Until recently, the flexo printing industry relied mainly on solvent-based inks, but today the use of water-based ones is on the rise.
The main reasons for this change are the increased safety and sustainability, as well as the reduction of costs associated with VOC control and the fact that in many areas of the world the use of solvent-based inks has been banned or discouraged.
Water-based inks: a safe and eco-sustainable solution
One of the advantages of water-based inks is that they contain little or no Volatile Organic Compounds, as most water-based formulations showed less than one-fourth of the VOC emissions of the solvent-based inks. Thanks to this, there is no need to install and maintain expensive systems like a Regenerative Thermal Oxidiser to converts these toxic emissions into harmless inert byproducts like carbon dioxide, water vapor, and usable heat.
Aside from these significant cost savings, using water-based inks allows manufacturers to operate in areas of the world in which solvent-based inks are banned or discouraged, making it possible to continue or establish new flexo printing operations in these regions.
Additionally, water-based inks eliminate the fire hazard associated with solvent-based inks due to their low volatility, they are far less toxic for workers and they do not emit odors, as they contain water-soluble polar solvents whose molecules degrade during combustion in such a way as not to generate strong-smelling emissions.
Challenges with water-based inks
After having listed some of the many advantages of water-based inks, why so many manufacturers continue to use solvent-based inks? One of the reasons used to be the higher quality of the resulting printed images, but water-based inks, with today’s technology, have bridged the gap. Other reasons may be the much faster drying time with solvent-based inks or the greater energy required to allow the evaporation of water. All this actually led to a significantly slower production process when using water-based inks.
However, drying time is no longer an issue. Whatever type of ink you want to use, A.Celli IRIDIUM® solutions have been designed and manufactured to grant exceptional results. Thanks to our high-efficiency dryers, for example, you will be able to print at high speeds with water-based inks and to reduce retention with solvent-based inks, allowing you to achieve superior quality printing without sacrificing productivity.