There are four main factors when examining the true value of ink used in flexible package printingand other applications: 1. Quality—what is the final visual result of the printed product. Are there smears? Did the ink lay down properly? 2. Cost—what kind of cost benefits or increases did the specific ink you chose cause? 3. Environmental—does the ink you use result in unnecessary harm to the environment or cause the printing operation to pass certain regulatory tests and certifications? 4. Safety—the ink that is used, is it safe for both what’s going into the package and for the machine operators and transporters? Let’s examine each numbered point as it relates to solvent ink vs. electron beam ink:
1. Quality—EB ink, such as GelFlex EB, produces Gravure-like quality compared to solvent ink. Some of the main factors include resolution and tonal value. GelFlex-EB is able to go to 180 LPI, resulting in a higher resolution and tone. There is also 50% less dot gain, giving the product a higher contrast, as well as brightness and smoother vignettes. EB ink also reduces graininess, has a higher solid ink density and boasts the highest physical properties.
2. Cost—it’s no secret that the dollar bottom line has a big impact on choosing what ink to use. EB has less cost due to the fact that there is 25% less energy consumption, 60% less color ink laydown and printers only need one EB dryer at the end (all interstation dryers are eliminated). It should also be noted that there is a significant reduction in waste because of no thermal distortion and quick color matching.
3. Eco-friendly—with EB ink, there are no VOCs. EB also reduces solvent emissions by 90% and ink composition by 60%. Also compared to solvent ink, EB requires less regulatory and insurance costs.
4. Safety—EB has always been safe for food, that’s why it is FDA compliant, has the lowest odor, taint and extractables levels and both the workers and food itself won’t be negatively affected.