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FLEXO Magazine : September 2009
64 FLEXO SEPTEMBER 2009 www.flexography.org TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES • The biodegradable packaging market is growing rapidly in advanced countries, especially in the U.S. • The blend of acrylic and bio-based resin (Luron) had slightly lower optical density, and comparable rub resistance. • Bio-based resin exhibits better gloss than acrylic resin. • Bio-based formulations need to be further investigat- ed in order to ﬁnd their optimum performance. Sustainable Green Inks for Flexo Development and Printability Study By Vyankat D. Sindphale, Alexandra Pekarovicova, and Paul D. Fleming Articles, conferences, buyers and consumers are all talking about being green and sustainable. Interest in sustainability within the print and packaging industries has peaked, due to increased demands from customers, en- vironmental groups, investment firms, government agencies and consumers. Is environmentally friendly printing just hype? Perhaps, but it is today 's necessity. Wal-Mart is leading this green movement while supporting industries such as packag- ing, printing and its suppliers follow suit. Due to its low overall content in packaging, ink is not included in Wal-Mart's sustainability scorecard. However, printers continue to ask their ink suppliers about sustainable/green inks. Water-based inks represent an exciting trend in the flexo packaging industry because of their environmentally benign nature and there has been significant growth in their usage as a result. Still, water-based inks contain petrochemical-based raw materials that are poorly biodegradable and will become more expensive and less available in the future. The focus of this research was to investigate, whether water-based inks made from renewable and/or biodegrad- able materials such as a resin could be comparable to, and thus substitute for, conventional flexographic inks printed on paper packaging substrates such as coated news back (CNB) board and solid bleached sulfate (SBS) board. A trial was performed on the Comco Commander flexographic press at the Western Michigan University Printing Pilot Plant. Print performance was analyzed and interpreted. Compari- sons were made among: 1. A regular water-based ink made from acrylic resin. 2. A Half Luron® ink made from a blend of bio-based luron binder and acrylic resin. 3. A Full Luron ink made from a bio-based luron binder only. The Luron binder is made from a renewable source, albuminous protein, which the supplier claims is readily biodegradable. A printability study in terms of optical density, specular gloss, and CIE L*a*b* color coordinate measure- ments was performed. Mottle was studied by Verity IA soft- ware, and dot detail was measured by image analysis using ImageXpert. Finally a standard Sutherland rub resistance was also investigated for these inks. It was observed that the blend of acrylic and bio-based resin (Luron) has comparable printability with acrylic resins in terms of optical density, gloss and rub resistance. INTRODUCTION Green printing refers to the environmental aspects of the printed products, more specifically, environment-friendly printing. "The demand by print customers for printed prod- ucts that have a minimal environmental impact is growing at an extremely rapid pace," said Michael Makin, president and CEO of PIA/GATF1. A company 's environmental friendliness is very important these days because of the growing number of inquiries from customers. "Ninety percent of printers believe their customers will require green printing in the future," claimed a recent survey conducted by PIA/GATF2. The Sustainable Green Printing (SGP) Partnership was founded in June 2007. The SGP Partnership was established by three founding organizations---FTA, PIA/GATF and SGIA. The mission of the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership3 is "to encourage and promote participation in the worldwide movement to reduce environmental impact and increase social A K-proofer with a flexo head. FIGURE 1. Principle of the flexographic printing process.12