EducationQ&A

What types of inks are better for the environment?

Just because an ink type sounds more environmentally friendly doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Go with inks that are made up of 100 percent solids or have a very high percentage of solids. Inks that are 100 percent solids provide nearly a 100 percent yield, resulting in no or little waste. They can often be recycled or reused. For example, 100-percent-solids plastisol inks do not dry on the screen. The left-over ink on the screen can be re-used at a later date as long as it was not exposed to excessive heat.  Water-based inks often contain fewer solids and may dry on the screen, thus yielding less and creating waste. Due to the additional time it takes to cure water-based inks, more energy is used as well.

Inks that are touted or labeled as eco-friendly, low VOC, etc. aren’t necessarily “better” or more “green.” Most contain plastic binders and solvents that are not as “human-friendly” as they are believed to be. In the case of water-based inks, for example, the binder is usually an acrylic or a urethane that is suspended in water and other co-solvents. These solvents often contain formaldehyde and alcohols and are evaporated into the air during the curing process.

—International Coatings Company

Mark Brouillard

Mark Brouillard is a product manager for International Coatings Co. Inc. For more information on International Coatings and its products, visit iccink.com and read the company's blog at internationalcoatingsblog.com.

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