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FLEXO Magazine : July 2008
TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES ø z - ø c CJ :: III ..... III - >< III ..... II. The Future of EB in Flexographic Printing P rinters in the flexographic indus- try face a maddening paradox: While the costs of maintaining their printing operations continues to skyrocket as the prices for natural gas and petroleum-based supplies climb ever higher, customer expectations for ultra high quality printing continue to rise as well. Demand for environmentally friendly printing processes seem to con- flict with the equally prevalent needs for superior print quality on all manner of substrates-and the conflict deepens as printers struggle to contain costs. WET-ON-WET PRINTING PROCESS The flexo industry is more than ready for solutions that combine the highest quality print fidelity and color reproduc- tion with durability, cost effectiveness and a significant reduction in energy usage - J U L Y 2008 FLEXO By Michelle Hearn and volatile organic compound (VOC) production. Tackling the challenges of meeting the stringent requirements set by emissions reduction standards around the world, a wet-on-wet printing process was developed that utilizes an electron beam (EB) cured ink system manufactured without VOCs and contains low odor, high performing inks. At the same time, this technology advances the print fidelity of the flexo process to a level some have equated to gravure, by making wet trap- ping possible. Developed specifically for the flexo- graphic printing process, this wet-on-wet printing technique makes it possible for these EB-cured inks to wet trap over each other during the production of multi- color jobs. This wet-on-wet trapping not only improves image quality, but it also has a significant impact on print fidelity. www.flexography.org Because of their chemistry, these EB- cured inks improve print density and con- trast, and are highly resistant to dot gain, so vignettes are exceptionally sharp. The EB-cured ink system used in the wet-on-wet printing process is based on both water-based and energy curable chemistry-having the benefits of water- based with the universality, printability, and press speed capabilities of solvent- based inks without the concerns associat- ed with solvent-based inks for monitoring ofVOCs, viscosity, solvent losses and dot fidelity gains, all while capitalizing on the advantages of electron-beam curing. No solvent recovery system or costly, polluting incineration process is required in the use of the EB-cured inks. They cure using an electron beam at the end of the press instead of individual dryers at each station, eliminating the need for natural
Flexo Sustainable Fall 2008