While EB offset printing is not a new technology - it has long been used in web offset printing, for example - problems tended to occur regarding adhesion to various substrates, including PET, BOPP and PA, making it unsuitable for use with flexible packaging.
Japan’s Toray Industries has now announced that, for the first time, it has successfully overcome these issues with the help of its waterless electron beam (EB) offset printing technology. Spain’s SP Group, a European manufacturer of flexible retail food packaging, has completed a series of tests to print retort pouches with this technology.
The benefits of the technology, said the company are legion: waterless offset printing does not require dampening water, so VOC emissions are 60% to 80% lower than with wet processes. The special ink and EB curing-based process eliminate the need for solvents. The liquids used to clean the printing units are free of organic solvents, for zero VOC consumption in cleaning processes. This ensures resource conservation and optimal compliance with health and anti-pollution standards.
Another advantage is the excellent print quality, with sharper, higher resolution images in addition to full compliance with food contact materials regulations.
SP Group tested the technology on a COMEXI CI8 offset press using water-washable EB ink from Toray, explained Francisco Bernal, CEO of SP Group: “Using such innovative technologies as waterless EB offset, VOC-free printing has matched our core corporate principles of sustainability while maximising quality.”
The success of the test is a new milestone in Toray’s development of waterless printing technology, which started in the early 1970s. The company started work on its solvent-free technology in 2015, and will continue work towards achieving 100% VOC-free in all printing processes in the future.