Flexo printers frequently wake up in a cold sweat from inky nightmares. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but ink-related issues can keep flexo printers awake at night. Planning volatile organic compound capture, testing viscosity, and wettability are all common issues in the press room when it comes to sustainable inks for packaging. We’ll get to that later, but first, let’s look at the fundamentals of sustainable printing inks.
4 Eco-Friendly Inks for Printing on Eco-Friendly Packaging
While there is no 100% sustainable flexo ink, there is a hierarchy of printing inks, with some being more environmentally friendly than others. At the moment, the four most popular sustainable flexo inks for packaging are:
- Water-based inks
- Soy/vegetable inks
- UV inks
- Algae inks
If you’re serious about using environmentally friendly flexo inks, you should avoid anything solvent or oil-based, as well as inks made with petroleum. Furthermore, prints with these inks still look great, so you’re not sacrificing quality for sustainability. And also they are:
- Easy to clean
- Simple to store
- Suitable for elastomer image carriers
Vegetable-based inks are typically made from an organic compound, such as corn oil or soybeans, and are designed to print in a way that significantly reduces VOC emissions. Though these inks aren’t as widely used as many of the others on this list, they remain a viable sustainable option for printers looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
Now is a good time to discuss the differences between different types of inks. Inks are divided into two types: volatile inks and curable inks. UV inks, or inks that dry with ultraviolet light. Furthermore, unlike conventional volatile inks, curable inks do not require additional coatings or protectants.
Algae inks will round out this list of alternatives to petroleum-based printing inks. However, because this technology is still relatively new, there is reason to believe that we are only now beginning to realize its full potential.
Other Ideas for Sustainable Packaging: Ink Equipment Edition
The majority of the discussion surrounding sustainable flexo printing revolves around materials. Elastomer sleeves are made of a long-lasting rubber polymer that outlasts other conventional image carrier materials. Furthermore, elastomer sleeves are easily cleaned without the use of harsh chemicals.
Getting to Your Long-Term Flexo Goals
Whether you want to switch to 100% sustainable inks or upgrade your image carriers and other equipment, working with a flexo print provider can help you achieve your objectives. Furthermore, a flexo expert can assist you in developing a sustainable printing strategy that includes inks, substrates, and image carriers!
Read next about what is varnish coating in flexo printing
For some best quality inks check out Teknova Water based inks
Image source: iStock