Ink logistics specialist GSE has joined the Prethink Ink network, a group of printing industry suppliers promoting the adoption of water-based inks. The company will provide expertise to help reduce the environmental impact of flexible packaging.
According to the company, currently, solvent-based inks are the standard choice for flexible packaging products such as pouches, sachets and wrapping. However, eco-friendlier, safer water-based flexo and gravure inks now offer comparable performance and competitive costs while reducing the carbon footprint of flexible packaging. Water-based inks emit lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making them safer to work with and enabling easier regulatory compliance.
Established by Basf, the Prethink Ink network is dedicated to raising awareness about the capabilities of water-based technology and providing guidance on best practices. The network includes companies from across the packaging value chain, including machine and tooling manufacturers, raw materials providers, ink makers, packaging converters and brand owners including Actega, Comexi Group, Druckfarben, Follmann, Grupo Consist, NNZ, Quimovil, Saueressig, Silbo and Uteco Group.
‘GSE’s company mission is to reduce the environmental impact of ink and ink-related resources in the graphics industry,’ commented Anne Lourens, managing director of GSE. ‘This fits perfectly with Prethink Ink’s initiative to encourage the use of water-based inks, so we are delighted to join the network.
‘Managing water-based inks is less complex and less costly than is the case for solvent inks. Packaging printers working with solvent-based inks must incur extra expense complying with stricter safety regulations to minimize the risk of explosion and fire. Their dispensing systems must come with explosion-proof features, such as an overpressure system for controls and grounding devices for machine components, plus, for EU customers, 114-ATEX approval.
‘However, facilities built for water-based ink don’t need to install explosion-proofing or grounding against electrostatic discharge – driving down expenditure for those who make the switch.’
GSE enables packaging and label converters to eliminate ink-related waste at all stages of the workflow. Modular ink dispensing systems automate the preparation of special brand spot colors with repeatable accuracy, in exact volumes required. This allows reduced ink costs, using base colors without expensive ready-mixed inks, and simpler logistics. Dispensers can be extended with extra base-color barrels to manage two ink series simultaneously if desired.
Software packages are available for streamlining ink-related processes such as re-using inks returned from the press, automating replenishment of base inks, traceability of ink batches in the supply chain, generating stock and costing reports, creating new color recipes and correcting existing recipes.
‘First of all, ask yourself, what is the current state of your ink management and what should be the future state? To reduce costs and increase profitability, it is key to reduce wastes in your future workflows. Selecting the right hardware and ink management software is therefore paramount,’ concluded Lourens.