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Ecofriendly ink basics

May 1, 2010 12:00 AM


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Finding affordable ways to offer environmentally friendly services can seem cumbersome in the course of our regular business. It is important to realize that not every element of a business has to be ecofriendly to achieve a reputation for sustainability. Combining the use of ecofriendly inks with traditional inks will help reduce the carbon footprint, without calling for a major overhaul. Printers interested in incorporating sustainable practices in the pressroom have a number of good choices when it comes to ink. Here are some options:

  • Vegetable-based inks | Vegetable-based ink is made with vegetable oil, such as soybean or corn oil, as a substitute for petroleum or mineral oils. Vegetable-based inks significantly reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released into the air during printing.

    For example, soy ink is naturally low in VOCs and usage can reduce emissions that cause air pollution. Because the waste of soy ink is not considered hazardous, it can be treated more easily, completely and cost-effectively. Using soy inks is also helpful when it comes to paper recycling, as the deinking process is easier and results in less fiber damage to recycled paper. The soy ink waste that is produced from the deinking process is non-hazardous.

  • UV inks | UV ink is a two-part acrylic epoxy, where the first part is the ink itself with receptors that are activated by the second part: UV light. UV inks contain little or no solvents and therefore do not emit significant VOCs. Because they do not cure until exposed to ultraviolet light, UV inks can be left in the ink fountain overnight without skinning, which reduces cleaning time and wasted ink.

    Additional benefits of UV inks include their color value, the high-speed, high-quality printing possible with a UV process, the excellent resistance to rub-off and set-off and the fast curing process. UV inks can be run on high-speed production equipment and do not require large dryers.

  • Waterless inks | Waterless printing uses computer-to-plate technology and silicon plates to eliminate chemicals and water from the printing process completely. Waterless printing can help to reduce waste materials and ink consumption, making it yet another ecofriendly option.

    Moving forward in 2010, we will continue to see the importance of environmentally friendly choices and practices. The good news is that ink suppliers (and their customers) already have some great products to meet the current demands.


Joe Bendowski is president of Van Son Holland Ink Corp. of America (Islandia, NY). Contact him at joebendowski@vansonink.com or see www.vansonink.com.