If you’re one of the country’s 480 gravure printers, you know that anything that can be done to prevent solvent losses from gravure ink printing during press operations is a good thing. Particularly if you’re a product or packaging gravure printer—running a smaller operation with fewer employees—every dollar counts.
Knowing this, there’s some good news; according to statistics discovered in a joint study between the Gravure Association of America (GAA) and the EPA, Western Michigan University (WMU), and the University of Tennessee (UT), there are ways that controlling ink temperature can directly reduce your solvent losses while improving your print quality. As a bonus, there are environmental benefits as well.
The original tests were conducted at WMU’s Printing Pilot Plants, and involved commonly used nitrocellulose inks run on 4-color gravure pressures for 3-hour production runs. Testing the inks at three different temperatures—while simultaneously testing viscosity and print quality—they discovered that solvent and ink consumption rose as the temperatures did, and as the temperatures increased, the print quality decreased.
While a number of factors were examined throughout the process, the overall results showed that product and packaging gravure printers can improve their quality while reducing solvent loss by controlling ink temperatures. The optimal temperature, they found, was when ink was kept at room temperature.
Additionally, the study found that controlling the temperature and thereby reducing solvent loss would decrease emissions from the ink sump and ink pan. As a result, air pollutants would decrease significantly, providing great environmental and health benefits. Solvent and ink costs go down, hazardous pollutants go down, and profits go up.
While every printing plant is different, and there were various scenarios involved in the study that must be taken into account, it seems well worth it to investigate the possibility of implementing temperature controls and seeing if your business can benefit from these methods.