JAPAN • Toyo Ink recently announced the development of the Elex-one series of EB (electron beam) curable flexo inks. The company claims that the new Elex-one series is completely VOC-free, making it a solution for food-safe flexible and carton packaging applications.
The flexible package printing market has seen growing interest from package printers and converters in VOC and CO2-reducing technologies, due to increased environmental and safety concerns, and regulatory requirements. Demand is particularly strong in the North American and European markets, where flexo inks based on solvent materials are mainstream technologies. Since the drupa exhibition last May, industry demand for both water-based flexo and EB curable flexo has been gaining momentum in these regions.
“Many of the EB flexo inks out on the market today contain small traces of solvent that is chemically added into the ink during the curing process,” said Katsumi Yamazaki, president and CEO of Toyo Ink. “The Elex-one series was specially formulated by Toyo Ink engineers to cure using only EB irradiation — without the addition of a volatile component.”
According to Toyo, EB flexo inks do not evaporate or volatilize on the printing press, so the ink does not change in consistency during processing. Since ink curing does not occur on the plate, stable print quality can be achieved even over long runs. In addition, EB inks are highly safe from chemical migration in that their composition is free of solvents or photoinitiators, making them a non-hazardous material suitable for use in food packaging materials and sanitary products.
Elex-one is currently undergoing trial testing for the European market. If approved, Toyo Ink plans to begin the commercial release of the product in the region. The Japanese-based Toyo Ink oversees the group’s printing, information and packaging materials related business segments.