The flexible package printing market has seen growing interest from package printers and converters in VOC- and CO2-reducing technology, due to increased environmental and safety concerns and regulatory requirements. Demand is particularly strong in the North American and European markets, where flexo inks based on solvent materials are mainstream technologies. Since the drupa exhibition last May, industry demand for both water-based flexo and EB-curable flexo has been gaining momentum in these regions.
“Many of the EB flexo inks out on the market today contain small traces of solvent that is chemically added into the ink during the curing process,” says Katsumi Yamazaki, president and CEO of Toyo Ink. “The Elex-one series was specially formulated by Toyo Ink engineers to cure using only EB irradiation — without the addition of a volatile component. As a result of this, we are able to offer a completely VOC-free solution that still provides the high print quality and performance results that are our customers require.”
EB flexo inks do not evaporate or volatilize on the printing press, so the ink does not change in consistency during processing. Since ink curing does not occur on the plate, stable print quality can be achieved even over long runs. In addition, EB inks are highly safe from chemical migration in that its composition is free of solvents or photoinitiators, making it a non-hazardous material suitable for use in food packaging materials and sanitary products.
Elex-one is currently undergoing trial testing for the European market. Once approved, Toyo Ink plans to begin the commercial release of the product in the region. Subsequent launches into new markets are expected once the company establishes a foothold in Europe.