Meeting The Demands Of Quality And The Environment
As environmental concerns force paper and press chemistry content to change, ink content is also being altered to stay compatible with the other elements.
Propelled by the dual forces of quality and the environment, ink makers and their suppliers have been under the gun to develop the technology. The changes they introduce, however, take their toll on the products used by the printer. Sometimes this has been good, resulting in superior products. Other times, the environmental changes have resulted in major concerns and problems.
Speaking to Tom Cernera, branch manger of the Metropolitan New York region of Gans Ink & Supply Co., one senses both excitement and trepidation as he talked about the challenges faced by printers and ink makers.
"Never before has it been more critical for printer and supplier to work together," he says. "Making a marriage between ink and substrate has become highly sensitive to the chemistry of both and a victim to changes in the basic process."
Conditions that were routine in years gone by, when all ink had to do was put an image on paper, are no longer so. Paper making has had to meet the demands of the environmental agencies, putting a few new barriers in the way of the ink:
• Titanium Dioxide is now used as a filler for some grades of paper.
• Chlorine free paper produces a new pH level.
• Recycled paper introduces both known and unknown chemistry into the texture of the fibers.
• Hydrogen Peroxide is now being used as a brightener.
Changes in plate chemistry, stemming from direct-to-plate systems, have altered the traditional relationship between plate and fountain solution. This has ramifications in the formulation of the ink.
Add these changes to the movement away from Isopropanol as a major component of fountain solution, and we have critical questions relative to the pH of the various materials and how they come together to make the ink adhere to the paper substrate. Trying to run other substrates adds to the problems.