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FLEXO Magazine : June 2009
FTA TODAY E-Drive: Energy, Environment & Electrons Inks Session Gauges Greener Chemistries E nergy costs, environmental sustainability and electronbeam curing came together to form the backbone of the Ink Session on Tuesday, May 5 at 10:30 a.m. Four speakers and two chairs sequentially intoned one very similar message, “Environmental issues will drive printing’s future.” Session chair John Daugherty of the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers, was the fi rst to make the observation as he opened the discussion in front of some 50 fl exographers. It was soon echoed by co-chair Joseph Schlinkert of Color Resolutions International and then voiced in turn by a press manufacturer, student, professor, and two inkmakers. Two hours of remarks honed in on pigments, performance, priorities press speeds and pollution control. Jose Santiago, Comexi, declared, “Eco-friendly packaging is in demand.” He further noted that both “green inks” and recyclable substrates were hot properties. Santiago then launched into remarks on what he termed “a revolutionary new technology”—”weton-wet” printing. “This technology is real and commercially viable,” he declared. “It represents a collaboration between an ink manufacturer, electron-beam curing manufacturer and press manufacturer.” As demonstrated at drupa, press speeds approximate 500 m/min., or 1,640 fpm. Santiago dubbed present-day fl exography as “the start of a new technological era.” In doing so, he affi xed the “easy but different,” label to EB, and immediately noted that its application reduces dot gain, betters image resolution, and promotes in-line converting. Documentation has shown that the process can save up to 40 percent on energy costs. He assured the audience that wet-on-wet printing entails no curing, results in no volatile organic compound or carbon dioxide emissions and is pollution free. Jose Santiago Courtesy Usman Wibisono. color were: temperature, viscosity, pH, anilox, viewing conditions, substrate and plate surface energy and impression. Ho detailed a research project that she and Keif undertook to determine if it is possible to predict press results off press. The tools—a hand-held proofer, a variety of substrates, and specifi c points of measurement. Keif defi ned acceptable tolerances as plus or minus 0.5 for density, plus or minus 2.0 for hue angle and a delta E of 3.0. Results of his and Ho’s experiment led the duo to conclude that press results can be predicted off press, provided a consistent and systemic procedure for manually applying ink to substrate is followed. James Ford, Color Resolutions International, stressed the metrics of sustainability in a presentation entitled “Beyond the Binder.” He pointed out that ink is composed of resins, solvents, colorants and additives, then noted that the greenest alternative in each component class is coming into higher and higher demand. Defi ning “green” as “tending to preserve environmental quality,” Ford said that he sees sustainability as a growth business. Strategies that printers/converters can deploy or expect to see their peers implement entail simplifi cation of the supply chain and Lean Manufacturing. Both measures are designed to improve pressroom productivity, reduce waste and to some degree promote environmental responsibility. Stephen Postle of Sun Chemical took the role of clean-up speaker as he compared and contrasted waterbased and solvent inks. He admitted that solvent has long been king, but maintained that water-based inks are coming into their own. Research, he noted, now credits solvent inks with having better adhesion and dry fi lm, resistance properties. Lamination bonds and handling characteristics were quite similar between the solvent- and water-based options. Advantages to water, as cited by James Ford Courtesy Usman Wibisono. Stephen Postle Courtesy Usman Wibisono. Andrea Ho Courtesy Usman Wibisono. Malcolm Keif Courtesy Usman Wibisono. Color matching on press was the topic tackled by Andrea Ho, a Cal-Poly student and her professor, Malcolm Keif. Among the ink variables that they credited with affecting 48 FLEXO JUNE 2009 Postle, were regulatory volatile organic compound emissions, environmental impact, solvent retention, visual properties, and health and safety concerns. His conclusion: “For most applications, water is a viable candidate. It can decrease the environmental impact, while still providing the same quality dry fi lm that your packaging customer deserves.” Postle made one additional observation, which spoke directly to subjects raised by his fellow panelists. “As line speeds increase and applications become more demanding, water-based solutions will continue to be viable.” ■ www. f le xography. org
Sustainable Spring 2009