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FLEXO Magazine : June 2013
Plants & Processes Ink Requirements: “Can Your Ink Save Civilization?” High slide, no rub, Infinite resolubility, High lightfastness, low cost... rational? By James Ford There are many powerful documents in existence that attest to turning points in world history and improve- ments in civilization. Although the ideas originate from the authors of these documents, those messages come to the modern reader through the ink applied years ago. That is a powerful thing to consider. But, not every print is destined to become the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Even so, every printer and print buyer expects the inks and coatings to per- form according to certain specifications, some rational and some, well, not so rational. Ink suppliers often have to formulate inks to meet one or more exacting specifications, but each has come across the occasional customer with unrealistic expectations; maybe not quite so far as to expect the redemption of civilization. However, having ink with high slide, no rub, infinite resolubil- ity, high lightfastness, FDA acceptability, and with a cost well under a dollar would come pretty close. So, how would one approach the subject of ink specifica- tions and what might be some of the requirements that inks and coatings are expected to fulfill? To begin with, let’s classify the ink specifications. Flexo- graphic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances (FIRST) 4.0 , section 24.3 does an admirable job of highlighting some of the most common demands that an ink is expected PROPERTIES & PERFORMANCE • The first differentiation in ink specifications is between the usage properties versus the performance properties on the substrate • Usage properties are those that are needed by the printer in order to transfer the ink appropriately to the substrate • A logical differentiation in the usage property specifications might be between bulk property considerations, economic considerations, and regulatory considerations. • Performance properties are those requirements needed for the dried or cured ink to meet the desired end-use application • Bulk properties would be those that the ink physically would need to have in order for the printer to be able to use it with its equipment and substrate • Regulatory properties would include those that the ink would need to fulfill in order for the printer to legally use it for the intended application • Economic considerations involve aspects such as pricing, mileage, inventory, and transfer concerns 96 FLEXO June 2013 www.flexography.org