Emergence Of Environmentally Friendly Printing Inks

Companies and associations are putting more effort into ‘greening’ their printing inks. There has been a gradual shift towards sustainable living. Eco-friendly packaging has led to an increase in demand for eco-friendly printing inks. For instance, in 2016, Flint Group introduced its new water-based ink series Premo®Film SXS. It is an eco-friendly ink which can be used for printing on eco-friendly and sustainable packaging. The ink series is based on a unique self-cross-linking technology that enables the ink film to have very good adhesion to non-absorbent substrates such as oPP and PE. In November 2016, the company’s K+E® Arrowstar™, Starbase™ and Arroweb™ printing ink series earned bio-renewable content (BRC) certification. Similarly, in May 2016, Siegwerk launched its water based UniXYL ink range for sustainable paper and board applications, incorporating renewable and forestry-based components. The ink is partially based on natural resins and provides an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional inks.

The global printing inks market is expected to grow from $33.7 billion in 2018 to $38.1 billion in 2022 at an annual growth rate of around 3%.

Many companies in the printing inks market are shifting from manufacturing petroleum-based printing inks to manufacturing environmentally friendly printing inks (green printing inks). Unlike petroleum-based printing inks, green printing inks do not contain heavy metals or other dangerous and toxic substances, therefore they do not cause excessive pollution in the landfill. Green printing inks are based on sustainable materials like soy and other plant-based origins, which are more sustainable than petroleum. Examples of green printing inks include water-based and oil-based printing inks. The use of green printing inks results in a reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOC) released during the printing process. Major players in the printing inks market such as DIC Corporation, Flint Group, Sakata Inx and others are providing green printing inks as part of their offerings.

UV-curable inks, which is another environmentally-friendly option, is gaining rapid traction. Use of UV-curable inks by UV gel technology-based printers provide high image quality, productivity, and low operating costs. UV-curable inks are a better alternative than traditional inks as they instantly gel on contact with the surface, resulting in precise dot placement and area control for consistent high-quality images at high speed. They enable ultra-thin ink dispersion with almost no discernible physical profile and the lowest ink consumption rate. In September 2016, Canon, a digital solution provider based in the USA, launched its new UV curable ink with a promise to provide up to a 40% reduction in printing costs compared to eco-solvent and latex inks.

The manufacturing of printing inks produces unwanted by-products and also results in high carbon emissions. With increasing pollution levels globally, governments are enforcing companies to adopt ecofriendly production technologies to comply with pollution standards. Companies are increasingly replacing harmful raw materials with renewable resources and recycled materials, such as alternative natural oils, rosin, cellulose derivatives, and ethanol and ethyl acetate produced from bio-sources.

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