Inks and Chemicals — Environmental Challenges

A glimpse at the areas pinpointed for VOC reduction:

* Ink. Sheetfed and non-heatset inks are not a significant source of VOCs, according to Jones. Most heatset web printers already have control devices, and some don’t use controls because their emissions are below the VOC thresholds. “We don’t know where the EPA is going to set that threshold on a national level…I would expect to see some pressure on the heatset printers who aren’t controlled to put some controls on.”

* Fountain solution. Those printers not using alcohol substitutes will have to dramatically reduce the amount of alcohol they’re using in fountain solutions, Jones notes.

Alternatives are being tested, according to Jones, including Kustom Corp.’s Just Water Technology (JWT) that eliminates fountain solution concentrate and solution additives, and uses tap water as opposed to gum and acid. As a result, there are claims that heatset printers can reduce energy consumption by reducing dryer temperatures, while still maintaining print quality.

He notes the GATF has received a grant from its home state of Pennsylvania to test the system on its new MAN Roland web press. “That would be huge if it was successful,” he says. “A win-win all the way around.”

Another alternative is Midwest Ink’s Hydro H2O inks, which garnered a 2002 GATF InterTech Technology Award for the chemistry that features tap water as opposed to fountain solution acids and glycols. According to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) results from a March 2002 press run, “color density was achieved equal to, if not faster than, conventional inks. Excellent dot reproduction and trapping was observed.”

* Cleaning solvents. This could be a serious point of contention in various parts of the country. The GATF is in the midst of an evaluation in Southern California, where the South Coast Air Quality Management District wants to see printers use cleaning solvents with a VOC content of 10 percent or less by weight by the year 2005. The GATF is pushing for low vapor pressure as an alternative, according to Jones.

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