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FLEXO Magazine : Sustainable Fall 2009
Improvement is a focus of every business; whether it be creating a better product, expanding the customer base or minimizing costs, upgrades are a necessity. Increasing sustain- able practices isn't just up to the consumer anymore. The sustainable movement should go beyond home and into the workplace. United Engravers Inc. is taking the right initiatives to improve its facility in an eco- friendly way. Following in the footsteps of environmentally aggressive companies, United began to focus on upgrading to a more sustainable process throughout the entire facility. After attend- ing a conference in the Spring, we realized that sustainability is here to stay," said United Engravers President Peter Cappas. It isn't going away. This is an opportunity to analyze our business model and work toward a more sustainable product." Starting with investment, the Schaumburg, IL printing plate manufacturer purchased a MacDermid 52in. by 110in. dual manifold liquid-photopolymer system. Reserved primarily for production of I-plates, also known as in-position plates (see FLEXO Dec. 2008, page 20), the device promotes environmen- tal responsibility. In the last several years, there has been a significant increase in the number of I-plate orders," said Dave New- berry, UEI's technical director. We have seen more than a 50 percent shift in the number we produce here." After making room for the new installation, renovation moved into the office. What was once a combined office for customer service and sales on the main level is now reserved solely for customer service, with sales staff upstairs. Recycled material and energy-saving products were used in an effort to move sustainability from the production floor to the offices. The next goal was to bring sustainable efforts across the board, with wind energy. By purchasing power from a renewable source, UEI was able to focus all aspects of its facility---the production area, office and entire building---on sustainability. RECYCLE FIRST Even before sustainability" was introduced into business language, UEI was doing its part. United works with DuPont and local businesses to recycle pallets and boxes," said Cappas. Currently, all sheet photopolymer boxes are being recycled." Sheet photopolymer boxes are shipped back to DuPont and reused for additional deliveries. Pallets are also reused; they are picked up by local businesses and recycled for future shipments. LESS PHOTOPOLYMER, LESS DAMAGE United's focus on sustainability was also geared toward liquid photopolymer. The purchase of the 52in. by 110in. ma- chine in the Spring of 2009 served two purposes. To account for the increase in I-plate orders, the new unit would predomi- nantly produce them, giving United Engravers the benefit of another liquid machine, and a sustainable method to create orders. The new MacDermid unit is also the only one of its kind ever made. I-plates are sometimes referred to as Island-plates" due to the islands of photopolymer formed. In an I-plate, photopoly- mer forms only in imaged areas, creating the appearance of several islands." Liquid plates cause less damage to the environment, and the carbon footprint of liquid is far smaller," said Newberry. Liquid is a greener option, and less photopolymer is used when creating I-plates. Compared to a conventional solvent sheet printing plate, the I-plate reduces photopolymer by up to 50 percent. MacDermid recently noted that a platemaker using .250in. conventional sheet plate material, and processing 50,000sq.ft. of solvent a year will use approximately 55,000lbs of photo- polymer in a year. However, with I-plate technology, the same platemaker would only need 27,000lbs. of photopolymer. The I-plate technology also eliminates solvent and toxic VOC's (volatile organic compounds). I-plates are washed out with soap and water, so the 2,400 gallons of still oil, and 11,400lbs of solvent consumed running the same amount is no longer a factor. A "GREEN" RENOVATION Before the 52in. by 110in. expansion was even complete, plans were being made to incorporate more sustainable I-plates reduce photopolymer usage, as well as solvent consumption and VOC emissions. All art courtesy United Engravers Inc. The renovated sales floor also includes LED (light-emitting diode) lighting. www.flexomag.com FALL 2009 Sustainable FLEXO 7