Electron Beam Vs. Solvent Ink The Difference In Printing Inks Part I

Electron Beam vs. Solvent Ink: The Difference in Printing Inks (Part I)


When it comes to flexible package printing and other printing applications, it’s all about the final product. How does the package or container looks when the process is complete? Was there significant dot gain? Will the ink hold up against scratches and moisture? If the print fades or loses any of its original shine by the time it sits on the shelf, then the consumer and the producer are not happy. The printing process also has to be safe for whatever goes inside of the package, and for the workers running the machines. A major revolution in flexible package printing has happened when the inks themselves, not just the machines, began to be engineered for better, cleaner, safer, and  more productive performance.

Historically, the ink used in flexible packaging was broken down into two categories, solvent ink and electron beam ink. Major advancements in eBeam  ink were made, in large part, due to potential safety issues with solvent ink.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) recently concluded a study concerning “Solvent Recovery from Flexography Printing Inks.” In Case Study 3, pollution prevention was examined  for solvent ink use. The report found safety to be an ongoing issue with solvent ink, through the recycling of used solvent waste stream,  because “uncut ink cannot be distilled due to charring,” thereby having to create special rooms to house the stills, and the need for on-site distillation.

On the other hand, electron beam ink, like GelFlex-EB, reduces emissions, is FDA compliant, produces no volatile organic compounds, and increases overall operational efficiency. In Part II of this blog,  the  features that separate electron beam ink from solvent ink will be examined.

Sources: Crump, D.C. Case Study 3, “Pollution Prevention Progress and Prospects.” ISTC Illinois Library