Water-based inks greatly reduce VOC emissions as they most often contain a maximum of 30% solvents in the formula. Not only does this reduction protect against pollution, it also makes for a safer and healthier working environment for operators, remarks Jonathan Giubilato, Bobst’s gravure product line manager.
However, until now, the use of water-based ink systems has been very limited in the gravure market because of the longer drying times, lower press speeds and poor performance on substrates. But as regulations regarding VOC emissions, especially in Asia, are restricting the types of inks that flexible packaging producers can use, value chain partners are pushing to develop inks without solvents and printing presses that can handle water-based inks efficiently.
Jonathan reveals that Bobst is developing successful water-based applications on its gravure presses, utilising Siegwerk’s new formulation water-based inks. ‘This partnership aims to present water-based ink formulas that will set unprecedented performance and quality levels in gravure printing, and which have much lower VOC content than current market offerings,’ he states.
Initially the geographical scope for this project is China, where gravure is a mature and dominant technology, and where the government has introduced particularly stringent regulations. As of July 2020, a trial implementation regarding commodity packaging printing for government purchase in China recommends that the content of VOCs in the ink used not exceed 5% by weight, and no more than six colours should be printed on each package. ‘It’s time to rethink packaging and let water-based inks flourish in a circular packaging system. This is essential for the future of the ink industry,’ asserts Jimmy Goh, head of technical flexible packaging in China.
‘The main objective of the partnership with Siegwerk is to increase the sustainability of gravure printing and enable flexible packaging converters to comply with new regulations,’ Jonathan adds. ‘Sustainability is a core pillar of Bobst’s vision of the future of packaging printing, and it’s essential that companies in leading positions work together to establish a benchmark for new environmentally-friendly technologies.’
Additionally, he notes that Bobst’s quest to meet and exceed demands for more sustainable press solutions was instrumental in earning Bobst Changzhou a certification as a demonstration and training base for alternative applications to VOCs from the Printing and Printing Equipment Industries Association of China.
‘Combining Bobst’s extensive gravure printing press technology experience with Siegwerk’s strong printing inks know-how means that we can deliver a viable and much more competitive water-based ink solution,’ Jonathan concludes.
Ed’s note: Bobst’s local market representative is Beswick Machinery.