Home » Switching to water-based inks pays dividends

Switching to water-based inks pays dividends

Following last month’s review of the key properties of Hi-Tech Inks’ Aquasharp water-based inks, we now quiz somebody at the rock-face, a printer who has made the switch from solvent-based to water-based inks. 

It’s evident from a visit to the Tuffy Bags website that environmental matters figure greatly in the corporate ethos of this CapeTown-based company. For instance, Tuffy was a front-runner in the practice of using 100% recycled content in the production of refuse bags – in fact, becoming South Africa’s first organisation to receive global SGS accreditation for including fully-recycled content in refuse bags.

It’s not surprising, therefore, to learn that this innovative company plays a leading role in sustainability matters throughout the value chain – not only in terms of using recycled materials in its products but also taking steps to reduce emissions from its printing operations.    

‘We try to do the right thing all the way from raw material supply to manufacturing processes,’ explains marketing director, Rory Murray.    

One way in which Tuffy has firmly underlined this contention is by switching to water-based inks, as a sustainable alternative to solvent-based inks, when printing polyethylene refuse bags on its four-colour Lung Meng flexographic press.    

Asked what was behind this decision, Rory replies: ‘We feel that water-based inks are a more responsible alternative to solvent-based inks, and we’re also realising a number of significant benefits. First of all, we’re preventing air pollution by eliminating solvents. Additionally, there are no fire issues with water-based inks; materials handling is simplified; and we have a greatly improved working environment for our staff.’    

When it comes to print quality, he declares that the water-based inks are ‘fit for purpose’.    

‘We don’t require ultra-sharp print on a refuse bag, but the quality is good. Also bear in mind that we’re printing on recycled materials so the quality of print obviously reflects the substrate used.’    

But aside from these physical benefits, there’s an important financial consideration in a move to water-based inks. By making the switch a printer eliminates the need to invest in a expensive solvent recovery systems to meet impending legislation regarding VOC emissions. Rory confirms that this was another prime motivation in Tuffy’s decision to make the move to water-based inks.


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