WEB OFFSET REPORT -- Make Ready for Change
The GATF consultant says the industry potentially could see significant ink-related developments on several other fronts.
"We need an ink that comes up to color faster, which is being worked on by a number of ink companies," Prince reveals. "Another technology in development that could have a very profound impact—if it pans out—is 'just-water' printing technology. The idea is to use ordinary tap water as the fountain solution, which allows you to reduce your dryer temperature by 100°F in the middle chamber."
Dropping the temperature by that degree would significantly reduce the cost to dry a sheet, Prince says. However, he cautions, it's still too early to gauge the viability of the technology and its impact on other production issues.
"The problems with any new technology don't often come up right away. We need to look at print quality and characteristics, like rub and scuff resistance. Also, we don't know what impact there would be on air pollution equipment or VOC emissions. A grant has been promised to GATF to underwrite further testing, but we're waiting to receive the money before beginning. The industry could see very rapid adoption of the process, if it is proved effective and practical," Prince says.
The process is enabled by use of a special ink vehicle, which a number of ink manufacturers have licensed, according to the print expert. Sheetfed ink formulations already have been released, and the findings in that segment are "all good," he adds.
A very different approach to tackling the same issue—energy demands in drying—has been suggested in the past. In this case, electrostatic energy is employed to create turbulence in the "laminar" boundary layer that forms above the substrate as it is being dried. Since the technology (known as E-field supported drying) has found some interest in the gravure world, Eltex Elektrostatik GmbH in Weil am Rhein, Germany, undertook proof of concept testing with a manufacturer of heatset web drying equipment.