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The Environmental Aspects of UV Screen Inks: Past, Present, and Future

(December 2007) posted on Thu Jan 03, 2008

If developing a sustainable graphics-printing process is a goal for your business, consider how the latest generation of UV-curable screen inks can help. This discussion looks at the history of UV inks, recent ink-formulation developments, and ways you can increase productivity while helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

By Laura Maybaum

With that said, there are many screen-printing operations that actively recycle paper, cardboard, and corrugated plastic that have been trimmed from printed materials; some of this waste contains ink. The degree of recycling that can be done and the prints that can be recycled will be determined by the capabilities of local recycling facilities.


A healthy future for UV screen printing

As an early adopter of UV inks, the screenprinting industry has already made great strides in being both environmentally aware and worker-safety conscious, as well as economically efficient. In summary, the UV inks currently available for screen shops provide the following characteristics:

• are 100% solids and non-toxic once cured

• emit almost no VOCs

• use less energy compared to solvent - based inks to cure

• are optimized to cure at low UV output, significantly reducing energy use and decreasing the number of mercury vapor bulbs needed

• are optimized to print on faster printing presses and to reduce ink deposit and increase ink mileage

• provide stable printing to allow screen shops to reach suitable color reproduction faster and more consistently

• provide a reduction in inventory, waste ink, and waste printed materials due to mistakes, while leading to more predict able and efficient printing with multi-purpose inks

• have been successfully recycled in some locations when certain substrates are used


Moving towards an even more environmentally friendly UV ink remains a high priority among ink manufacturers for all printing industries, but not at the cost of creating detrimental effects on the print-production process. Ink is a small part of the overall, finished print. More is gained by using substrate alternatives that are recyclable, reusable, renewable, or quickly biodegradable. The biggest environmental benefit will be getting a safer, more efficient process that uses less energy.



Energy Savings & CO2 Emissions Reduction with Faster Curing UV Screen Inks

The following is an example comparison of energy required to power one or two 60-in. mercury-vapor lamps where the cost per kilowatt hour is $0.064. Cost varies depending on the location of a printing plant, but the same percent in savings should apply.


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