Flexographic Printing and Sustainable Inks
Flexography is quickly gaining popularity as a printing process used by many companies and manufacturers. Flexo printing focuses on narrow web and wide web printing for manufacturers who generate mid to high-volume printing jobs. Flexo printing is proven to be more cost-effective than other printing processes, such as digital printing.
What are Sustainable Inks?
Flexo printing is the most commonly used method for printing labels and calls for the correct type of flexo ink for this process. The right type of ink is vital to attaining process efficiency and superb quality. Using the right kind of flexo ink is a key factor in the label market, and inks are continuously being evaluated for supreme runnability on different substrates for the highest end-use performance.
Types of Sustainable Inks for Flexo Printing
While no flexo ink is 100% sustainable, there is a group of printing inks offered with ecological benefits. Right now, the four most notable sustainable flexo inks used for packaging are:
- UV inks
- Water-based inks
- Soy/Vegetable inks
- Algae inks
Water Based Inks
If your goal is to use sustainable inks, avoid inks that are oil or solvent-based or inks with petroleum. Water-based inks contain simple ingredients and have fewer amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Prints still look vibrant and high quality with water-based inks, plus they are easy to clean and easy to store. Water-based inks are popular for certain absorbent substrates, such as corrugated paperboard.
Soy/vegetable inks are formulated to have a reduction in the release of VOCs during printing. These inks are usually developed from organic compounds such as soybeans or corn oil and break down faster than other conventional inks.
Soy/vegetable inks produce quality, vibrance, and colorful results while being environmentally friendly and cost-effective. While these inks are not as popular as some other sustainable inks, they are an eco-friendly alternative and can help you minimize your carbon footprint on the planet.
UV inks are considered curable inks and are dried using an electronic beam or ultraviolet light. UV inks release over 99% fewer VOCs and dry almost instantly. An additional benefit of using UV inks is there is no need for additional protectants or coatings.
Algae inks are considered extremely eco-friendly and can reduce carbon emissions by up to 200%. These inks have a negative carbon footprint, which is very appealing to some companies. Algae inks are not only sustainable, but they are biodegradable and renewable as well.
Algae ink is resistant to UV light, is VOC-free, and its ink is renewable. Furthermore, this type of ink can be easily and safely discarded down the drain.
Why Use Sustainable Inks?
Historically, solvent-based inks dominated the package printing industry and required solvent incinerators or recovery systems. Recently, there has been a strong wave of political and social pressure to come up with more eco-friendly alternatives for printing processes. These alternatives must be carried out and utilized on a global scale to achieve environmental goals.
Versa Web P500: Integrated Labeling System
The Versa Web P500 from Tamarack® Products is an inline integrated labeling machine that is fully customizable and modular and can be installed directly on your current Flexo press. The Versa Web P500 can be used for inline transfer of tape or adhesive or the application of patches to direct mail products and forms. The forms can be automated to turn over and die-cut to generate integrated or integral labels and forms. The P500 can also be upgraded to include RFID insertion equipment.
Tamarack® Products brings more than 50 years of experience in designing and manufacturing high-tech, fast, and accurate web finishing equipment. Our skilled team of technicians can fully customize our in-line or off-line equipment to meet your company’s specific needs. Contact us to learn more about how we can maximize your workplace productivity and efficiency with our innovative web-finishing equipment.