, while the non-porous base of the surface prevents the ink from soaking in.

If you find yourself in the market for a dry erase surface, you should stop by our site! With over 2300 unique variations of whiteboards available for purchase, Magnatag has something in store for everyone.

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