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WHITE PAPER
MUTOH Belgium nv
www.mutoh.eu
Revision 1.1 - September 12
th
, 2011
Page 2 of 8
  
In this White Paper
The Printing Process and Going Green Page 2
Inks
Page 2
Media
Page 5
Greening Print Production Page 6
Key Attention Points when Evaluating Wide Format Printing Equipment Page 8
The Printing Process and Going Green
Judged by conventional pr
inting technologies such as offset, screen, flexo
and gravure, the printi
ng industry is the 4
th
most polluting industry in
Europe with respect to energy, chem
icals and waste. In addition, the
paper industry is the 4
th
largest industrial cons
umer of fossil fuels,
accounting for 40 % of landfill waste
and being one of the world’s largest
consumers and polluters of fresh water.
Digital printing can help printers become gr
eener. Both toner and inkjet technologies
facilitate print-on-demand, plus
a reduction in material use, inventory requirements, storage
space and costs (including heating, lighting and logistics). These criteria are based on
digitized pre-press operations
that eliminate the plate making
process with its associated
need for cleaning chemicals
and generation of waste.
Inkjet technology in particular only deposits th
e ink droplets on demand, and its capability to
jet very small scalable drop volumes reduces ink
consumption even further. It is generally a
clean technology, but whatever inkjet ink you
choose, the inks will have an impact on the
environment and/or the user. The drive here is
to minimize the amount needed to create
the required image and to formulate the inks to
minimize their enviro
nmental impact during
production and use.
Inks
Ink is an integral part in a printer's ‘environmental audit' :
from its production through printing to recycling, including
recycling of waste ink. The environmental impact of an inkjet
ink is not just in the chemistry
of the formulation. There is a
choice between inks produc
ed using mineral oils and
vegetable oils. The type of in
k influences the energy used
when printing and the steps need
ed to meet health and safety
requirements.
“Often performance is
the main factor and to
meet customer
requirements, a
printer may have
limited options.”
WHITE PAPER
MUTOH Belgium nv
www.mutoh.eu
Revision 1.1 - September 12
th
, 2011
Page 3 of 8
  
Biodegradability for inks, coatin
gs and plastics is complex, an
d there is little scientifically-
based life cycle analysis research in this ar
ea. The amount of ink present on most print
products, however, is normally so small that it
does not interfere with substrates that do
biodegrade.
The decision to choose a particul
ar inkjet system typically is
based on the printer’s need to
balance performance with cost and, now, envi
ronmental compliance. Often performance is
the main factor and to meet
customer requirements, a printe
r may have limited options.
Below we examine some of th
e current inkjet ink technolo
gies and their environmental
impact.
All inkjet inks are made up of
four classes of raw materials:
Colorants
Resins
Carriers
(water, solvents/co-solvents, monomers,
oligomers)
Additives
The
colorants
come in two main classes – dyes, which are soluble in the liquid carrier,
and pigments, which are solid particles di
spersed in the liquid carrier. From the
environmental impact point of
view, dyes are produced vi
a a chemical manufacturing
process, while pigments require large amounts
of energy to grind the original materials
to the correct particle size.
Resins
are polymers, and they bind the colorant
to the substrate and provide many of
the required end-use properties.
The
carrier
is a liquid, allowing the colorant and
resin to be printed onto the substrate
via the ink delivery system.
Additives
are highly refined specialty chemicals that are important in stabilizing the ink
and in modifying the physical properties of th
e ink to suit the inkjet
printing system and
optimize the substrate interaction.
Water Based Inks
The majority of water based inkjet printing has a low environmental impact; the inks have a
water content of up to 85%, with little or no
VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) emissions.
However, inks are modified to
meet the requirements of the
application. The choice of
colorants depends on the end use, and medi
a pre-treatment or post treatment may be
required. For example, with textile printing, the type of ink is dictated by the textile
substrate, and the colorants can be acid
, reactive, dispersed dyes or pigments.
“The environmental
impacts of dye based
textile inks mainly
come from the energy
required for pre-
treatment, fixation,
post treatment and
wash off procedures”
Although dye based textile inks provide flexible ink
formulations, have no milling requirements and operate at
lower temperatures than other inks, it is important to look at
the total print production process. The environmental
impacts of dye based textile inks mainly come from the
energy required for pre-treatm
ent, fixation, post treatment
and wash off procedures, with
associated water usage and
dye in the effluent.
WHITE PAPER
MUTOH Belgium nv
www.mutoh.eu
Revision 1.1 - September 12
th
, 2011
Page 4 of 8
  
Disperse dye inks are also available for dye sublimation textile printing. The fixation process
can be either direct-to-fabric
via heat fixation (direct disperse inks) or fixation via
sublimation (dye sublimation inks printed onto
transfer paper). With no pre treatment and
no wash off requirements, there are clear envi
ronmental advantages to the transfer method;
but there is an environmental impact from
paper that becomes waste after the image
transfer and the energy requirem
ents for fixation/sublimation.
Solvent Based Inks
Solvent inks are now split into different types —
full solvent, mild solvent, eco solvent
and bio inks
:
Full solvent inks are widely regarded as undesirable because
of the harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) they
contain. They have been extr
emely successful for the display
industry, but those solvents that bite into substrates for
adhesion also evaporate in
the surrounding atmosphere
during printing and drying.
“There are also
solvent inks on the
market that do not
require air
purification”
These VOCs can be HAPs (hazardous air polluta
nts) and/or TAPs (toxic air pollutants) and
can be subject to low PELs (personal exposu
re limits). Today, ink manufacturers are
selecting different solvents and take more ca
re to provide end users with the relevant
information in the related material safety data sheets (MSDS). While equipment is available
for ventilation and solvent vapour capture to bring solvent levels in the working environment
far below the accepted safety levels, there are
also solvent inks on th
e market that do not
require air purification.
More recently there have been developments
with bio (organic) inks that are made from
renewable sources, such as corn
, palm or soy beans. The solv
ents can be biodegradable and
have lower associated PELs.
Latex Inks
“Media choice is restricted
because of the heat, to
avoid effects such as
cockling or wrinkling”
The new generation Latex in
ks are pigmented and water-
based, containing at least 50 % water. They have low
VOCs but require special ventilation, de-humidification
and air conditioning. Since Latex inks contain at least 50
% water, printing on non-porous substrates can cause
coalescence and the printing speed needs to be low
enough for the water to evaporate.
Precise temperature control is critical as ink
spot size can vary wi
th temperature. The
printing and drying process on Latex printers
is very energy consuming because multiple
heating zones drive the evaporation process.
A first heating zone evaporates the water and
the second heating zone cures the Latex componen
t. In order for the latex ink to achieve its
full characteristics, it is imperative that first all water is evaporated. Only then the Latex
particles can coalesce to form
a continuous polymer layer, which bonds to the substrate
surface. Media choice is restri
cted because of the heat, to av
oid effects such as cockling or
wrinkling. Further ink developments are requ
ired to reduce energy consumption and these
will (as usual in inkjet busine
ss) lead to other compromises.
WHITE PAPER
MUTOH Belgium nv
www.mutoh.eu
Revision 1.1 - September 12
th
, 2011
Page 5 of 8
  
UV Curing Inks
UV-curable inks are seen as a gr
een alternative to solvent based
inks and have gained popularity in the wide format market. Their
advantages are substrate versati
lity (rigid and flexible) and the
instantaneous curing process.
These inks contain acrylate
monomers and oligomers, photo-initiators and pigment colorants.
“A fully covered UV
machine is the
preferred choice”
After application to the substrate, exposure to
UV light causes the photo-initiators to start
cross-linking, transforming the monomers into po
lymers. UV curing inks have no VOCs, but
they do exhibit low PELs, as uncured ink may
cause skin irritations. The most important
issue with UV curing is to ensure that the UV
ink has been fully cured. Importantly, the
design of the printer should av
oid the risk of operators being
over-exposed to UV and take
care of uncured ink fly. In this respect, a
fully covered UV machine
is the preferred choice.
Media
The environmental mantra is ‘Reduce, Re-use, Re
cycle’, in that order, representing a product
responsibility paradigm shift from cradle-to-grave to cradle-to-cradle. Recycling is a market-
based activity. It requires technology to re
cycle at reasonable cost, market demand for
recycled products and a suffici
ent volume of material in the waste stream to support the
enterprise. If these criteria are not ma
tched, the waste will remain as waste.
Paper
is still the most popular medium for most
printing jobs, even with a wide-format
digital inkjet printer. Paper recovery and recycling is well established. The efficiency and
technology is improving all the time, for exam
ple with processes to
de-ink paper during
recycling. For paper and car
dboard, certification for sustainable forestry management has
been available for a long time. The aim of
the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) set up in
1993 is to preserve the forests and their function
as living environments
offering sustainable
resources and as a buffer
against climate change.
PVC
is a popular substrate for wi
de format printing. It has
been the bad boy of plastics in the past, but the PVC
industry seems committed to
developing a sustainable
future and is working to increa
se recovery and recycling of
“PVC can be safely
incinerated and the heat
generated can be used to
generate energy”
PVC as well as working towards being a carbon neutral
industry. PVC can be safely
incinerated and the heat genera
ted can be used to generate
energy.
Other plastics
can be either classified as
fossil fuel plastics
, when derived from petroleum,
or as
bio plastics
, when derived from renewable resour
ces such as vegetable oil or corn
starch. Some bio plastics are designed to biod
egrade, but others are not. Degradation as
such, however, is also not a straightforward ma
tter. A clear distinction needs to be made
between
bio-degradation
and
photo-degradation
.
WHITE PAPER
MUTOH Belgium nv
www.mutoh.eu
Revision 1.1 - September 12
th
, 2011
Page 6 of 8
  
Bio-degradation means that a substance can
be degraded by microbes under suitable
circumstances. In practice, this means under th
e tightly controlled conditions of industrial
composting installations. Usually, it does not mean that efficient composting is applicable to
home composting. Photo-degradation means that degradation is not initiated by microbial
action, but rather by ultra-violet sunlight and oxygen.
Although both types of degradation can be a
pplauded from an enviro
nmental point of view,
there is criticism within the industry that so-called photo-degradable materials do not meet
the internationally agreed composting standard
, EN13432. This standard has been published
by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and is recognized in many
areas/countries: Europe, Japan and the US. The
reason for the criticism is related to the
fact that photo-degradation in some cases may
be a very slow process, by far not efficient
enough to be considered as a method to dispose of rest materials.
Many such synthetic plastics ar
e great for outdoor promotions, for example of 30 to 60 days,
but are not always recyclable. Some may linger way beyond their usage period and unless
actively recycled will become waste.
Fabrics
are generally eco-friendly. Some fabri
cs, like paper, are manufactured from plant-
based materials such as cotto
n. Other popular fabrics
are synthetic polyester and
polyamide. In the sign
age industry fabrics are often pref
erred for their portability, being
lightweight and folding easily. The environmental impact of fabric media stems mainly from
the print production processes such as pre-treatment, fixation and wash-off.
Greening Print Production
Print buyers and print consumers are increasingly aware of
printing’s environmental impact. These customers want
wide format inkjet printers to do more than simply print on
recyclable/recycled materials.
They are looking for printers
to operate in a more efficien
t and sustainable manner, from
start to finish. Making the right equipment
and workflow decisions
has thus become even
more important. Printers are looking for ways
to compress the entire production cycle, use
less material and produce less waste while ensuring profitability, quick turnaround and high
quality.
The following key goals can help in going greener.
Reduce energy use. Building energy consumption is around half to one third of that
used for production. Readily available savi
ngs often include lowering heating levels,
not lighting areas not in use, excluding draughts and heat loss and computerizing
control of heating, ventilation, air condit
ioning and other support systems. New
lighting technologies can reduce the en
ergy needed by 50%. Include energy
consumption when selecting new equipment.
Assess sustainability
when selecting inks and coatin
gs. Newest ink sets show
significant improvements from the reduction of VOC emissions, while UV curable inks
have a good environmental profile from
the absence of VOC and the low energy
needed to cure them. Ink manufacturers ar
e increasingly using renewable resources.
Together with printing equipment suppliers th
ey are also assisting printers to recover
and recycle inks and solvents.
WHITE PAPER
MUTOH Belgium nv
www.mutoh.eu
Revision 1.1 - September 12
th
, 2011
Page 7 of 8
  
Reduce the use of materials such as pape
r and opt for environmentally products such
as substrates with a minimum fraction
of recycled content or environmentally
certified papers from the
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for
the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
Reduce waste: less material in and less
waste out. Waste reduction plans can
improve business efficiency by reducing
manufacturing and waste disposal costs
without compromising quality. Waste is not just solids and liquids; it is also wasted
material and time.
Comply with the health and safety rules for employees and plant/facilities regulations.
Emissions of chemicals such as
ozone, VOCs and of dust should be strictly controlled;
aim to be well below regulatory requirem
ents. Check if personal protective
equipment is needed as chemicals in some inks might lead to skin irritation. Set up
clear unambiguous information on how to wo
rk safely. Last but not least, always
motivate to contact local authorities to ask for advice about local guidelines &
regulations in function of
the supplied MSDS sheets.
Watch logistics: use lightw
eight materials and keep pa
ckaging to a minimum to
reduce transport energy and costs. Use
recyclable materials
whenever possible.
Minimize workflow di
stances and use best practice op
erating procedures to improve
internal transport efficiency.
Work with environmentally re
sponsible suppliers that ensu
re their products conform
to all applicable chemical legislation and are available for advice on meeting end-user
eco criteria. Look at new technologies to
broaden your options for going green to
conserve natural resources and to e
nhance efficiency and profitability.
Explain your green benefi
ts and be prepared to back up your claim.
WHITE PAPER
MUTOH Belgium nv
www.mutoh.eu
Revision 1.1 - September 12
th
, 2011
Page 8 of 8
Key Attention Points when Evaluating Wide Format Printing
Equipment
Always ensure to double check the marketing st
atements of manufacturers. Also check that
manufacturers’ environmental st
atements are indeed applicab
le in your country. It
frequently happens that manufacturers tend
to use US standards for their promotion,
knowing that US standards often have a different focus versus European standards.
When evaluating wide format inkjet printing equipment, ensure to make a thorough analysis
of all key factors that will dete
rmine the carbon footprint of da
ily production and last but not
least your performance & return on investment.
Key factors to take into account :
Standard configuration of the printer, machine price & possible options
Ink consumption details
Electricity consumption of the printer during start-up & during printing
Capability to print on recyclable substrates, such as non PVC self-adhesive media,
recyclable paper, ...
Necessity of special work envi
ronment equipment, such as need for air conditioner to
extract heat produced by a printer
Serviceability of the printer
& required maintenance cycles
True performance of a printer (advertised sp
eed versus print quality, throughput, ...)
Whether the printer has features on board av
oiding ‘trial & error’
printing to reach
acceptable print quality
Does your supplier provide correct Materi
al Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which are
relevant for the region in which you are located?
About Mutoh Belgium
Mutoh Belgium nv are a subsidiary of Mutoh
Holdings Co. Ltd., Tokyo, Japan (TYO : 7999
“MUTOH”). Founded in 1991, the company’s ac
tivities encompass sa
les, technical and
commercial marketing, product support, after-
sales service and dist
ribution of CAD/CAS
hardware (professional sign cutt
ing plotters and large-format full-colour piezo printers for
CAD, commercial inkjet printing, si
gn and soft sign applications).
Mutoh products are distributed vi
a a wide network of authorised
Mutoh resellers in the EMEA
territory through Mutoh Belgium, Mutoh
Deutschland and Mutoh North Europe.
For more information on
Mutoh, please visit
www.mutoh.eu