Envionmental Printing - Useful Things to Know
Alcohol-free or low-alcohol printing
Lithographic printing that uses reduced amounts or no isopropyl alcohol (IPA), thereby reducingVOC emissions.
Dampening (or fountain) solution
This is used to keep the non-image areas of the plate moist, preventing them from accepting ink.Dampening solution usually contains high levels of a solvent called isopropyl alcohol (IPA) whichcontributes to VOC emissions. Some are available with a low IPA content or are IPA free.Waterless printing eliminates the need for dampening solution altogether.
Heavy metals are natural components of the Earth's crust. They cannot be degraded or destroyed. Tiny amounts are essential for human health, but at higher concentrations they canlead to poisoning.Heavy metals may enter the body in food, water, air, or by absorption through the skin.Heavy metals such as barium, copper and zinc are contained in certain ink pigments, particularlymetallics. Studies have linked the use of heavy metals in some inks to an increased risk of printers developing bladder cancer.
IPA (Isopropyl alcohol)
Isopropyl alcohol is commonly used as a cleaner and solvent in industry. Lithographic printerscombine it with water to create ‘dampening solution’ which repels the ink in non-image areas.IPA contributes to ground level ozone which can effect plant and crop growth and poses apotential health hazard to printers as it can lead to, amongst other things, asthma.Mineral oil based inks (also known as petroleum based inks)These are the most commonly used inks not least because of their quick drying time. Thepigment is suspended in petroleum with Isopropyl alcohol as the solvent (see above). As the inkdries, alcohol and petroleum evaporate, releasing VOCs.Added to this – petroleum is a non-renewable resource.
A solvent is a liquid substance capable of dissolving other substances. Solvents used in thelithographic print process include:
mineral oil which is used to reduce the viscosity of ink
Isopropyl alcohol (also referred to as IPA, see definition above) which is toxic to aquatic life
Toluene which is used in cleaning solutions and contributes to the formation of ozone
Methyl Ethyl Ketone which is used as a solvent for lacquers, adhesives and inks and is alsotoxic to aquatic life
Vegetable based ink